When I hit up LGBT BuZzfeed

I’m making a minor escape from the academic shitty cesspit in my head dedicated to my third year at Uni to bring something quite personal to my blog that I’d now like to share.

So a lovely lad from Buzzfeed asked me along with a few others to write our experiences with ‘coming out’ for National Coming Out Day which coincided with Black History Month, 2015.

I initially posted on my Facebook to many who had no idea, but now I’d like to share the article further.

The whole thing is very endearing and brave.

BuZzfeed Article for Black History Month

Have a read – im in there x

me and posie

Make it happn

So I find that i’m constantly surrounded by friends messaging away on their phones…not messaging other friends, but messaging possible sexUAL conquests. All via these fucking dating apps that are becoming more and more prominent within our lives with every single day that goes by and every newbie that signs up.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of friends who are now in stellar relationships because of the likes of Tinder, Happn, Plenty of fish or whatever, but my question; is romance dead?

Im not saying that these first dates can’t be romantic, but I feel like a huge element of the romance has already been chipped the hell away, you know since I’ve just sat here wading through guys on the internet like they’re a shitting current and all I’m trying to do is swim up stream. In simpler terms – no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no – oh shit he was really fit and I clicked noooooo…he could have been the ONE – oh well, better crack on otherwise I’m still gunna die alone, no, no. no, no, no, no, no, no.

Fuck sake.

That’s the average Tinder sesh for me.

On finally reaching a YES, and alas, a match…I then become obsessive until eventually I have to un-match this guy because he blatantly thinks i’m a psychopath.

I think it’s sad that so many of us firstly can’t be alone like maybe we used to. Especially in our 20’s. Gone are the days of waking up in the morning and being happy to see you! And doting on yourself. And enjoying some quality me time without feeling like those precious moments should actually be taken up by scanning the web for the next moderately attractive beef cake you can find.

I get it. My generation is one based on success. Everyone is out to make it, every industry is 1000 times more competitive and there are 1000 more industries. Where does one find the time to meet anyone? Even if you had the time, where? When? What would you say? What if you get pied in the face?

Jesus christ what are our kids gunna be like if we’re already this socially inept. Its tragic really.

I mean when was the last time a guy n a gal met at a glance, in a bar, over a damn good dry martini, and talked for hours…

When was the last time that a guy jumped from a moving train, chased this dame down the platform, just to let her know that she was Gods fucking gift.

The last time a guy chased me down the road, it was this hood rat and all his little cronies in camden, and he insisted on sprinting after me shouting COOKIE DOUGH COOKIE DOUGH (because of my caramel complexion obz) – fucking moron right, but at least he had balls. Or just a throbbing ego…

Yet still if a month goes by that I haven’t been ‘on it’ with my dating game…I feel its my fault I don’t have a BF. If only I was more committed to these dating apps you know? If only I tried harder, put more time in. WAIT WHAT!? What kind of bs is that.

Put your phone down. Buy a new book, something that vaguely resembles Eat Pray Love for context and general guideline (or Trainspotting depending on your mood), sit in a fucking tasty curry house with a dosa and some chutney, get a tall beer…and enjoy you. Because if you can’t enjoy you, why would anyone else eh?

The Voice

So I’m doing a little PR work exp for Ian Johnson Publicity (I like to dip my fingers into many many pie, I wanna know how and why things go down the way they do, in everything). They’re a creative PR agency for British TV and are currently looking after The Voice England, Season 4 – which had its live final Sat just gone. If you don’t know what The Voice is you must be a bloody Martian – it’s that talent show where the coaches sit on those big fat chairs and have a big fat button and they push it if they think someone has THE VOICE. The auditions are blind see, so they can’t see the person, just hear DUN DUN DUNNN -THE VOICE. If I make an effort to tune in start to finish, a talent series can be amazing. You become so invested in these people because you sorta feel, well, that you are them. Or your best mate is them. But deep down I always felt it was some sort of façade. Like dude this isn’t actually happening. But alas, it is. I had the pleasure of doing press with the four finalists, Sasha, Lucy, Stevie and Emmanuel, the day before the final. And let me tell you, everything you see on your screen, every tear, every look of dispair, every damn fist pump, it’s all real. These ‘regular’ people give themselves up to world, to be tested and mocked and cheered and loved – if for a short time only, and I realised it must be one of the most harrowing things anyone could go through. If you watched The Voice 4 you’ll know Stevie, lovely, sweet, gorgeous, fightin fires ‘n’ shhhhit Stevie, won the show. He absolutely deserves it and I’ve been honoured to have spent some of these winning hours with him whilst he promotes his winning single, which is currently midweek number one, uhh, winning. I continue to have the pleasure of getting to experience some wonderful, random shit in my life. And to meet Stevie, and be enlightened into the hard process of competing in and winning a show like The Voice, it’s been very cool. I think I thought it was all a bit naff this time a week ago, but I realise now that that was just another ignorant thought waiting to be stamped out. All in all major props to the individuals who put themselves out there on a show like The Voice, for the world to see, in order to perhaps step closer to their dreams. Do you dare to dream? Maybe you do, but I bet you wouldn’t do a fucking thing about it. YOU SHOULD. Stevie, all the best.

Can’t Turn Back

So I’ve mentioned before about my project with Stigma Global, and Sound Minds. If you didn’t read the deal is that I’ve been working with the two charities to produce a short film that could possibly be played at a Stigma Global music event. My aunt has dealt with bipolar for over 30 years. She’s the lead vocalist in reggae band Channel One but she’s also one of the most amazing people I know. Keeping this short n sweet I’m just gunna post the film below. Have a watch, have an insight into what it’s like to live with mental illness. + I’m super proud of it!

Guest Post – Kaya Collingwood – My time spent as a student midwife in Malawi

I’ve asked my lovely friend Kaya to do a short post about her time spent in Malawi. Partly because I remember when she was there and the stories she told were quite amazing and quite unbelievable. But also to share a first person account of the strain on hospitals in countries like Malawi.

Hello all! Laya has asked me to do a small guest post about my time spent in Malawi. Last summer, after a crazy three years at Manchester University, I finally graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Midwifery. The process was a long and hard one but I learnt some amazing things and feel extremely privileged to be a midwife where I am able to support women and their families as they go through the most incredible and life-changing journey.

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In the summer of my final year, as my degree was coming to an end and all 20,000 words had been handed in I headed to Malawi, East Africa to undertake a midwifery elective placement. I was based on the delivery suite in an extremely busy hospital where there were up to 35 babies born there a day. The unit was split into two: a paying side and a non-paying side although the differences between the two were minimal. There were 14 small cubicles on each side each with a bed and a curtain for privacy, although often these were left open. The most noticiable thing that stood out on the unit was how quiet it was. It is the cultural norm within Malawi for women to endure labour and childbirth in silence, most often without any pain relief.

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Coming from a high-tech state of the art hospital, where gas and air, diamorphine and epidurals are used frequently, this was quite an alien phenomenon. Although pethidine was available, I did not see any women request it.  I did recognise how remarkably resourceful the midwives were, given the lack of medical supplies that we are so use to using in the UK. Whilst I was there, there were 2 midwives and a few students caring for around 14 women in labour. The UK norm is one Midwife to one Woman in labour. Again this showed how strained their resources are. Overall I had an amazing experience and will never forget my time in Malawi. The country was so beautiful and the midwives were all so kind and welcoming. They worked extremely hard and it was clear they were proud of their jobs. The experience provided me with an incredible insight into midwifery practice in a low-income country. Although it may be a cliche it made me so grateful for all we have in the UK, especially the NHS. My published article in Nursing Standard

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For more info into the improvement of maternal health outcomes in Africa go to http://lamrn.org

Sound Minds

Today I had the pleasure of wiggling my way into the rehearsal space of a very inspirational band. Not only that but they allowed myself and my group to film them whilst they played. That band were Channel One. Heard of them? Probably not. They don’t mind though.

Before I go on let me give you some back story. I’ve been working on a project with a small group of friends. It’s basically a pitch for a new(ish) charity named Stigma Global + Stigma 1in4. They’re a baby charity and we’ve basically been given the task of bombarding them with young, fresh, original ideas that will get them off their feet and secure there place as a top charity for mental health.

As i’m sure you’ve guessed from the name, Stigma Global are all about breaking down negative attitudes and ignorance towards mental health. Their aim is to hold concerts that raise money and awareness for their charity Stigma 1in4 and other charities. But they’re not too sure about what to do with the money they raise.

My aunt, Coral Hines (type her name into youtube she’s cool as f***), has chronic mental health. Diagnosed with Manic Depression (now Bi-polar) in her early 20’s, and one of the most creative people I know, I knew her involvement with the project was an absolute. For 20 years now she has been part of a group name Sound Minds who class themselves as ‘arts for mental health’. This stems from acting, to writing and recording music, to painting and placing your art in exhibitions. Talent resides in all of us. Don’t think because society deems you as ‘different’, that you can’t be who you want to be.

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I spent the day at Sound Minds filming her band rehearse and grabbing interviews. The plan is to create something that could possibly be played throughout a Stigma concert. It’s all fair and well having celeb musicians play to raise money, but doesn’t that only reinforce ignorance and albeit stigma. Why not attempt to integrate musicians with mental health into the equation.

Probably easier said then done I know. But lets give it a go.

If you’re a creative mind who suffers from mental illness and want someone to talk to, or even want to take an accredited course in music production, guitar, song writing or keyboard…look them up. They’re a wonderful group/charity taking the right steps in the only direction. Lets all open up our eyes. Sound Minds.

Website – Sound Minds

Website – Stigma Global 

Cass Pennant

Been a while since I posted, been a busy bee this last week. Getting back on track, and in the spirit of my Beverley post – I wanted to blog an article that I wrote last year about the awesome, multitalented big man (as in super tall) CASS PENNANT! Cass’ production company Urban Edge Films is what got the Beverley ball rolling – he’s very inspirational and I thought I’d share this with you guys on here!

“Even when someone’s got nothing they can still teach you something.”

Former football hooligan turned author and film maker, Cass Pennant, talks gangs, prison and why it’s never too late to change your life around. Interview by Laya Lewis.

Pennant has just touched down in London after promoting his latest film project in Festival de Cannes. A man famous for knocking heads, literally, Cannes seems long way from Kent. So what’s the story?

When Pennant answers the phone for our interview I’m taken aback by the immensely friendly, deep cockney accent that greets me. A voice that immediately echoes pride, wisdom and years packed with life changing experiences. And why shouldn’t it, after being in and out of prison, shot 3 times in the chest and going on to have 9 books published…and that’s only the half of it.

Pennant rose to fame in the 1970’s for his antics as ring leader in West Ham United football gang, The Inner City Firm. The ICF were widely regarded as the first properly organised hooligan firm with Cass at the forefront. However Pennant grew up with white adoptive parents in a predominantly white neighbourhood so up until The ICF he felt the colour of his skin had made him an outcast. “With my background I’ve always had to fight to be equal. I was always the odd one out, always bullied, and the bullied becomes the bully,” says Pennant, who went from the fringes of the gang, to the inner circle, to a ring leader and eventually that lead to his going to prison.

Pennant was the first person to ever receive a long-term prison sentence for football hooliganism, 4 years in total. Was this because there had never been a gang as feared as the ICF or was he once again being singled out for the colour of his skin? “I’d been in the national headlines for the wrong reasons since my teens,” says Pennant, meaning that prison had always seemed inevitable to him.

It was in Prison that Cass first began writing. “I used to write prison letters for other prisoners who couldn’t write and that’s when I realised I could write. I kept trying to work my life out and couldn’t so I started writing chapters on my life instead,” says Pennant. Inspiring as he himself had never been one for reading books. “On holiday people would come up to the pool front and say, you still on the same page Cass, it’s been 4 days. I just can’t focus, I end up day dreaming.”

His first time in prison he was thrown in a cell with what he describes as a ‘hardcase.’ Pennant claims, ‘This was the kinda guy who’d spent more years in prison then out.’ In the end though the two of them became friends and it was his cellmate who inspired him to write books. “He said to me, ‘You’ll do prison the hard way.’ He asked me ‘Where am I?’ I said prison. Why? Where do you think you are? And he said ‘I’m not here, I’m on the moon.’”

“I thought he was mad until one day I figured it out. Every time he was reading a book he was out of those four walls.” It turned out that all the cellmates were reading books, something Pennant had initially thought was for “wusses”. “I said I’d like to read a book and he chucked ‘A Stone for Danny Fisher by Howard Robbins at me. That’s the first book I properly read and it inspired me. Even when someone’s got nothing they can still teach you something.” And that’s when he started English rehabilitation lessons in Prison and his journey as an author first began.

When pennant first left prison the memoirs that he’d laboured over for years were confiscated by the guards as they were written on ‘prison property’. Pennant couldn’t believe it, “When I came out I realised society says one thing but practices another”. He eventually managed to have his work smuggled out but after a year of trying to stay out of trouble he was back in the same prison. “They said I’d be back and I thought to myself, no, something’s wrong here. I took on everyone as gang leader so I thought I can take on society and change things.”

It was after his second run in prison that he eventually managed to get his book published. It took a while as the book was constantly knocked back from publishers for being hand written. “It took 20 years to get it published but I never gave up,” says Pennant. His book secured his status as an ICF legend and landed him a cameo role on hooligan based film Green Street. This was where he met producer Jon S. Baird. Baird had an acute interest in Pennant’s story and began reading his book telling him “This has got to be a film.” “I kept my cool and just said tell me when you’ve read the whole book. Two days later he rang and said ‘I told you, this is a film.’”

That’s where the transition from books to film began for Pennant. With his latest project being short film Beverly. The film is set in the 80’s, about a young mix raced girl struggling to find her identity amidst different subcultures. This was a time when racism was still very prominent and Two Tone was at the forefront of radical music. “What fascinates me are subcultures, I always wanted to make a film with a Two Tone background as I think it’s been underrated. It was the thing that brought black and white together…not governments,” say Pennant.

Two Tone is a music genre created in England in the late 1970s that fused together elements of skapunk rock, rock steadyreggae and new wave. It allowed different people from different racial backgrounds to come together. The story of Beverly is the true story of Beverly Thompson, an amazing woman in her own right. According to Pennant, “I especially recognised the power in a female account of that era, and I knew the story was special as I had my own story made into a film. Bev has a lot to say for herself and for culture. If we make it a powerful short and who knows, for us it could be the start of an amazing journey.’”

Now back from Cannes and looking to continue his mission to take on the film industry I can’t see things slowing down for Cass Pennant anytime soon. To young people who feel they’re also lost in society’s judgements and preconceptions Cass says ‘You need to do things for you, not what others want. Not society, your peers, your parents. You do what you wanna [sic] do.’ Great advice because according to Pennant, ‘Sooner or later I’ll be doing my first feature film, trust me.’ Watch out for this one, he’s on a mission.

Trailer for Cass – his biopic