In August 2019, Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellow Yomi Ṣode began working on a pilot poetry project with the young people at Future, the OnSide Youth Zone in Barking & Dagenham: No week was the same. New young people joined me to write every week. I gave them new themes and at times I scrapped the idea I had and went with the vibe of Future: Whether it was a celebration of culture or raising awareness of period poverty. Some young people wrote amazing poems for the anthology but preferred to be anonymised and here, I am reminded of the power of writing / literature as an engagement tool. Speaking for the young person when the young person doesn’t feel as ready to speak.
Five of the OnSide young people joined Yomi, the poets Theresa Lola and Mona Arshi, the actors Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory, and Allie Esiri at Mansion House on the 26th November and took part in the Voices of London event organised by The Lord Mayor’s Appeal and under the auspices of the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, William and Hilary Russell. It was an incredible occasion with London Voices from across the centuries rounded out by those of these fine young people.
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