I had just finished university (studying English and Film Studies) when I first got involved with Front Lounge in 2009. Layla Brown was a friend of mine and she was involved with Front Lounge (which was called Pure Media UK at the time). My first experience with Front Lounge was an iGNiTE with a school in Jedburgh – this is where I met Deej, who also sits on the Board now.
Front Lounge evolves with the needs of the community, appreciating what people want, always working on projects that people want to do. Front Lounge always responds to the needs of the community and never guesses what people want or does what they think suits the community. Front Lounge is ever evolving and that's what I love most.
Before working for Front Lounge, I had never considered working with young people but the organisation allowed me to understand myself better and lead me to a career. Front Lounge opened the world up to me and it allowed me to see the world in a different way. I learned so many skills such as filmmaking and editing but also confidence and leadership skills, and I got to meet so many amazing people. I was always listened to and encouraged in the things I wanted to do. There was no glass ceiling in Front Lounge, no one ever made me feel I couldn’t do something. It felt good to have someone that wasn’t my mum or dad saying I could achieve anything I wanted to.
The Graduate Programme was designed to nurture and develop projects that each individual wanted to do. The project I created was Black, White & Handwritten, a handmade and hand printed zine. I really enjoyed working with other creative people in Dundee to create it. The Graduate Programme aimed to enable people that have a vision or idea to see if it would work, giving people the resources and opportunity to explore if it could actually be something they are interested in. We would get regular check-ins which would be done as 1-2-1’s because everyone on the programme would have individual aims. It was really nice to be a part of as even if it didn’t work out you were still given the opportunity to try something new. The best part of the Graduate Programme to me was being able to try something I always wanted to do. Did I want to make a career out of it, no I did not!
In 2010 I went to China. China was like nothing I have ever experienced before. I can’t even put into words how it makes me feel or what it was like and I don’t think I will ever experience anything like it again. We went to China to do iGNiTE mini projects – the aim of an iGNiTE is to build leadership skills, develop teamwork skills, play games, to have different experiences and a complete culture change, but mostly to have fun and enjoy ourselves. We worked with lots of different people while in China, such as a drama school with young people, uni students, artists and even a stint in a nursery. Sometimes, I forget how wild it was in China. We all split into different groups, with Layla and I working together to lead a group. It’s mad to think at the age of 23, we actually led a group of young people from Scotland around China alone!
It was transformative for people in Front Lounge and those that were involved from China.
Being a part of the Board is completely different as I am no longer involved in the delivery of projects but I love it a lot. On the Board, we oversee all the decisions that shape where Front Lounge is going from a strategic and funding point of view. We work with everyone involved in the organisation. The aims are to keep Front Lounge going, to keep the organisation afloat and doing what we say we are going to do. I love hearing about all the different projects going on and the people taking part in the projects. I’m so happy with the Board at the moment as everyone has the same values at their core – we all want the same for Front Lounge. We all have the same principles regarding helping and supporting others, a passion for social justice and listening to the community. I really enjoy when the Board is invited to take part in celebrations. I like to meet participants as it shows them we care about what they are involved in.