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“It’s like screaming help to the deaf”

MK shares his experiences of youth violence in Pain and Panic, a collaboration with Luwxwa for Take Back the Power.

In his brilliant articulation of some of the stories that have been shared in the research process so far, MK worked with our digital documenter, Richie Luwxwa to create visuals from online footage of youth crime which help bring the words to life.

Chilling lines such as “Mum pray for me, cos this could be my last verse,” help listeners have a glimpse into this paradoxical world of simultaneously being fearsome and fearful, at once a child and also someone who knows more about violence than most adults will ever know. Many of the researchers described feeling like they’re living a parallel life - where people see the surface of you, but don’t know what you are carrying inside.

The track hits on several other key themes from the research process so far; including feeling outcast and let down by the education system, the pressure to perform masculinity, looking for a sense of belonging, being exposed to trauma from an early age, and feeling “trapped in a cage where demons lead the way” - the constant decision between staying involved or taking what can feel like impossible steps out.

MK, 17, lives in Tottenham and he and his brother make beats in their home music production studio which was part-funded by his wages from Take Back the Power.

The project works on learning from the researchers’ own stories, and from them deciding on a course of action to help others who are experiencing similar struggles. The researchers are currently designing short and long-term interventions for young people who ‘are involved,’ to try to help them to change their mindset and seek the help they need to try to get out of the ‘cage’ described in MK’s work.

You can read a one-pager of the key findings so far here.

Stay in touch! We would love to hear from you on Instagram or Twitter or if you have any questions relating to Take Back the Power, the researchers or their findings please contact Lita Wallis,

Take Back the Power

Take Back the Power is The Winch’s research and employability programme for 15-19 year olds.

Each year, up to eight young people are employed and trained as researchers, to deepen understanding and take action based on what they have learned. Take Back The Power was designed in collaboration with young people of this age group who wanted a way to earn money, gain useful work experience, and have the opportunity to speak out against social injustice.

The methodology we use is called Participatory Action Research, which is different to other forms of research because it:

  • Is research by and for the people who are affected by the issue
  • Is specific and local; us, here, now
  • Has a social justice agenda
  • Focuses on action rather than reports
  • Recognises the value of everyone’s knowledge and uses everyone’s skills
  • Follows an iterative process of Research (eg. storytelling, interviews), Reflection (eg. group analysis, creative expression) and Action (eg. holding events, using findings to intervene in the public sphere, identifying changemakers and enacting change)

Each project is entirely run by the researchers who decide what needs to be done and the best way to do it.

In 2017, Take Back the Power researchers created a zine about their experiences as young people of colour in the education system, and held a day of workshops and performance for young people and educators about how to challenge racism in education

In 2018, following a night in which six local young men were stabbed in one night in our local area, the group chose to use Take Back the Power to examine youth violence. Researchers were employed on the basis that they have direct experience of youth violence, and are thus best placed to examine the root causes and consider what actions could be taken to address rising violence in London.

Former Take Back the Power researchers have led workshops for youth workers about Participatory Action Research, gone on to study at University, and opened their own businesses as part of The Winch’s enterprise programme, The Company.

Take Back the Power runs from September until Spring the following year. If you would like to find out more, please contact the Youth Team Manager, Andre Kpodonu: