The Complete Freedom of Truth

They Helped Me Through TCFT Croydon

In my last post, I mentioned how Tina took the time to speak to me about TCFT Croydon, so it only seemed right to speak about a number of the special people who were involved in making TCFT Croydon 2018 what it was, especially when it all became crazy stressful.

Putting on TCFT Croydon can be a tough, and at times frustrating, process, which I would be unable to get through without particular people around me.  Tina is always there to support and offer her invaluable words of wisdom, but this was not the case on the final Sunday when she was unable to be there and a ton of things went wrong.  It was like a house of cards, collapsing one card after another, taking me out of sorts and unable to fully enjoy the day.

Photo by Peter Ball.

Nevertheless, there were people there who were able to pull me back from the brink and offer a sense of calm.  Darren gave me time to vent, as well as one of his amazing ‘Darren’ pep talks.  Foteini was there to lend a hand in any capacity, which was a true blessing, especially during lunch time.  My new friend Ellie was a great support, stepping in to take the morning warm up and facilitate the theatre segment, as well as being amazingly encouraging.  Liberty did an amazing job of pulling the music together, not giving me any cause for concern and creating a beautiful song.  And then there was Esi.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know Esi more over this year, since initially meeting her at one of my poetry nights last May.  She is a powerful poet and fantastic facilitator, who facilitated the poetry workshops for TCFT Croydon, and then stepped in to work with the visual arts group as well on the final Sunday, after an emergency meant that the visual arts facilitator couldn’t make it.  She got the visual artists to combine poetry with art, and she also worked on a collaborative piece with theatre and music – she was really doing it all.

Most of all, Esi was on hand to give me a pep talk as well, telling me not to be so hard on myself and bring to my attention that I had made a difference in the lives of at least one young person through TCFT Croydon.  She not only encouraged all of the young people and got great work out of them, but she also encouraged me when I needed it most.

Photo by Peter Ball.

TCFT Croydon 2018 got a brilliant kickstart from Lora and Rosie, who led out on the discussion segments on the first Sunday.  I could not have asked for a better pairing, who got exactly what I wanted out of the participants.  Lora also did some amazing work as a theatre facilitator on the following Sunday, which one of the volunteers and participants, John, gained a lot from.

I’m also grateful for the work Cedoux did with the young people who chose visual art, and the work that Alex did with those who chose music.  Cedoux also played a part in laying the foundation of the process with his infamous collaborative arts activity, which is always fun.

I’m extremely grateful for the support of those who were not there on the days, but who made TCFT Croydon possible, including Paula from the Council, Winston from Juvenis and Ruth from Spread The Word – I literally could not have made it happen without them and their generosity.  I’m extremely grateful to Turf Projects, First Floor Space and Theatre on the High Street for providing the workshop spaces.

I am very grateful for all of the volunteers, everyone who provided the lovely food, my mum for helping me to set up and clean, my dad for everything he did throughout the process, my sister for transporting me and to the lovely Glenn (you’ll hear more about him in another post) for being the muscle that helped me carry things.  In fact, I’m grateful to every individual and organisation who was involved and supported TCFT Croydon in any way.

The most important thing about TCFT Croydon is that participants enjoy and gain something from it, which they did, even when I was having a meltdown.  Everyone gave something different to the process, but there were four particular individuals who were ideal participants and made all the stresses of producing this type of project worthwhile.  I’m grateful for them.

All in all, I want to say thank you to everyone who was part of my TCFT Croydon journey in 2018.  I could not have made it happen without you.

Photo by Peter Ball.

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.

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.