SHELTER: A reflection by Najia Bagi

21st June 2016

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When I decided to write a blog post for the wonderful time I have spent with the young people at Nightsafe, Blackburn, I thought what better way would there be than to talk about a conversation? Because that’s been the magic of this project – conversation. Conversation is how I start in my artistic process, and it’s the threads of conversation, with ourselves and with one another, that eventually create finished pieces of work.

I have been spending time at Nightsafe since September 2015, and the best way to describe the project thus far is “beautiful moments”. I have taken part in karaoke sessions with the young people, have been on walks, recorded soundscapes, interviewed them and been interviewed by them, written music, taken photographic portraits and now we’re thinking about what we want to make to record the project.

We have decided to make a short piece of multi media including photographs and sound, to encapsulate what we have gained from the project and how we have grown. The young people have decided that this film should be a “welcome” film for new people encountering the space. They decided that the film should help people feel safe and sheltered because that’s how they have felt. When I heard this I felt really moved, and felt that it made perfect sense. It was their idea, and it fitted perfectly with the inspiration for me throughout the project which has been their relationships with one another and the support they give to each other.

I want to share a conversation now. It is the result of a “question game” that we played with one another very recently. We decided it would be great to ask each other open ended questions to learn more about each other. And this is an excerpt:

Question one

Josh (young person accessing Nighsafe, asks a question of Hayley, a member of staff at Nightsafe)

“Why do you like us being here?”

I don’t like it that you’re here, because it means that life is tough for you. But I like having you around, you’re all inspirational to me and I love helping and being helped by you all in return.

Jack (new to the centre that day)
I like being here because it’s a positive space. When everything is shit outside, this is a space where people tell you you’re doing well. You can express yourself here.

There’s no judgement here. Never.

Everyone is treated equally.

Question two

Jack (to Hayley)
How do you feel in the company of so many young men here. Is it ever uncomfortable?

I feel inspired. I see the potential where you see the problem, and I love my job. I don’t see crisis.

Life can be quite chaotic can’t it?

Yeah, it can be. But it can also be calm. I love to see your potential. It makes me feel inspired.

I think that if I read these conversations without having been there I might think that everyone was saying what they think they should say. And it makes me wonder about how cynical I am, and how little I need to support those around me compared to the young people at Nightsafe. Because this is how they think. They look beyond their chaos, when they can, and support each other. There really is no judgement, Hayley is right.

I hope to continue to bring out these stories in the time I have left at Nightsafe. I feel lucky to be there. One of the staff said that he had seen me grow and he was right. I have grown because of the beautiful moments I’ve been able to share with the people there. More please.

2 Responses to “SHELTER: A reflection by Najia Bagi”

  1. Bob McDonald says:

    Nightsafe does such terrific work and this extract encapsulates some of that essence. Please do record this and more. You quite perfectly record the positive qualities young people have. Which often others see as problems. Inspirational stuff.

    • Najia Bagi says:

      Hi Bob. I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to your lovely comment. I haven’t looked at this page for a few months. I’m so pleased that you feel that this blog post encapsulates some of the incredible work of Nightsafe. I agree, they do amazing things there. It’s been very humbling to get to know the team and especially the young people. They’re all lovely!

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