Grace joined the #Unfiltered Project back in January 2019 for a three month project. We set goals at the beginning of the project within the first couple of workshops. One of Grace’s was to build her confidence when speaking to new people as well as in front of a group and the other was her interest in being able to interview someone although she seemed quite hesitant as to whether she would reach that goal.

At the beginning of every session the group answer three questions to 'check in' with each other, giving every young person a chance to give their opinion. Even though Grace found it difficult to give answers in the first couple of weeks, she always asked for a couple more minutes to think and by the end she would have thought of an answer to give. In her first 'check out' at the end of the session she said the thing that surprised her most was ‘how calm and understanding’ the space was.

This definitively resonated with her as each week Grace’s confidence in both physically talking in front of people as well as confidence in her own opinion grew in a huge way. By our third week working together Grace conducted a professional interview with a friend in the group who seemed to make Grace feel comfortable. Being able to listen back to the edited interview Grace had done she began to see her ability.

A couple of weeks after this we took a trip to Angel to interview members of the public in a Vox Pop. At the beginning of the trip Grace was reluctant to do any interviews and explained she was extremely nervous, however by the end of the day she’d successfully interviewed two members of the public and was so proud of herself for overcoming her original anxiety.

Since the vox pops, Grace’s self esteem and confidence has grown from strength to strength. She has continued with the online sessions and is a vocal member of the group who people both listen to and take lead from. She has also managed to gain skills of self reflection through the workshops which have helped her recognise just how far she’s come, as well as being more proactive with seeking help when she needs it. One example is in one online workshop she’d brought up that she was very tired and was having trouble sleeping, so through a 20 minute mentoring session we came up with multiple strategies to help including creating a relaxing bedtime routine. Since then she has purchased some herbal tea and got herself into a successful routine and is sleeping a lot better.

Both her teachers, myself and Grace herself have recognised the vast difference in her confidence levels and she continues to find her own ways to build it even more. This confidence has also given her room to be able to reflect and explore different ways to deal with not being able to sleep, feeling anxious and even to continue to develop her hobbies and interests. Her interest in drawing, committing to practicing and being mindful whilst doing activities she enjoys, has only added to her confidence!

We’re so excited to see where Grace continues to set goals and find time and space for her love of drawing!

Grace took part in both the #Unfiltered project which is funded by the Young Londoners Fund and the Islington Young Reporters Club which is made possible by funded from Vanguard. Grace also won a Jack Petchy Award. Thank you to all three funders for supporting this work to take place.