An evening of anything but standard progress

Young Progress Makers is an afternoon of talks, workshops and performances at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm for Londoners aged between 18 and 25. It is organised by the Evening Standard and brings together inspirational speakers from across the capital to stimulate and inform people from all backgrounds who want to find solutions to the challenges facing young people in the city. King’s sent Masters student, Ottilie Thornhill, along to see what it was all about.

There is a general rule that I am bound by when I write for this blog, that I must not mention the thing that happened in June last year, or the thing that happened in January this year — I suppose because everybody else does and it makes the King’s blog site something of a safe haven for the politically burnt-out. That said, I am now in a difficult position because I really don’t know how write about the Evening Standard Young Progress Makers (ESYPM) event and not talk about them.

Hosted at the Roundhouse in January, the inaugural conference drew together the great and the good from politics, business and the arts to explore how to give the young people of London a better future.

Evening Standard Editor, Sarah Sands, opens the evening

Evening Standard Editor, Sarah Sands, opens the evening

Unfortunately for this piece, in hearing some incredibly inspiring stories and finding out what can be improved, at least half the speakers in the six hour event mentioned the things that must not be mentioned, in conjunction with youth unemployment, unaffordable housing, the never ending cycle of internships, low wages, the NHS crisis, the growing vocalism of intolerance and all the other ills that come with being documented as the ‘best educated, worst off generation ever’.

As an over-educated, underemployed young woman who now doesn’t want to cross the Atlantic without the contraceptive implant, what I had hoped for out of the ESYPM – indeed what I hope for in general – is for someone to find the solutions. In the moments when I’m not panicking about really identifying with the characters of the TV series Girls, I do see that there probably isn’t one magic cure and that nobody is going to lay everything out whilst making it seem like it was my idea. With this in mind the focus on creating opportunities was intriguing even if it came from an unexpected angle.

The overwhelming message of the day was that the young should look to entrepreneurship, and that London should look to the young. Brent Hoberman shared his story of founding lastminute.com with Baroness Lane Fox. Travelex founder Lloyd Dorfman and Fabien Riggall of Secret Cinema both launched new initiatives to help the young. The Office Group announced a plan to provide office  space to businesses started by young entrepreneurs and Secret Cinema are mobilizing to do more community outreach with younger people.

Sometimes, when facing the crippling fear that post-2016 life can induce in the young, it is important to listen to something better. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, reaffirmed his vision for London as a place where hard work and a boost can help you get where you want to be, again taking his journey from council estate to City Hall as an example. Actress and activist Lily Cole stressed the importance of sustainability and discussed her online community Impossible People and technologist Alex Klein spoke of the power available in understanding how the technology around us is built and functions.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan speaks to the Evening Standard Young Progress Makers

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan speaks to the Evening Standard Young Progress Makers

Intercut with more than twenty other talks were blindingly good and all-too-brief offerings from poets including Young Laureate, Caleb Femi.

ESYMP1 Anita Barton-Williams

Anita Barton-Williams, poet and resident artist at the Roundhouse, wows the audience

Undeniably, the game has changed and for many, either we didn’t see it coming or weren’t in a position to act. However, bearing in mind the wider ills listed above, the stories of two women who have overcome mental illness and disadvantage with support from The Prince’s Trust to go on and found a digital business and a bakery were the first in what I hope will be a long line of small victories for the new generation. Celebrating them definitely deserves more space in print than Brexit or Trump.

Words: Ottilie Thornhill
Pictures: Ottilie Thornhill

Patching up

Patching up is a project at King’s that is running throughout a six month maker-in-residence programme. The programme is a collaboration between Angela Maddock and the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery at King’s and is supported by the Crafts Council and the Cultural Institute at King’s. It aims to explore and develop material empathy in nursing and midwifery students through engagement in craft practice.

In Patching up students are asked to bring along a valued object in need of repair and, through a process of discussion, reflection and negotiation, we develop a care plan for the object and they continue the repair in their own time. An exhibition of all the ‘Patch Ups’ is planned for the end of my residency. This blog features contributions from students across the faculty, their photos and their reflections on what the process means for them.

If you would like to be included in the project, please contact Angela at angela.maddock@kcl.ac.uk.

patching up 3 Angela Maddock

Words: Angela Maddock
Picture: Angela Maddock

Patching up – Jess, second year Midwifery Student

I arrive at Angela’s office to fix ‘the duck’ as it has come to be known, after several emails and rescheduled meetings. I have been thinking about the duck and talking about the duck more than I ever did when it was just sitting on the windowsill of the bathroom. I have created a whole narrative around the duck, or rather around mending the duck in which I am, in fact, the central protagonist. We observe the duck, the broken off shards, the blot of blood still on the inside. I turn the pieces over in my hand while Angela and I talk about births and catches and, of course, my mother. Angela hands me the golden glue, has me apply it along the crack while holding the two pieces together firmly, and I am ever so slightly aware of the sensation of creating something new.

jess - patching up 1

Words: Jess
Picture: Angela Maddock

Patching up – Amy, second year Adult Nursing Student

Pooh Bear (‘Pooh’) was given to me aged six weeks by my Godfather. When I was little, Pooh was so much more than a teddy; he was my friend, my all-time companion and the reason I got into trouble (a lot) I would sleep with him at night and play with him during the day.

He accompanied me everywhere and I have fond memories of being phoned by local supermarkets requesting I pick him up. Pooh has been close to the end twice – when I was staying with my brother, a housemate thought Pooh was for charity, but in seeing the state of him, Pooh ended up in the bin. When I returned the next night I was perturbed! Needless to say that I searched not one, but two bin bags for him… He has since been washed!

amy - patching up 1

More dismayingly, Pooh was attacked by my puppy ten years ago, and lost his nose. Even though this made him look terrifying, I found the texture of the rips satisfying to play with and similarly I can explain almost every rip with anecdotal evidence; almost all of my life is reflected in this bear.

Pooh has been lovingly stitched by my family, and later by me. An old school shirt currently forms his nose, and Mum’s old scarf forms his left knee. He has had several ‘jackets’ and there has been a multitude of other ‘Poohs’ purchased just for their attire – I used to cut their jacket off and give it to my bear. Then I would give the former away..

As I have grown Pooh is still my most prized possession, although it’s fair to say I can no longer blame him for my misdemeanours! I still sleep with Pooh every night and he still accompanies me to other people’s houses, despite my embarrassment of needing a comfort blanket aged 20. There’s been a number of boyfriends with a number of reactions to such a threadbare bear!

For me, Pooh smells of ‘home.’ He has a safe, warm smell and this comforts me far beyond any words could. I also find myself playing with his various threads, and ‘notches’ on him, almost like a fiddle toy. I find this very therapeutic.

Of late I have experienced severe panic attacks, particularly at night. I find that I struggle to sleep without him being under my head. In an inane way I find myself sometimes taking to Pooh. If I tell Pooh my intentions for the day, I must do them, otherwise I have let myself down. This is another coping strategy I have found to work with my anxiety, but in retrospect I have been doing this since I was a little girl with Pooh.

I would love Pooh to be more durable, and less scary. It’s fair to say he won’t be a bear with a rumbly tummy for much longer if he doesn’t get some serious repairs soon. I desperately want Pooh to last for as long as possible, and I know that I will come to love his new patches!  Furthermore, I find myself thinking in great depth about Pooh’s foibles, where they have originated and how this has made me a more resilient person. I have learnt to love his rips, and the stories they tell and although he is really only material, he has been strikingly salient in my own character development.

Healing Pooh has become healing for me in this respect, and despite Pooh being less scary and more durable in the long term, what this project is really bringing me is insight into areas of my life I have never before considered, which are actually proving to be more meaningful than I have previously imagined.

Words: Amy
Picture: Angela Maddock

Patching up – Alison, Adult Nursing Student

This mug belonged to my mum. She used to keep it in her office whilst she was writing her PhD. This was around the same time as I was born, meaning the mug is over 20 years old. I got up in the dark to get ready for my nursing placement last autumn and slipped down the last few stairs. I was holding the mug at the time and ended up hitting it against the wall in my attempt to break my fall. I was left holding the handle in two pieces as the, fortunately empty, mug rolled across the carpet. A tiny cut in the palm of my hand served as a reminder for the duration of my 12 hour shift as it prickled every time I used the alcohol gel.

alison patching up 1The process of handing over the mug to the project was rather like admitting a patient into hospital. Aside from swabbing it for MRSA and asking it if it smoked, we carried out all the same measurements and history taking as we would in practise It was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the healing process our patients go through. How it must feel for their families as they hand their loved ones into our care. We spoke about the fact that after the fixing, the mug wouldn’t quite be the same. I wouldn’t be able to use it for drinking out of anymore, because the fracture point would still be weak. But for me, it was giving my mug a new lease of life. I wouldn’t be able to drink out of a handless mug either. So returning it to its former glory, with a bit of extra copper detail, was really satisfying. My mug may be physically weaker for the trauma, but it has come out the other side more beautiful and unique.

alison patching up 2

The breaking of the mug was also an opportunity for me to reflect on what it meant to me, I wasn’t aware of my attachment to it until I’d broken it. The mug can now be retired from the kitchen, after 20 years of good service, and be put out to pasture on my desk, holding my pens.


alison patching up 31

Words: Alison
Top pictures: Angela Maddock
Two lower pictures: Alison

Patching up – Mavis, PhD researcher, Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery

I keep small art pieces that remind me of home. I sometimes pay little attention to them, but subconsciously knowing they are there keeps me grounded. The day my ‘family’ sculpture fell and the head broke off felt instantly unsettling. It felt as if there had been a detachment from home, I mean, I am always knocking these sculptures over, at least once a week…but they have never broken up before. To add to this, my teabag holder also broke within a few months – what was going on? Getting confirmation that I could fix these was surprisingly emotive, happiness and relief flooding into me. These pieces are very characteristic of my culture, the colours and the shapes reminding me of where I come from and who I am, of home – far away and yet near.

Fixing them was symbolic of my connection with my homeland and my family.  My world and the world had been feeling a lot crazier over the last few months, and seeing my ‘family’ sculpture and my teabag holder complete made me feel that everything is going to be okay. I am, however, moving them to a safer place where I stop knocking them over but can still see them everyday. Just in case.

Mavis patching up 1

 

Mavis patching up 2

Words: Mavis
Pictures: Mavis