Football Beyond Borders’ ‘Beyond Bars’ Project Has Helped Shine a Light on Youth Creativity in Lockdown

16-year-old poet Abi Simms saw her poem “Being Black & 6Teen” become a film as part of the innovative project.

January 19th 2021

Despite the unprecedented challenges created by lockdown during the pandemic, Football Beyond Borders’ pioneering charity work has continues to help spark youth creativity during lockdown.

One of the best examples of this is ‘Beyond Bars’, a project involving a series of spoken word workshops run by FBB practitioners, creatives and artists with the “aim of giving young people a voice.”

‘Beyond Bars’ was a big success, with the project’s 60 participants – all aged 13-16 – told to process and channel the feelings they experienced during lockdown through poetry and spoken word – with the most promising applicant given the opportunity to have their poems turned into a short film by production company Caviar.

16-year-old Abi Simms from Thornton Heath in south London got the chance to do exactly that, with her poem, “Being Black & 6Teen”, reflecting on her experiences of the systemic inequities that she and other Black youths in the UK face on a daily basis, both in and out of school.

Written the day she found out about the death of George Floyd, the candid accompanying film provides a compelling and distinctly British insight into her young, Black experience growing up. The powerful short film highlights that, despite the current limitations put in place, young people can flourish if given the means to do so.

Speaking about “Being Black & 6Teen”, Abi told i-D: “[What] I want people to take from this film is the misconception of what it is to be Black and what it is to be 16, too,” she says. “I labelled a few stereotypes that we hear from a young age and just hope that people will understand what it really feels like.”

Speaking about Abi and her poem, FBB co-founded Jasper Kain said: “Being a Black teenager comes with lots of stereotypes and expectations that have to be navigated, and Abi’s poem expertly confronts this. It showcases her supreme talents and the changing face of modern Britain. And it is part of a movement that is ushering a new dawn in the creative industry for talented young Black creatives who are calling for a seat at the table to shape the society we want to live in.”

Take “Being Black & 6Teen” in via the YouTube link above, and make sure to follow Football Beyond Borders on Instagram here.