When We Speak

Youth Project

‘When We Speak’ is our new youth activism project, aimed at inspiring and enabling young people in East London to bring change. As part of this project Toynbee Hall will be directly supporting young people between the ages 15 to 25 to run their own local project by providing grant money, training & coaching. For more info on how we can support you or if you would like to join please contact: Emma.Weaver@toynbeehall.org.uk

Our flagship youth project

When We Speak Launch

The evening was honouring East London youth’s ongoing resistance, resilience and activism. All we at Toynbee Hall felt is overwhelming appreciation for everyone who made the evening spectaluar. 

The night consisted of amazing performances from Nawi Collective, Voices that Shake, Promi Ferdousi and Farzana Khan, for which we are extremely grateful. Not to forget the delicious African-fusion food from Maame T’s Kitchen! A big thank you to Alicia Pearl Cato who show cased her amazing art, giving life to our halls with powerful portraits of people she grew up with in Hackney. 

Our Motivation

‘When We Speak’ is inspired by artist and activist Grada Kilomba’s piece ‘Who can speak’ from her book ‘Plantation Memories’:

‘When they speak, it is scientific; when we speak, it is unscientific; When they speak it’s universal; when we speak it’s specific; When they speak it’s objective; when we speak it’s subjective; When they speak it’s neutral; when we speak it’s personal; When they speak it’s rational; when we speak it’s emotional; When they speak it’s impartial; when we speak it’s partial; They have facts, we have opinions; They have knowledge, we have experiences.’ With the author’s kind authorisation.

Vol. 1

Our free workshops will run twice a month Wednesdays 6-8pm with experienced activists and community organisers as guest speakers, whose work, rooted in grassroots movements, has been and stil is too often invisiblised. 

Amal Biden was the first guest speaker of When We Speak, from Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action (GARA). Amal lit up the Wellbeing Centre with her inspirational activism. Talking about experiencing racism and islamophbia from a young age, Amal told the young people in the room ‘your existence is activism’. It was fantastic to hear the victories of GARA challenging insitutional racism at Goldsmiths University and its manifestations at all levels of management, student life and teaching. All workshop vol.’s will be recorded on the website so keep posted for more inspirational guests!


When We Speak Vol.2 was a phenomenal success thanks to Change.org who expanded our skills and knowledge on online activism.  

Campaigns Director Pascal Frazer-Carroll and Campaigner Rima Amin shared their professional advice on campaigns and petitions with the young activists of East London! They encouraged out the box thinking and creative thought around campaigns when thinking about current issues in the news. Unsurprisingly there was no shortage of amazing ideas and we look forward to building on these in the next workshop! Everyone left the workshop with boosted confidence because of Rima and Pascale’s tips and were honoured to learn from such experienced actvisits. When We Speak looks forward to continuing our work with Change.org’s Campaign Team. 

When We Speak Mentor Evening

When We Speak’s first mentor evening was a huge success thanks to Hodan Styrene, Zahra Bei and Josina Calliste. We are extremely grateful for all the knowledge and expertise shared with the young activists to help with their social impact projects.

When We Speak cannot wait to hear about all the developments with the opportunities that were offered to the young activists. These opportunities include visiting radio recording studios and attending round table discussions on school exclusion policy. Keep posted to see these relationships flourish! 


Before the Christmas break we had an extremely powerful workshop on stop and search laws from Y-STOP and London Campaign Against State and Police Violence. Adam Elliott Cooper provided a workshop and Q&A on how to intervene peacefully while Amal and Jesse from Y-STOP distributed awareness merchandise and explained their app that allows recordings, complaints and guidance on stop and search.

Attendance for the workshop was more than expected and everyone stayed engaged and captured by the knowledge being provided by the great activists. Thank you to both the organisations that made the amazing event! The banner was created at Toynbee Hall as part of a residential volunteer’s project in October 2018 in support of the United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) march against deaths in custody.

When We Speak 2019/20 Cohort

Since October 2019 we have been helping 6 social impact projects grow in a number of ways; forming stronger networks, workshop training and providing microgrants to test their incredible activism.


Aliyah is a full time A Level student who has been running an excellent movement called @thepupilpower, initially bringing awareness to school public expenditure cuts and now involving students in the fight against educational inequality as a whole. Before #WhenWeSpeak Aliyah had carried out this awareness campaign that put the students at the front and center of this crisis which impacts them directly. She believes that all pupils do and should have the power to influence great change they wish to see in the education system.

With the support of When We Speak, Aliyah has been working exceptionally hard with a great graphic designer, Sophie Troppmair (@the_strange_attraction), to create an awareness toolkit which will be distributed to schools starting in East London. The toolkit has a range of materials to understand different educational policies and resources to equip action, from letter templates to MP’s, to group discussion tasks and Pupil Power merch. In addition to that, Aliyah has been holding webinars for young people around the country to debate how their schools have dealt with COVID19 and has been working on the Pupil Power website- stay tuned for the launch!


Moriam is a biomedical science student who has a passion for inclusiveness and the wellbeing of single parents. With this she wanted to create a charity that offered 4 main services to lone parents: childcare, tuition, financial and psychological guidance in the form of networking events. All the services would form the @Hajra Foundation.

Moriam and Zareen were able to carry out research while a part of the programme at Toynbee Hall, from networking events to gaining crucial expertise and knowledge from their mentor. Moriam and Zareen are now exploring ways to reach out to and support parents in this current crisis.


Zareen is a Politics and International Relations student in the city who had the same desire as Moriam to create an organisation that acknowledges and brings awareness to the struggles that lone parents go through.

Once Moriam and Zareen had researched the field of single parents support, they began to think about how they would launch their organisation and bring awareness to the issues. At the beginning of March Hajra Foundation had their launch event at Toynbee Hall, with introductory speeches, brainstorming activities on issues faced by lone parents and great food. Since then, these brilliant girls have been looking at different ways they could reach out to lone parents, looking at holding sessions in childcare and coffee mornings.In this current crisis they are looking at how to explore online support for parents.


Deborah is an aspiring audio artist and producer. Prior to joining #WhenWeSpeak she began developing an exciting audio documentary for the BBC Radio 4.

We are supporting Deborah with the creation of an audio drama called ‘Big Mummy’ from her production company, Tiny Lungs. This audio drama aims to amplify the everyday stories of Nigerian women in communities across London. Deborah created an original space of conversation for Black Womxn at Toynbee Hall that she ran twice this winter. She is currently in the process of writing her drama. How to support Deborah: Follow @tinylungsco on Instagram and Twitter for updates (launching JUNE 2020). If you want to know more ways to support Big Mummy + Tiny Lungs, you can reach out to Deborah at tinylungsco@gmail.com


Debbie was on her gap year in between A Levels and University when she decided to create her powerful project Unified Voices, which is a gospel choir for minorities in East London, with a friend from school, Hiba.

After joining #WhenWeSpeak at Toynbee Hall, the girls have turned our Wellbeing centre into a great gospel singing haven on a Saturday as they sought to recruit gospel singers into their new choir. During this session, where they were supported by the Black vocal ensemble @NawiCollective Unified Voices were able to try empowering songs as well as pick out excellent soloists. Many Wellbeing clients joined in on the amazing exercises the girls had planned! Debbie is now working on a singing challenge on @unifiedvoicesgc socials. Head on over there to support them!


Hiba created Unified Voices with Debbie and had the same passion for what singing can do for Black people’s mental health and self esteem.

The idea for Unified Voices came from the need for Hiba and Debbie to organise a response to their secondary school’s lack of interest in Black History Month. The girls wanted to create a project that meant that they could address these issues, support the Black students in the school and bring awareness to their culture. Hiba is now working on a singing challenge on @unifiedvoicesgc socials. Head on over there to support them!


The Soul Shack is a youth and community led social enterprise, working with young people and communities affected by or with lived experience of serious youth violence, trauma, poverty, school exclusions and the criminal justice system. The Soul Shack aims to be an educational and mentoring based service, training young people in the community as peer mentors and facilitators, to run workshops in schools and other organisations as well as a Yearlong employment programme that includes working in a restaurant and taking part in a business and leadership course.

With #WhenWeSpeak Shanelle has been strategizing what workshops and food would be incorporated into her enterprise. Shanelle has also identified a need for recruiting volunteers for the mentoring side of her project. Due to the current crisis Shanelle is working on creative ways to recruit volunteers online. We will be posting the volunteering opportunities on Toynbee Hall social media platforms, so stay tuned!


Brookemorgan’s passion is female empowerment! Her passion caused her to create @sheoath, which aims to improve young women’s confidence and motivation in their personal and professional lives, especially for young vulnerable women.

While working with When We Speak, Brookemorgan had been planning the amazing event ‘Sheswap’, merging a professional clothing swap with the opportunity for young women to attend informal chats and interviews with empowering speakers, designers and stylists. The event has been postponed but stay posted for rescheduling! Brookemorgan has been keeping positively creative during lockdown by creating an empowering hotline that looks to help anyone feeling anxious or unproductive, with the support of Sister System. Great spoken word activists, exercise and wellbeing expertises will be posted on @sheoath social media accounts too during this time, so keep an eye out!


Bukky created an amazing mental health network called @Chitchat_uk in which people could join and discuss their struggles or triumphs with a group of understanding individuals.

Bukky creates mental health focus groups for discussion such as conversations on the impact of financial difficulties on mental health. With the support of When We Speak Bukky has been developing her networks. In the near future Bukky will also be holding a When We Speak online mental health session where we will discuss the impact of the current COVID19 situation on young people’s wellbeing.


Adeola has had widespread experience from working with young people in various jobs- through these experiences she felt the need to create @Uplifttng, a project that seeks to create more opportunities for young people. During lockdown Adeola has been working hard to continue young people’s career development and created a webinar around enhancing motivation. More webinars are being made as we speak so keep posted for more online sessions.

Support our youth projects

By supporting our youth work you will ensure that young people in the East End are able to build the critical thinking skills and confidence they need to thrive. You can set up a regular or one-off donation by clicking the link below, or contact our Development team to discuss other ways to support: angela.basso@toynbeehall.org.uk 

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