Summer 2019 with our Young People in Cally

Supported by our generous funders and community partners, we were absolutely delighted to to work with local young people to occupy an under-used community space this summer. Here we look back on what the 40 young people who joined us in the six weeks of the summer holidays did to create change in their neighbourhood.

Global Generation has a long and well-established history of working with people in the borough of Islington - its children and young people in particular. We have been based along the borough boundary that is York Way at multiple meanwhile sites under the banner of our moveable King’s Cross Skip Garden since 2012. Being immediately adjacent to the Caledonian ward has enabled us to work closely with residents and community partners in the area, in order to engage hundreds of local children and young people through a variety of programmes designed to help them develop and thrive in their own lives and become agents of positive change in the world.

This year, as we prepared to move to Somers Town before we eventually end up back and actually in the ward from around 2022, we wanted to find a way to stay closely tied to our Cally community in the meantime. As a starting point, we planned a summer programme to engage more children and young people in Cally, with a focus on occupying one of the ward’s existing, council-owned yet underused spaces, the Cally Resource Centre on Copenhagen Street. Backed by Islington Council, especially the Youth & Play and the Homes & Communities teams, The City of London Corporation supported by Cripplegate Foundation and Isledon Arts CIC, we used this as an outreach space from which we could invite young people to:

A) cook and share food together, as an extension of Global Generation’s work right in the heart of the community, led by our Community Chef Giorgia - the young people tried their hand at making orecchiette, sushi, Vietnamese summer rolls, and Caribbean patties, and it was great to have a chance to use and distribute surplus food donated to us and to CYP by the Felix Project;

B) co-design and build spaces for the local community, supported by our Community Build Manager Martina and Glen from our team - this included building planters for the Cally Resource Centre and starting to create a Bingfield Park memorial garden for Nedim Bilgin in partnership with Copenhagen Youth Project;

C) go on a shared empowerment journey led by Islington Youth & Community Coordinator Kelsea and I, with all of us exploring our own heritage as well as the common ground between us, and then using creative ways of expressing all of that - see details of our rich programme below;

D) experience new things and expand their horizons through trips to cultural spaces and more both within and out of their local area.

Giorgia, Martina and I delivered taster workshops beforehand and promoted what was to come at Cally Festival back in June. Then, through such a varied summer holiday programme packed full of activities over four days a week, we reached a total of 40 young people and worked with so many amazing community partners. We want to say a huge thank you to each and every inspirational young person, every member of staff who worked on the project, and all of our amazing partners and supporters.

Inspired by last year’s Wakanda Wednesdays and Future Fridays, this summer involved:

  • Exploring ourselves and our values through creativity with the incredibly talented illustrator Onyinye Iwu, who helped us launch our whole summer programme by bringing in self-representational painting that was about connecting to our personal values

  • Visually expressing who we are through tribal body art with long-time collaborator Steph from the indigo project. This was followed by a trip to Autograph ABP to explore their summer exhibition and try out portrait photography. Towards the end of summer, Somerset House’s major exhibition Get Up, Stand Up Now also provided a lot of inspiration, looking at the past 50 years of Black creativity in Britain and beyond.

  • Looking at sustainable fashion in a session co-facilitated by our Generators Addie and Imaan, with the lovely talents of Shakira from Kreative Pursuit looking at upcycling clothes through embroidery. The young people then got to attend Africa Fashion Week London!

  • Diving into acting and singing at a fun workshop at the Roundhouse, followed by the 300th performance of Inua Ellams’ ‘Barber Shop Chronicles’, a heart-warming, hilarious and insightful play that leaps from a barber shop in Peckham to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra over the course of a single day. During the performance, our young people joined the cast and other audience members for an impromptu dance-along to Cameo’s Candy! The fun didn’t stop there as the team ended that week with a trip to Cally break out room spot, ClueQuest.

  • Exploring our heritage through food: Welcoming Safiya of sisterwoman, who uses West Indian and African American flavours in her intersectional approach to veganism, with a desire to make holistic health and wellness more accessible for the Black community. She cooked a delicious meal of vegan mac and cheese, fried cauliflowers and greens with our young people. By popular demand, we also took the young people to an Eritrean restaurant, where I loved sharing my heritage with them, not to mention introducing them to the wonderful magic of injera!

  • Focusing on our connection to nature: Kelsea and I took the group on a trip to our Paper Garden, where we shared lunch with the Southwark Generators there as well as ever-engaging community gardener, beekeeper, and proud South Londoner Carole Wright, who took us on an exploratory walk through Stave Hill Ecology Park and Russia Dock Woodland. Dexter then led a ‘Power of Plants’ workshop in the Skip Garden where the young people looked at the healing aspects of plants all around us and creating balms using Skip Garden herbs and honey.

Phew! Our end of project celebration was a well-earned trip to the West End to see ‘The Lion King’ at the Lyceum.

Following all of this, we are delighted to have access to the Cally Resource Centre from this month onwards where we can develop our outreach work with local children, young people and their families - including bringing our Friday Night Out sessions to Cally, and continue to partner with Copenhagen Youth Project, Islington Play Association’s Crumbles Castle, The Felix Project, Help On Your Doorstep (Bemerton) and more.

“Looking back on my time with Global Generation recently, these have been my highlights and challenges: piecing together my interests in each activity and finding ways to incorporate them in my life. It’s so inspirational to see different figures talk about areas which are meaningful to them … it forces me to think about what’s meaningful to me and how do I incorporate it into my life, while keeping the morals and lessons Global Generation has taught me.” - participant, 18

“Today we learnt about body paint and analysed the impact it has on each of our cultures. We constructed our own unique looks, influenced by our interests. My designs consisted of an animate style influenced by my Yoruba heritage, alongside my love for anime and cartoons.” - participant, 18

“I enjoyed today’s session because it was fun to watch everyone come together with their ideas and inspiration.” - Fatema, 13

“It’s the first time in a very long time that I was able to do something so creative and it introduced me to something that I hadn’t really considered before.” - participant, 18

“A challenge for me was finding my way and learning to use train and bus routes and systems correctly was out of the norm (for me) - because my mum and dad drive. Highlights were being at the Cally Resource Centre, going to Barbershop Chronicles, cooking and learning new things, e.g. about the fashion industry, people in general and black veganism.” - participant, 13

“What I particularly liked about the programme was the opportunity to explore my culture. I’ve had many highlights since joining - most of the highlights fall under the fact that being at Global Generation put me in a better mood. Firstly, with Vero being there at the beginning of my journey and now having met Kelsea and seeing how much effort she is putting into GG. I feel as though the people that I’ve come into contact with have been the highlight of my time. One of the challenges I face… is my willingness to socialise. I always feel most comfortable in my own company and it’s sometimes difficult to give up that comfort in order to attend sessions - but I am happy to say that I’ve never been absent from a session due to this. So even though it’s a challenge, it is one that I’m able to beat.” - participant, 18

“I liked the variety of activities, trips, etc. I have tried things that I probably would not have done otherwise! Thank you! I hope we can have more programmes like this in the future - I’d love to participate.” - participant, 18