Special

They All Effected Me in Some Way

Yesterday, I started off my series of blog posts about the beauties who have played a part special part in my 2018 by writing about Billy and Ken, who I met in Bridport early this year as part of TCFT.  I’ve decided to spend a little more time on some of the other people I spent time with in Bridport, as it was a meaningful part of my year.

Tina and Robert have been a special part of every one of my years since meeting them in 2015.  They are caring and wonderfully supportive, always there with words of advice and encouragement.  It was lovely to conduct video interviews with Robert for a third year – it has become one of my favourite parts of TCFT – and also hear more of his amazing stories.  Tina was the usual wonderful Tina, taking time to speak to me about TCFT Croydon (I’ll focus more on that in another post), but was also on hand to speak to me all throughout this year through our email exchanges and meetings in London.  She is truly the most amazing woman.

I’d never met Louise before this particular TCFT residency, but I was happy to finally meet her on this one.  Louise is kind, supportive and a very good listener – speaking to her was just what I needed when I was struggling slightly.  In addition to Louise, there was Louisa, a beautiful poet who I had the pleasure of leading out on workshops with.  There was a real yin and yang thing between the two of us, with Louisa being more of a page poet and me being more of a performance poet, which worked well.

Having dinner in the evening with my fellow artists was also one of the highlights of my week, with lovely food made by Alex, Rachael and Francesco, which I was incredibly thankful for.  I loved being able to spend some more time with my darling Francesco from Italy, who I felt like I bonded more with during that week.  I was able to have him read some of his beautiful poetry to me and we spent quite a bit of time dancing – he truly does bring me joy.

A lot of time was spent dancing when around the beautiful AK as well, who has the most amazing taste in music – his laptop and speaker brought me joy over and over again.  He also took a liking to my name, like the lovely Sam, Qan and Awais, who made me laugh a whole lot.

I developed a special bond with the talented Kaitlyn, whose energy would astound me.  We would have some really nice conversations and I foundnd myself offering words of advice as one of the older individuals there, but more than anything, I loved watching her grow in confidence and throw herself into the TCFT process.  Another young person I developed a bond with was Aimee, which seemed to happen over poetry.  What was hilarious to me was Aimee saying that she begun to read poems in my voice after seeing me perform, as I still don’t think that I’m that great of a poet.  I do know that I was able to inspire her in that week, which means a lot to me.

Being in a smaller group, I also got to spend some more time speaking to people from previous TCFT residencies that I had spent minimal amounts time with, like Finn, who is very funny, Kierra, who is very sweet, and the force that is Jade, who continues to grow more every year I see her.

However, the two individuals who played the biggest part in making my week special were my beautiful, beautiful hosts, Imanda and Makeda.  I had met them back in 2016 during the TCFT residency in Bournemouth, but I didn’t spend much time with them unfortunately, which is a shame because they are such inspiring individuals.

Imanda is one of the fiercest, loving, strongest women you will ever come across – a Mother Lion who will do all she can to protect her cubs.  She treated me with the most care and consideration, making me feel at home immediately.  I also enjoyed our evening chats, especially when she would share her life stories.  I am not exaggerating when I say she is amazing.  And then there is her lovely daughter Makeda, who is wise beyond her years and good at holding conversation herself.  We had a lot of laughs, a lot of fun and she definitely made me feel at home.  I loved staying with them and was actually sad to go.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to mention everyone, but I enjoyed spending time with every individual involved and they all had some sort of effect on me.  Every one of them is part of my TCFT family, who I love with all my heart.

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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.

I’ll Miss You Uncle Clifford

Yesterday, one of my most treasured members of my church family was laid to rest.  When I learned of his death on an afternoon in December, I was devastated, mainly because I missed out on the opportunity to visit him when he was sick.  The fault was no one’s but mine.  I should have made the time to visit him and speak to him when I had the chance, but now I won’t have that chance again – not until Jesus returns that is.

Uncle Clifford was a very special individual.  He was one of the people I would always make an effort to seek out and say hello when I came to church on Sabbath.  If he didn’t see me, I know that he would ask my mum, “How are my daughters?” inquiring about both me and my sister.  He was someone who would always remember you and genuinely cared about how you were.

Seeing Uncle Clifford never failed to put a smile on my face.  I always looked forward to seeing him, greeted by his grin, warming presence and always a “Hello darling” in his distinct Jamaican tongue.  There was also always a hug and kiss on the cheek waiting for me.  Knowing that I’m not going to hear that treasured greeting again or see his smiling face on Sabbath brings great sadness to my heart, as I know that church will never feel the same again.  Having to see someone else sitting in his spot next to Uncle Jim will be a strange sight for me.

I also enjoyed seeing Uncle Clifford sitting with Uncle Jim at the church’s soup kitchen on Tuesday evenings.  Having the opportunity to see him there in the week made coming to the soup kitchen even better, as I was treated to his trademark greeting and some conversation.

His strength continued through and through, not complaining about any pain or illness he was in, which is a quality I truly admire.  He was always caring and considerate, offering me and my mum lifts home on a number of occasions.  Uncle Clifford would always want to ensure you were safe, well and happy, doing what he could to make it happen.

The moment I heard of his passing, I knew that I was going to miss him, but at his funeral yesterday, it hit me just how much I was going to miss his presence in my life.  Uncle Clifford was a simple, constant figure who brought joy to my days, but I don’t think he realised the impact he had on my life by just being who he was.  I’m glad he’s at peace now and I’m looking forward to seeing him again on that day when Jesus comes.  I love you always Uncle Clifford.