Shining Light on Those Who Have Impacted My 2017

On Friday, I reflected on my tumultuous 2017, highlighting the highs and lows that made it the year it was.  There was a lot to cover, which prevented me from being able to say thank you to people who played a big part in my year and were there for me through some of the struggles.  Now it’s time for me to shine a light on some of the individuals.

Of course, the person who was always by my side was my other half – my sister, Rhianna, who means the world to me.  She was excited for the good and supported during the bad, coming with me to the Croydon Civic Awards ceremony and talking to me through some of my depressive moments.  Always there with the advice and encouragement, life would not be the same without her.

My parents continued to be there for me this year, being extremely helpful on the day of the TCFT Croydon Pilot, which would not have run the same without them.  My dad was also my biggest champion this year, extremely proud of all that I achieved.  Another big champion of mine was my cousin Georgina, whose motivation and words of encouragement I valued on a lot of occasions this year.  And it was lovely to have my family around me as we mourned for the death of Uncle Dale – having the chance to meet so many of them and  to see many of them after a long time was a great source of comfort.

Despite feelings of loneliness and disconnect with a number of my friends this year, I am thankful for their presence in my life.  My best friend, Mells, has given me the gift of a gorgeous godson and I have enjoyed reconnecting with her.  My Textiles girlies touched my heart with a surprise cake and card for my birthday in August.  It meant a lot to have conversations with a number of faces I hadn’t seen in years at my church’s Youth Day.  I’m also grateful to my girls, Si-Ann and Ashan, as well as my cousin Naomi, for being part of the TCFT Croydon Pilot.

I couldn’t talk about the people in my life without mentioning my YPI family and TCFT family.  YPI would simply not exist without the individuals who are a part of it.  However, I have to give a special mention to the constants, individuals who have made a great effort to help me out this year and those who have played a big part in some way: Alana, Dre, Hakeem, Stephen, Paul, Joan, Randy, Jamal, Liam, Pekz, Unorthodox, Mary, Becky, Esi, Jack, Sid, Jennelle, Ashan, Daniel, Aaron, Melvis and Shannette.  Thank you for everything, and I’m sorry if I missed anyone out.

Then of course there are my beloved TCFT family.  Tina is a mentor and one of the greatest supports I have ever had – I could not have put on TCFT Croydon without her.  Nomes, my house sister and TCFT Croydon co-facilitator, who continued to bring me joy this year.  Ells, my other house sister, who I love so much.  The wonderful Rory, Amy, Geraldine, Robert and Cedoux, who were great helps during the TCFT Croydon planning and the day itself.  Then you’ve got the beautiful Josh, Richard, Rachel, Jaffer and Rachael, who came down with her daughter, to be part of the day.

At this point, I need to side track and thank the other beautiful people who helped me with TCFT Croydon.  Thank you to Humi, Daisy, Nikki, Liberty, Chimaine, Skye and Ian for facilitating workshops, taking photos and helping with tech, as well as all those at Turf Projects, Matthews Yard, Project B, Braithwaite Hall and the Croydon Council, who provided us with space.  A huge thank you also goes out to the volunteers, who helped to make the day a success.  And I also want to thank the lovely Mayor, Cllr Toni Letts, and her consort, Nick, for coming down for part of the day.

Back on track now to my TCFT family, who made a special impact on me in Sarteano this year.  There are too many names to put down, but I just want to give some special mentions to individuals who made significant impacts and helped my meals to be extra special: Sandra, Annie, Carina, Silvia, Eilis, Roberto, Ismir, Irina, Marko, Francesco, Laura, Naomi M, Anja, Luka, Mina, Ricky, Modou, Lamin, Darren, Tisch, Rosie, Susan, Alister, Miranda and Margarida.  Again, I could have named so many more, but the list would have been ridiculous.

I couldn’t write this without mentioning the beauties I have met at Queens Garden and the soup kitchen at my church.  They continuously make me smile and want to be better – I don’t think they realise the impact they have had on my life.  Special mention goes to my boy James, Cisco, Richard, Patrick, Graham, Mark, Miriam, Gamma, Santiago, Gabriel, Marius, Marek and Petr.  Again, there is likely to be more, but there are too many names I could mention.

I have to give a very special shout out to Jes, the amazing lady who trained me and helped my crowdfunding campaign to be a success, as well as the wonderful Kay, who approached me to write articles for the Stories of Success magazine, one of my favourite tasks of 2017.  I’m thankful to Paul and Paula for making me an ambassador for Croydon’s London Borough of Culture bid, as well as for Paula’s brilliant show of support for TCFT Croydon.  A huge thank you also has to be said to Neil, Katie, John and Tina, for nominating me for the Young Achiever of the Year award – I literally would not have won without you.

Thank you to the ridiculously talented Anthony Anaxagorou, Dan Tsu and Deanna Rodger for teaching me on the Political Poetry course at the Roundhouse, and I’m also thankful for the talented individuals who took the course with me.  Thank you to Donna for inviting me to speak at Another Night of Sisterhood, as well as encouraging me and believing in what I do.  And thank you to everyone who has given me the opportunity to be paid for doing what I love or helped me out with work opportunities.

But most of all, I have to thank God, the love of my life, who has blessed me with these beautiful people.  I love every single one of you.


Up and Down

The past week has been a real mixture of feeling up and down.  I’ve been happy, I’ve been excited, I’ve been thriving, but then I’ve been depressed, upset and annoyed.

I’ve found myself questioning the people around me, wondering whether I truly belong in the different family units I’m a part of and worrying about my job.  I feel uncomfortable in the places where I once felt comfortable and prefer to be alone (or with my sister), not usually speaking to anyone.

Seeing my granddad ill cuts me deep, as I just want him to be okay again and hear him speaking to me.  I want to hear one of his silly jokes or listen to one of his stories about his childhood.

However, I’m happy about some funding I’ve secured and about my interview with East London Lines.  I’m thankful for having a home and money in my account when so many others don’t.  I’m glad that I have a job, which I not only enjoy, but is also close to my house.  I’m happy that I have a sister who I love very much, and who is also my best friend.

But more than anything, I’m thankful for the God I serve who continues to support me and reassure me, even when I find myself constantly worried.  I know He will never let me down and He keeps me from going under into that dark place, which is hard to get out of once I’m in it.  Knowing that I have Him and His promises keeps me up when there is so much that gets me down.

Beautiful People of 2015

As I reflect on 2015, one of the things that keeps coming to mind are the people.  If you know me, you know that I love people (most of the time) and that the people in my life play a major part.  They are the ones who support me, make me laugh and help to create lasting memories, so I thought I’d shine a light on some of those beautiful people.

I love my family so much, in spite of their imperfections.  My Uncle Keith and Aunty Cynthia made me feel completely at home when I stayed with them in Huntsville, and I loved having the opportunity to get to know my cousin Kaleem better.

Of course, there’s someone in my family who is a stand out time after time.  My sister, Rhianna, was a star again this year and despite some bumps in the road, we’ve come through 2015 tighter than ever.  She’s been my main supporter in all I do, provided a ton of jokes and supported me through my madness — I genuinely don’t know where I would be without her.  I’m also prouder of my sister than I’ve ever been, as I’ve watched her display great strength, start a degree and finally get the job she deserves.


I also have to mention my adopted brother, Jemel.  Now my parents didn’t actually adopt him, but I’ve adopted him as my brother.  The support Jemel’s shown me this year has been amazing and touched me more than I think he’s realised.  I was incredibly thankful to him for taking part in my short film and watching him want to do well for me provided me with so much joy, as well as laughter.

Then there are my crazy, dysfunctional, beautiful, church family, who never fail to play a big part in my life. I’ve enjoyed conversations with my girl Sh’kira, who I’m always excited to see and is always interested in what’s going on in my life.  I’ve laughed with my darling Elliott, who came out with some classically weird lines this year which had me dying of laughter.  But most of all, it meant a lot to see the love and support shown by my church family on my 23rd birthday.

My 23rd Birthday

I’ve been fortunate enough to stay friends with a number of girls from school and sixth form, who continue to show me love and support year after year — I was overcome with emotion when Ope unexpectedly gave me flowers and a card at my launch.  However, I’ve got to shout out one of my special Textiles girls, Nahed, who’s been there for me big time in 2015.  She was in my short film and came out to the launch, just like Jemel, but she’s done so much more than that.  She’s constantly checked up on me, shown huge amounts of love, and we’ve been able to connect on similar situations that have been affecting us.  Anyone would be lucky to have a friend like Ned.

I’ve also made a whole load of new friends this year, mainly because of my travels to Bosnia and the USA.  In the USA, I met some lovely people, like Matthew, Glen, Kojo and Khyle, but most of all, I had the privilege of meeting Britney, one of the nicest people you will ever come across. Britney’s got a skill for writing and she’s a spoken word ninja — I was lucky enough to see her perform at Oakwood and she gave some of her wonderful words to my own spoken word script.  And just like most of my friends, Britney is funny; just last week she brought me a lot of cheer with the best Christmas message ever.

Then in Bosnia I met an abundance of beautiful people — Lidija, Lara, Katarina, Nina, Marko, Biljana, Sandra, Ellie, Amy, Izzy, Jessie, Rory, Ljubiša, Nemanja, Tina, Alex, Mikica, Nevena. My house sister Naomi, who was also in my short film, and the hilarious Julia, who was kind enough to come and support me at my launch.  The list is endless and there are so many others I would love to name, but I wanna spend a little time on my friend Filip.

My Girls at TCFT

Filip is a beautiful being, full of kindness, caring and sincerity.  He’s intelligent, serious and wise beyond his years, but fun, entertaining and witty.  He’s a writer, like me, and a musical romantic who shares my love of Florence + the Machine. I feel blessed to have found a friend in Filip, who’s bought me plenty of laughter and put many smiles on my face in a short space of time.

Me and Filip

There are so many other beautiful individuals who have been big a part of my life in 2015, including my talent coach Teresa, my best friend Mells, my girl Jhanielle, the lovely Aisha, my hilarious grandparents and of course, my own parents.  I’m so thankful for the people in people in my life, and looking back, I can see how blessed I am.  I’m looking forward to developing these relationships and meeting more beautiful people in 2016.