Special Group of People

Yesterday was my final day on a project encompassing a series of creative sessions and workshops that came to mean a lot more to me than a job and I am going to miss very much.  How I was even able to get this job came as a result of a sequence of events that began with me simply being vocal and putting myself out there, but that is a subject for an entirely different blog post.

I first became acquainted with Mitcham Library last September as a facilitator for the Young People’s Laureate for London Tour, which was a wow moment to say the least, as I stepped into a library atmosphere I had never seen before.  Faced with a group of young people that were unlike any I had ever worked with, I knew that I had to take a particular approach to engage them and get at least some activities done in a workshop.  Fortunately, the approach I took led to me working with a group of young people that were very engaged, despite the number being small – this had to be the case though if we were going to get work done.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with them from the get-go and was given a quick reminder to not judge a book by its cover – these individuals will never be what you expect.  When I was given the opportunity to return to Mitcham Library as part of the tour, I jumped at the chance, as I wanted to follow through on the work I’d started.  I never imagined that I would be offered a long-term job opportunity at the library, but that’s what happened and I am so glad it did.

Not only was I going to get paid for doing what I loved – getting creative and working with young people – but I was going to have the chance to get to know these particular young people more and hopefully have some sort of positive impact in their lives.  I was ready and willing, although I knew it would not be the easiest of tasks and it ended up being one of the most unpredictable projects I have ever worked on.

I have loved it though, more than I can describe, and I was really sad when it came to an end yesterday.  I have genuinely looked forward to going into work every single week, and I missed being there the weeks that I was away – I’m really going to miss going there now that it’s over.  I love these young people, who have had a bigger impact on my life then I think they realise.  They have made me a better person and challenged my mindset even further, while helping me to find an affection for teenagers that replaced the disdain I had from them.

Week on week, I was cracked up with laughter and involved in some seriously interesting conversations.  I was blown away by their intelligence and impressed by the potential seen in most of them, which I hope they are able to tap into.  Slowly, I began to see barriers breaking down and trust being built, which I wish we could build on further, as six months wasn’t enough time to fully engage this group – they only got used to us more recently.

I adore my Mitcham Library Crew – the name affectionately given to the participants of the music workshop – and I was beyond proud of their growth over time, especially those who were brave enough to take to the stage and perform in Wimbledon Library.  They quickly became some of my favourite people, particularly my partner in crime, Conrad.  Everyone had a special part to play, including one girl who never got involved with the any of the music related activities, but would regularly come to simply support her friend – it would not have been the same without her.

And then there was drama, that varied to big groups playing games, to drama activities with four individuals, to in-depth chats with just one young person.  You never knew what you were going to get, but my drama partner, Rachael, and I enjoyed it all the same.  Some of the best conversations were had in those sessions and that is when I was able to develop a deeper understanding with a truly special young man who is going to do great things some day.

Being around all of the library staff was great too, engaging in conversations with them while having their support and expertise.  They were all lovely and greatly encouraging, but I have to give a special mention to the lovely Caprice, who would always chat to me and Rachael as we waited for Drama to begin, and also the wonderful Kurtis for a number of reasons.  Special mention to Sarah and Priyanka too.

Hopefully I’ll be able to do some work in Mitcham Library again, but for now I’ll just have to do with making visits to see the group of people I have come to care about so much.  With determination, learning and support, these young people are going to go on to do great things and make me proud.  I will never forget them.

Relaxed Reading

I love nothing more than sitting back and relaxing with a book in my hand.  I fell in love with reading when I was a little girl and that love have stayed in my heart forever.

I remember being at my child minder’s and reading the books she had in her house.  I first learnt to read in my head there, when I was forced to stop saying the words out loud, as it was a bit of an annoyance to her daughter.  I was reading the tales of Greek mythology from an old book with a battered cover, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

I liked our trips down to the library, which allowed me to enter into a whole new world of books, and I looked forward to the book trail every summer.  I still have my book trail certificates now, which I like to look back on with nostalgia.

I would read mystery books, adventure stories, teenage novels and some romantic fiction.  I remember my first favourite author being Enid Blyton, as I could not get enough of her stories that focused on the adventures and exciting lives of children.  I loved the Famous Five, Secret Seven and The Faraway Tree series, but I think that her Malory Towers series had to be my favourite.  She had so many other great and special stories that brought your imagination to life.

Jacqueline Wilson later overtook Enid Blyton as my favourite author with her great selection of books.  I had to have every new book she released and I soon had a collection full of them.  Midnight, Diamond Girls, Lola Rose and The Illustrated Mum were my favourites, with Midnight being the ultimate favourite.  I would still pick up those books and read them now.

However, as I grew older, I developed a greater love for the classics.  I am slowly building up a collection of classic novels, some with beautiful hardback covers.  Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is one of my favourites, and I really love Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.

I also really enjoy reading historical fiction, especially the The Cousins’ War series by Philippa Gregory, and romantic fiction, like the Chesapeake Diaries series by Mariah Stewart.  I finished reading the third book in Stewart’s series today, because I was so engrossed in it that I could not bring myself to put it down.

Nevertheless, my favourite book ever has to be Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and my favourite series has to be The Dollanganger series by Virginia Andrews.

Gone with the Wind is a special story with strong characters, a great setting and a gripping story that plays with your emotions throughout.  The same goes for the The Dollanganger series, which is deeply emotional and heartbreaking, whilst being extremely intriguing.  I loved every single one of the five books and I can’t wait to read them again.

Reading is a special activity, that allows me to relax and open up my imagination.  I have been taken to so many different countries, islands and faraway lands, while learning new words, pieces of information and wonderful stories that I can pass on to those around me.  Books are truly amazing and I would recommend everyone to get reading.