Professor Green urges teens affected by Grenfell to feel empowered
The rapper joined an event at a centre within walking distance of the scene of the tragedy.
Rapper Professor Green has told teenagers struggling to cope with the impact of the Grenfell Tower tragedy not to feel ashamed about how they feel and find someone to talk to.
He was speaking at an NHS-backed mental health event for 13 to 19-year-olds held at a community centre within walking distance from the tower block where 72 people were killed in the fire in June last year.
He spoke of resilience, he told how he was 25 when his father Peter took his own life, and he said that “to be in touch with how you feel is important”.
The 34-year-old, whose real name is Stephen Manderson, joined the Mindful Youth North Kensington event after a personal request from the youngsters.
Spent the afternoon with kids, teens and adults at Curve, some of who were directly effected by Grenfell, about trauma, anxiety, depression - and how with a lack of professional services… https://t.co/BjHNWb6mDY— #PHOTOGRAPHS (@professorgreen) September 22, 2018
He said he was “surprised, speechless” and honoured when he got the invite.
He answered questions on a range of issues as he sat cross-legged on a small stage that was decorated with green balloons – the colour of support for Grenfell.
Modern-day celebrity, friendships, post-traumatic stress and the need to “normalise conversations” about mental health were some of the topics he covered.
He said: “It is important to have a group of friends and to be honest. Being honest with your friends and yourself is empowering.”
One teenager broke down in tears and was hugged by the people around her as she told the rapper how she had an anxiety attack in school and had felt “trapped and had no-one to talk to”.
Speaking to the group of teenagers in general and then to the young girl herself, Professor Green said: “Everything you are doing is wicked. Helping has got to be about empowering people in the community.
“It is about going to the community, finding people and giving them voices and finding those people who can help – it is really, really important.
“It is horrible if you are in a place and you feel helpless and trapped, you can’t tell anyone and even if you do say something you cannot find help – that is terrible.”
The event was aimed at helping local youngsters who have been affected by the fire in some way to feel there is a “safe, positive and creative” place for them to go.
Stereotypical images on masculinity that boys may feel they have to live up to and the pressures of being a young adult were also discussed.
Professor Green said: “Why can’t I be a man and have a sensitive side?”
Mona Hayat, of the North West London Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “This is the community serving the community.
“It is about letting the children know it is okay not to be okay about things, because there is help out there.”
She said a starting point for anyone looking for information would be to go online – at grenfellwellbeing.com – or to call 0800 0234 650.