On 7th February 2013, I celebrated my 20th birthday. I had known of a poetry night starting up in the city but as it fell on the same day, I decided not to go. Who would have known that that poetry event would be the turning point of my career?
I had met the Founder of what would now be Beatfreeks – no logo, just a brand colour in her mind. I was at mac Birmingham, rehearsing for God’s Property. Anisa Morridadi was sat with Deborah Stevenson and Laura Yates – I have no idea what they were talking about but I joined, naively and if they were talking about poetry, I wanted to be involved (naivety gets you a long way…well in this instance). After the meeting, Anisa and I exchanged business cards (more she gave me hers) and we arranged to go for a coffee.
I didn’t know who Anisa was, but she gave me a good gut feeling. Who would have known that this woman was about to change my life? We went for coffee, without being too personal we spoke about a lot of our backgrounds, our story, who we are and she offered me a freelance contract as a poetry facilitator at Beatfreeks’ first Summer Academy that year – this woman had never seen me in action but I guess the gut feeling was mutual?
On 7th March 2013 a few poets and I turned up to this poetry event, Poetry Jam – it was busy, it was epic, it was exciting in a way no other poetry event was at the time. I wanted in. Whatever it was. I wanted to be involved.
I say this because I have been at Beatfreeks for almost 9 incredibly life-changing years, starting as a facilitator, Special Projects Coordinator, Schools Coordinator, Head of Campaigns & Experiences, Lead Producer, General Manager… My journey has not been ‘traditional’ nor was it ever expected. I left college at 17, pursued a career in the arts and 3 years later found myself working at this new organisation called Beatfreeks.
When I look back at my experience and approaching my 30’s now, I honestly sometimes just have to say Alhamdulillah. Anisa took me under her wing, saw something in me and worked so closely with me to get to the point of leading.
I would be lying if I said I was living my dream, things like this weren’t even in my dreams because I did not know it was possible. However, I am utterly grateful that I have had the privilege of being involved in what Beatfreeks has achieved over the years. I am in awe, at the teams that have come and gone, the community that has grown bigger than us and of myself for everything I have been able to achieve.
My utmost gratitude goes to Anisa, for believing in me and for putting up with me mostly lol.
If you haven’t gathered, I am leaving Beatfreeks as an employee at the end of November, but Beatfreeks could never leave me, everything I have learnt, my life changes, my career, makes Beatfreeks a part of my core story.
I will be spending my time freelancing in community engagement, ED&I, creativity and being a poet until the right job/career/work comes along. Maybe I will resume my theatre show again, maybe I will travel a bit and maybe I will be around at Beatfreeks in different ways. But I will not be going far.
I am going into the 29th year of my life and when I look at Beatfreeks, sometimes having 20 staff seems like a huge achievement – let alone the impact we make on a daily basis to young people and to businesses.
I cannot wait to hear and watch all the incredible things Beatfreeks is going to be doing over the next few years. It is massive. It is growth. I have spent almost the last year leading alongside the amazing Amy Clamp, which has been a dreamy, challenging and vulnerable journey. Co-leadership for the future, I am so down to back!
My takeaway for you is to go and ask that person for a meeting (or gatecrash one) if you get a good gut feeling. There are so many incredible people, like Anisa (maybe not exactly like Anisa ;)), who will give you an hour for a coffee that may change your life.
Don’t hold me to that.
Until next time,