A Brixton charity is giving young BAME people a platform during the coronavirus pandemic through poetry events and workshops.
Poetic Unity is running workshops which support marginalised young people and promote conversations around mental health.
The charity has partnered with Southside Young Leaders Academy to deliver a workshop via Zoom during lockdown which supports boys aged 8-16 from BAME backgrounds to write their own poetry.
Poetic Unity founder Ragz-CV, 32, said: “It is really getting their voices heard about how they feel about this situation.
“It’s almost like a mentoring programme as well. With the boys being at home so much they’re kind of a bit lost, in the sense that they can’t see their friends.
“We give a voice to the voiceless and that speaks volumes about the people we help.
“Most people who haven’t got a voice are the people in deprived areas, they are marginalised, people don’t care what young people have to say.”
Ragz-CV said that being open about mental health is a particular issue in the black community.
He reflected that his father, who is Jamaican, does not speak about his feelings.
He said: “Poetry is literally therapy. It is the only way that I’ve found that I can get young boys from the streets, from gangs, from anything to actually talk about how they feel.”
Brixton-born Ryan J. Matthews-Robinson, better known as Ragz-CV, founded Poetic Unity in February 2015.
In light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, Ragz-CV said that poetry was a great way of ensuring black voices are heard.
He said: “We are here in the trenches working with young black boys and girls every day in the community. Teaching them, giving them opportunities, giving them a voice and making them feel valued and giving them a safe space to be themselves.
“I feel like poetry is a great way for young people to share how they feel about these political situations. What poetry does is give black people a voice.”
Poetic Unity is hosting events on Instagram during the lockdown.
This includes Poets’ Corner, a weekly spoken word night, usually held in Brixton’s Black Cultural Archives.
Hundreds of people globally are tuning in to watch young people perform poetry during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ragz-CV said: “A lot of people are really appreciative of having something to relieve them from their own thoughts or just the thought of the pandemic. Because there was one point when we were just hearing about it everyday, virus, virus, virus.
“If you’re hearing it everyday it is just going to make you depressed and make you anxious. It’s a negative thing.”
Poetic Unity is running a Windrush Day event in collaboration with Brixton’s Black Cultural Archives (BCA) on Monday 22 June at 7pm.
It will celebrate the heroes of the Windrush Generation and will take place on BCA’s Instagram Live.
You can find out more about their other events and workshops they run here.
Main picture of Ragz-CV by Poetic Unity