Talia is the definition of a young leader. She is the Managing Director of Youth Realities, a youth-led organisation that works to address teenage relation abuse through creative, education and support for young survivors.

How did you get to where you are? My journey started when I was 19 years old and determined to bring some changes in the community. I noticed a gap in the system, as teenagers facing emotional abuse didn’t have any support. It was mainly available for children and adults. Youth Realities started off as a small organisation, and we conducted creative activities at various schools. In the past 4 years we grown to make a bigger impact, also addressing other issues such as exploitation. We also help women who have been forced to leave school or have been a part of the criminal justice system become more confident and resilient.

Who or what inspires you? As a teenager I personally experienced these issues and saw that in spite of it being a very common concern, no one in my life knew how to react or provide me with the support I needed. One of my schoolmates, Temi Mwale who set up her organisation called the 4Front Project at 16, has always been an inspiration to me. She helped me realize that young women, can bring about change in the community with passion and determination.

What have you found most challenging? Having a role in the charity sector comes with many challenges, such as getting funding, and trying to provide support to as many people possible with limited team members. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought its own set of challenges as we are seeing a rise in the number of young people needing our support.

What have you found most rewarding? Seeing young people flourish in a safe space is the most rewarding part of this journey. Teenagers, in particular are often put into boxes and are asked to behave in certain ways but giving them the opportunity to be their authentic selves while bringing about positive change in the community is very fulfilling.

What advice would you give others? To anyone reading this who may be experiencing any form of abuse, emotional or physical I would like to tell them you don’t need to tolerate it and there are so many other people who want to see you achieving your highest potential. If you want to take steps towards these causes, follow your dreams and use your resources in the best ways. COVID brings many restrictions but also the opportunities to connect virtually, sometimes with people whom you wouldn’t be able to meet physically. Doing your research is essential and ask questions, because that is how you will fulfil your ambitions.