Reflections on When We Speak Half-Term Activism Workshops
By Emma Weaver, When We Speak Coach
In February, our When We Speak activists facilitated online Introduction to Activism sessions for young Londoners that explored themes such as: motivation, locating your cause and creative storytelling. These were incredibly powerful sessions run by Melissa (Engage Here), Moriam (Hajra Foundation), Aliyah (Pupil Power), Deborah (Tiny Lungs) and Adeola (Uplift the Next Generation). It was inspiring to see how WWS activists engaged and connected with the participants. For some, this was the first time they had designed and facilitated an online session for their peers and so we asked them how they found the whole experience:
Adeola created an event on tackling lockdown motivation fatigue which was a brilliant way for young people to share how they were handling themselves in these intense times. She commented “It’s really important to understand the power our individual stories have and how they can encourage us to keep pushing even during hard moments. Everyone has a unique story that is inspiring and should be shared and as they do they will be able to connect with others and stay motivated.” Adeola was happy that the attendees felt confident enough to share their stories and engage with the session.
Aliyah held a session on standing against injustice which was a phenomenal success. Aliyah stated the session was amazing, upon reflection she was really proud of herself for delivering a session as a young person to young people which made it even more special. Aliyah really enjoyed each section of the process from the planning to the organising to delivery each part and felt like she took a lot from it. Aliyah benefitted from the experience as well as the attendees benefitting from the knowledge and the experience that she shared around being an activist. Aliyah said she felt really supported with the process and made her realise how much she enjoys facilitating spaces and making other people feel comfortable to share their own experiences in a safe and open environment.
Deborah ran a session on stories from the silence where the group spoke about what they cared about and why. By the end of the session, we had created an audio piece of everyone’s thoughts in the room! Deborah really enjoyed running the sessions, she thought it was amazing to connect with young people who were passionate about change! Also, to share Deborah’s experiences over the past couple of years and what she has learnt through When We Speak and other means. She is very grateful for the experience and had described it as the recharge that was needed especially when everything else can feel so negative, it was a really positive circle of care and desire for change!
At the end of the week, Moriam and Melissa created a youth led conversation on ageism exploring how young people are excluded from conversations and why age gives people the authority to dominate spaces?
Melissa said they chose the topic of Ageism, as this topic resonated with them. Their goal was to facilitate the online space and hear other opinions in an informal and thought-provoking conversation. Moriom and Melissa planned the structure of the event together, it was great to bounce ideas in the early stages. Melissa especially enjoyed researching the topic as she personally knew a lot from being an Age Activist and was happy to look at it in a different way. “Promoting this free event was always going to be challenging. We had great guidance on everything from Farha and Emma in the lead up to the day. I learnt the fine line of knowing when to postpone for too few sign-ups. I’ve learnt lots of tips and tricks on how you deliver online too. It was a humbling experience to hear stories from other young people about Ageism.”
Moriam’s experience with the workshop was very eventful but inspiring. Despite having an odd start to the session, Moriam thoroughly enjoyed meeting the enthusiastic participants and working alongside my passionate co-host Melissa. She also really like the entire process of creating a structured plan for the session with the help of Melissa, Emma and Farha. Co-hosting a workshop on ageism was, in Moriam’s words, one of the most productive things she had achieved within this lockdown and would be more than happy to recommend the project to others!
Following on from these workshops, we had young people following up keen to join the When We Speak programme so we thank these great activists for inspiring and activating other youth to step into their power and take action. Our team continues to work alongside these exceptional young women and look forward to the inviting more young people to join our When We Speak Community.