#iwill Ambassador & Wassup member pens powerful poem

Lanai volunteers full time for Wassup (Women Against Sexual Exploitation and Violence Speak Up) a team of 35 young women who raise awareness of domestic abuse, child abuse and sexual violence. Altogether, they’ve delivered workshops to 2,200 schoolchildren across Suffolk.
Lanai performed this poem to two hundred #iwill Ambassadors, their families and #iwill partners at the University of Birmingham in October 2019. You can read Lanai’s #iwill Ambassador profile here.

“These days you can scream and they still wont listen,

Too fragile to learn about exploitation but old enough to be put in a prison”

“We don’t want to see more young people being pushed through an unsatisfactory system,

Not just going everywhere and telling our story like trauma is this competition”

I remember being little when I could barely fit on a page all the things I dreamed to be,

Then I became a teenager and was swept into a reality,

A post it note might be a more appropriate size for those aspirations,

I was forced to see I was a black female so I’d better lower my expectation,

The explosions of predicted disadvantage clouded my vision,

News reports on young people telling me off through the television,

So painful for me to watch so many of us being labelled and fulfilling negative prophecies,

Nothing’s done till it’s too late and all we get is apologies,

We are sick of hearing “sorry” or “I forgot” just feels like we’re being mocked,

Providing us with opportunities and safety is a very worthy cost,

These days you can scream and they still wont listen,

Too fragile to learn about exploitation but old enough to be put in a prison,

This constant juxtaposition,

It’s a life of contradiction,

But I found youth social action, a young women’s group standing against gangs, abuse, exploitation and much more,

Letting professionals know the truth about what happens behind closed doors,

Through our toolkits with poetry, videos and powerful images,

We train young people you how spot abuse cos feeling like you’re not alone shouldn’t be a privilege,

It handed me a key to unlock a safe space to nurture ingenuity,

Professionals from which we had one felt so much animosity,

Were now giving us attention respect and generosity,

YSA is giving voice and opportunities to survivors so we reduce the numbers of victims,

Because we don’t want to see more young people being pushed through an unsatisfactory system,

Not just going everywhere and telling our story like trauma is this competition,

We aren’t a youth group or a counselling session we are survivors on a mission,

We don’t stay stationary we progressively challenge the community’s current troubles.

Like now we have a youth forum on the Suffolk safeguarding board, we can see light at the end of this tunnel,

Thanks to youth social action I have purpose to fulfil,

Went from saying “I can’t” to saying “I will.”