On the Romania team: Pandora Khody

After two years of homelessness, linguist Pandora Khody, 21, works long hours to ensure she’s got her own place to go back home to. A big fan of fashion and art, here Pandora explains how life is looking up since she discovered the Pilion Trust. Q&A with Nicola Baird

Pandora Khody from the #HearMeSpeak team styling her selfie. (c) PK

Q: What’s your connection to Islington?
“I came to London when I was 10 or 11 and grew up in west London, then I moved around a lot. I used to rough sleep around Islington for a while, from 18 – 19 years old. Now I live in east London. I’ve lived in so many places.”

Q: How did you discover the Pilion Trust?
“Through my friend Fardowsa – she introduced me to Savvas [CEO of the Pilion Trust which runs a night shelter for young homeless Londoners]. On the day I got in touch with him I went to stay at the Crash Pad. I thought it was going to be a hell hole but I felt really safe and nurtured.”

“Society lacks understanding about the problem of homelessness. Being homeless as a young female adult is very common, especially around Islington. The health care, government, media and stereotypes that we face for being homeless is very harsh. We need to raise the red flag. We need more support – hostels, shelters, access to food, clothing, money and counselling.”

Q: Are you working?
“Since December I’ve been working at Ugg (a famous Austalian sheepskin boot brand) in central London and really enjoy it. One thing I really like about my work is there are so many tourists and I’m able to use all my languages. It makes me look back a couple of years and think oh my god I’m here. I love the staff and conversations with the customers.”

Q: How are you feeling?
“I’d been homeless for three years and a bit. I never really thought I’d be working where I am, or I’d be renting and earning money. I always looked down on myself. If it was not for Savvas, and my partner, I’d not be here. Life can always improve but I’m very happy with my life.”

Q: Why did you get involved in Engage London?
“I like to get myself involved in activities and experience new things. Because of Savvas I was confident that #HearMeSpeak was going to help me gain knowledge, confidence and have a learning experience. And I enjoy being with everyone, the activities and being creative.”

  • See Pandora on the TV panel live Question Time show here.

Pandora Khody with fellow panellists at City university after a live TV Question Time in front of a studio audience. L-R Surelle Stevens, Pandora Khody and Fadz Ali (c) SS for Engage London

Places Pandora likes in Islington
Angel – it’s really small but has so many things to look at and I love one vintage charity shop. It’s also got really nice restaurants and the Business Design Centre where they have shows. I like the way you can walk from Angel to Cally Road by short cuts and can walk to central London.”

King’s Cross– My all time favourite place is King’s Cross. It has an amazing canal view, fountains and events. Also it was there where I worked at London Fashion Week (LFW) at the University of Arts London (UAL) Central St Martin’s where I was accepted ,but didn’t take up the place. I could not have had the experience working for LFW if it was not for Savvas


Pandora is one of the three members of Engage London team who is due to go to Romania to meet  Engage Europe. Safe travels, or as they say in Romania, cālātorii sigure.

Society lacks understanding about the problem of homelessness. Being homeless as a young female adult is very common, especially around Islington. The health care, government, media and stereotypes that we face for being homeless is very harsh. We need to raise the red flag. We need more support – hostels, shelters, access to food, clothing, money and counselling.






#HearMeSpeak team: Brandon Richards

Brandon Richards, 24, spent last winter at the Pilion Trust night shelter for young people. One of the first to join the Engage London project, here Brandon talks about why he got involved. Interview by Catriona Beck

  • Watch the TV show Brandon produced thanks to the Engage London project here. He also did a fab radio interview, on the Engage London podcast, Staying Safe in London, see this link here.
  • Help Brandon develop his animation skills by helping him buy some basic equipment. His target is £500, click this just giving link to help (even a fiver would make a big difference to this talented young man) https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jrentertainment

Brandon Richards (c) Hugh Gary Photography

Q: What was it like growing up in Islington?
“It was fun here. There were a lot of things to aspire to, lots of positive influences but also challenging ones too. My challenges growing up were being misunderstood and not being heard, it was nothing to do with the area I was living in. “

Q: What have you got from the Engage London project?
A: “I’ve learnt how to use the media around me. I’ve also learnt that, I personally, don’t always have to be on stage. I am quite happy to be behind the scenes rather than be a radio presenter – so I’ve learnt something about myself too.”

Q: How did you first become homeless?
“I was expelled from school in Year 11 for selling drugs so I could go to the Prom, then I was coming home high all the time. I was the youngest, my family didn’t understand me, my mum didn’t understand me, she told me to make my own way. I did seven months on the street, it was really difficult. I was with my crew and lived with them for a bit. They were all in their twenties – there was probably around seven or eight of us that were 15-16 years old.”

“I decided to go back home, and it was still the same. I just learnt to bite my tongue but it got worse, and they started to realise that I had stopped resisting their bullshit. One day, I exploded, they didn’t understand what happened. I got thrown out again.”

Q: How did you find the Pilion Trust?
“I became homeless again for the third time in November 2016. A company I was working with referred me to Pilion, because they knew I was nearly exceeding the age limit, but Pilion was flexible and I’ve never met a more down to earth organisation. They’re reliable, they give great advice and give me great information.”

Q: What are you doing in Islington?
“It’s currently where I live. I grew up here – also half the people I know live here too. I spend a lot of time here and I have a little girl who is 15 months.”

“I’m trying to get work, in my departments that I know (Brandon is ace at design, has a clothing brand and expert at new media). Life is good. I’m finding myself again – I first found myself when I was 17. I felt too young for this and I think that is why my family misunderstood me. I tried to breakthrough as an artist, it didn’t quite work, and I started to crumble mentally. Now, I’m learning to speak about things and ask for help when it’s needed.”

  • Watch the TV show Brandon produced thanks to the Engage London project here.

Brandon is one of the three members of Engage London team who are due to go to Romania to meet  Engage Europe. Safe travels, or as they say in Romania, cālātorii sigure.

Five places Brandon likes in Islington

  1. Clerkenwell – I lived there for three months, slept rough in a tower block. The majority of tower blocks in London have massive doors on them and once you do get past them, a resident would almost certainly insult you, rat you out or kick you out of the building, you think you’re safe but not. It happened in Camden – I was there sleeping, felt a door bang and the council kicked me out.
  2. Market Road– just off Caledonian Road, I’ve spent a lot of time there, it’s stained in my memory, and I’ve had lots of good experiences in Market Road park waiting for a night shelter to open. I’ll chill out with people, look at the view, then 6 o’clock would come and you wouldn’t realise!
  3. Finsbury Park– I grew up here, it’s where my journey into life started. I found my first crew in Finsbury Park.
  4. Archway– I’ve a strange attraction to Archway, maybe because it’s in between downtown and uptown. It’s really high up, and I love scenery. It’s a nice place to go and look at the view. It’s a power thing as well – when you’re looking down at the city, you feel really powerful. I feel like a hero, like I’ve got some responsibilities. I want to be a fireman someday.
  5. Angel– it’s the epi-centre. You can get anywhere from Angel. It sounds nice, it’s just the place. When I’m in Angel, I know I’m near somewhere. I’m close to home.

The majority of tower blocks in London have massive doors on them and once you do get past them, a resident would almost certainly insult you, rat you out or kick you out of the building, you think you’re safe but not.

It’s all about style: podcast

Engage London are a stylish bunch, so in their second go in the radio studio at City they decided to move on from safety and knife crime to create a podcast all about personal style. Have a listen…

Planning topics for the TV question time. To involve more people in the project we invited in an audience for a live TV show and, a week later, ran a 2nd podcast training session. City Head of Journalism,Barbara Schofield (standing, using mobey) and Savvas Panas, CEO of the Pilion Trust (at the flipchart) will both be at the Romania workshop (c) Engage London

After reviewing the podcast – created in our first workshop – the #HearMeSpeak team wanted to have a go creating a more freestyle talk show.

Here Fadz, Yasmin, Favour, Gerrell and Jahbary discussed the ways their style has changed. Meanwhile Misgana, Naomi, Amelia, Matt and others were helping use the sound equipment.

Here’s what our podcasters said about the way their personal style has changed as a result of the music they are listening to.  Just click on the link for the podcast:

Has your style changed over the past five years? Ten years? And why – leave a comment if you’d like to join in.

April: what’s happening behind the scenes?

During April the #HearMeSpeak team had a tour of City, University of London, journalism department and three workshops.

1 TOUR OF CITY University of London, journalism department

Our booked room for a post tour debrief on the exterior display at City. (c) Engage London

Tour: included the amazing journalism department with two radio studios, TV studio with seating for an audience, Apple Mac computer rooms with students working on their own projects, two lecture rooms – one with theatre seating and the other cabaret seating (which had computers that could be lowered to provide different studying experiences).

What did you think of City’s journalism department?
“How modern the building is.” Favour

“It was interesting sitting and talking about workshop ideas. I’d like to be able to use this equipment during and after the project.” Brandon

“How do we get access to the equipment for our own projects?” Surelle

“Really loved the equipment.” Marcus


2 PODCAST WORKSHOP (workshop #1)

Planning a podcast at City from Opener to Goodbye. (c) Engage London

Skills learnt:
a) Radio know-how
– including planning and assigning roles – technical (including using Burli autocue), research and presenting.
b) Finding a peg – something that people are talking about. The podcast topic, staying safe in London, was picked because there have been 50 knife and gun attacks on mostly young people by mostly young people over the past few weeks. According to the mainstream press London’s murder rate is now higher than New York. The group know that everyone in Europe will be talking about this so they wanted to give their story. Put another way it’s their narrative focusing on individual experiences.
c) Practice of a variety of interviews including over the phone, face-to-face and vox pop.
d) Working to deadline in a team.

What did you learn? 
“The being team that you require to create a show. I found it interesting creating the script, seeing how the live studio worked and reading live from the prompter.” Surelle 

“It was interesting being part of the brief at the beginning and watching how it came together at the end.” Brandon

“I found editing the audio interesting.” Pandora

“It was easier than I expected – amazing, a real pro-experience.” Martina 

“It was harder than I expected.” Fardowsa 

“Very professional equipment.” Gideon

“I learnt how to edit the audio that has been made. It was amazing. Most interesting was vox pox – approaching strangers and asking their opinion.” Favour.

  • Listen to our Stay Safe in London podcast here.


3 TV WORKSHOP (workshop #2)

#hearmespeak technicians with City technician Dave Goodfellow take a break after learning Tricaster skills and before the TV show is filmed. (c) Engage London

There was a big turn out for the TV show: seven City journalism students, most of the Pilion Trust #hearmespeak team and an audience of around 26. The actual studio seats 35 so we were close to bursting. There was a marked gender split with most of the boys interested in the equipment and technical skill. In the end our four panellists were all young women, apart from the anchor, City 1st year journalism student, Matt.

Most of the participants were surprised by the amount of thinking work that goes into preparing the questions that will be asked by the audience.

Skills learnt:
What each role involves – anchor, panellist, autocue operator, technical director, floor manager, sound manager, camera operators, studio camera operator. City uses Tricaster in its studio.

What did you learn?
Favour (audience/question asker): “We worked together as a team.”

Gemmel (technician/floor manager): “Effective communication makes for a good TV show. It was interesting seeing a collaboration of workers come together to complete a show having fulfilled different roles.”

Naomi (audience/question asker): “I found the presenting interesting, as despite having a script, a lot of it is improvised to match the tone of response provided by the panel. Liked having a platform where we are freely able to express your opinion.”

Gideon (technician): “I learnt about film and lighting working with the studio and camera.”

Surelle (panel): “Found it interesting the order the show runs. Found the discussion well informed.”

Yasmin (panel): “I found it interesting learning about the different and important roles/jobs that go into creating a show. I think the high tech equipment and growing knowledge means we have created a platform that is interesting and eye-catching to a wider audience.”

Pandora (panel): “It’s very fun. It educates the world because youths like us are speaking #hearmespeak.”

Brandon (camera operator): “I found it interesting seeing how to work in your role and help the show to progress. Now we have this #hearmespeak material made, we can broadcast it through our media.”

Jahbarey (technician): “I think I can work as a sound manager. I learnt that the job requires focus. I like the way the #hearmespeak workshops are letting a lot of people know about how young people feel about the issues in society.”

Misgana (technician/studio camera): “I like the camera and learnt many things, like changing the positions. I had no idea before, and now I know what to do.”

Moon (audience): “I found it interesting that the questions are prepared beforehand.”

Thank you to Nandos Islington for donating two jumbo platters. Three panellists and an audience question asker look very happy about this after show snack. (c) Engage London

After the event we all shared some donated Nandos jumbo platters – chicken, corn, garlic bread, coleslaw.

  • Watch the TV show here


Yes! We’ve had 1,000 views. Engage London and #hearmespeak are being heard… (20/4/18) (c) Engage London

=============================================== MORE TO COME

4 REVIEW WORKSHOP (workshop #3)

Back to City university to critique our podcast show. Barbara also ran another session in the radio studio to give people the opportunity to do freestyle podcasting – Fadz, Yasmin, Favour, Gerrell and Jahbary discussed the ways their style has changed. Meanwhile Misgana and others were helping use the sound equipment.

You can listen here, just click the link: .

Planning for Romania
We’ve been having trouble ensuring that everyone has an up-to-date passport so they can join the workshops around Europe. But we do have three keen #HearMeSpeak participants – Surelle, Brandon and Pandora – who will be going to Cluj for the Romania workshop in May. As part of the preparation for this Nicola, who is helping coordinate the project, and Catriona, a 2nd year at City, interviewed them.

5 REVIEW WORKSHOP (workshop #4 TBC)

TV show to be screened at Ringcross Centre plus an opportunity to critique TV making and presenting techniques.

Making TV: #hearmespeak Question Time

For the second Engage London workshop, we moved into the TV studio at City’s Journalism Department. The result was a hard-hitting Question Time show. Please watch then let us know what you think about the #hearmespeak team’s opinions on being street smart and opportunities for young people.

The #hearmespeak team in City TV studio after recording our Question Time show. Topics for the panel included knife crime, sex education, lifelong learning and being gay (c) Amelia Green for Engage London

How do you choose just four panellists for a TV show when you have such a great group of young people, aged 18-25, with a lot to say? Pilion Trust chief exec Savvas Panas decided that the best method would be to pull names from a (metaphorical) hat. That’s how our panel was Yasmin Sharman, Surelle Stevens, Pandora Khody and Fadz Ali. City first year journalism student, Matt Hardy, sporting a jazzy TV-style shirt, took on the role of anchor.

Working on the technical team proved a popular choice too. The whole TV show was filmed by Engage London’s Brandon Richards, Misgana Afesa, Jahbarey Winter, Gerrell Rose and Marcus Simmonds working with City technicians Dave Goodfellow and David Brandsbury. Skills learnt included technical grasp of Tricaster, ability to work in a team, operating the manual camera and  using the audio mixer.

Notes showing planned audience questions. (c) Engage London

With 18 active on the #hearmespeak team, including journalism students and Pilion Trust members, plus an invited audience of 26, there were still plenty of people wanting to have their say on camera for Engage London. So a Question Time format worked well, giving, another six people a chance to raise important views for young Londoners. They also experienced the camera pan on to them when anchor Matt turned to the audience to present their question.

The result was a fabulous show. Watch and enjoy it here (click on the link):


In the audience

Special guest in the audience for our Engage London #hearmespeak TV show was Jennette Arnold, OBE, who has been a member of the London Assembly since 2000 and currently Chair of the London Assembly. (c) Barbara Schofield for Engage London

As well as team members and supporters, we had a special guest in the audience. This was Jennette Arnold who has been a member of the London Assembly since 2000 and is chair of the London Assembly (2017-18). She loved the show, taking a front row seat to be able to see all the action. At the end of the recording, Jennette gave a wrap talk thanking all the #hearmespeak participants saying how much she “loved the professionalism… I have to know what young people in my constituency are feeling. The questions were so relevant.” She ended by inviting us all to “go and visit City Hall,” which is where the Mayoral Assembly members, including Mayor Sadiq Khan are based, just by the River Thames, opposite the Tower of London.


Jennette Arnold, Chair of the London Assembly :  

“A big Thank You 🌹for the welcoming informative time that I spent with you, your collaborators, Students and guest at HEAR ME SPEAK event. You clearly have developed an excellent programme, which has been well received by a number of the students I spoke with. Please do keep me updated on progress, and do not hesitate to call me, if you believe that I can be of assistance to you or your students.”

Lemn Sissay, actor & poet

(From his PA, Sarah) I’m afraid Lemn was away at an event in Lancashire last night but thank you anyway and please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any future enquiries.

Fardowsa Ali (what’s app) #hearmespeak panellist

“It was awesome”

Pandora Khody (what’s app) #hearmespeak panellist

“Thank you guys.”

>>More feedback to come…

#hearmespeak on air: staying safe in London

Staying safe in London – that’s the focus of the #hearmespeak podcast recorded at City, University of London journalism department, on 12 April 2018. This was the group’s first workshop. Let us know what you think, and how you stay safe in London.

Engage London pose just before the clock starts ticking to make a Staying Safe in London podcast. (c) Engage London

Podcast team: Fardowsa Ali, Catriona Beck, Martina Chessa, Favour Ekengwu, Amelia Green, Matt Hardy, Ted Jeffery, Pandora Khody, Alun Macer-Wright, Brandon Richards, Marcus Simmonds, Surelle Stevens, Gideon Tibamagyag.

Thanks to: Richard Evans (producer), Barbara Schofield (from City), David Bransbury and Ahmed Yusuf (technicians), Nicola Baird  (from Islington Faces), Savvas Panas  (from Pilion Trust).

Here you can see a behind-the-scenes film made by City journalism student Amelia Green as the podcast was created.

“Fabulous work from our #HearMeSpeak team this evening! We’re on air – great podcast and brilliant and talented crew.” Barbara Schofield

“Congratulations to everyone in working together as an amazing team to produce a professional radio programme that was educational and entertaining. Very proud of you all.” Savvas Panos

March: what’s happening behind the scenes?

Engage London quickly adopted the hashtag #hearmespeak. The group were recruited in March and loved the idea of learning how to make shows and get their voice heard. While waiting to go to City, the university, for the workshops in April, they got busy figuring out priority topics.

Minutes from #hearmespeak (c) engagelondon

So they got to work themselves.

The WhatsApp group got super busy and several meet-ups were held to discuss ideas. Favour sent in minutes from one of those meetings – thank you. Impressive organisation!

#hearmespeak topic brainstorm (c) Engage London

Top topics
Here are some of the topics that the #hearmespeak group may turn into podcasts, TV debate and blog posts. Can’t wait.


1 Immigration:

  • We all know someone who’s an immigrant
  • Illegal push backs
  • Immigrants wellbeing/opportunity
  • Asylums
  • Immigrant fees are expensive

2 Cost of living in the UK:

  • Housing is expensive
  • Eviction

3 Gender Equality:

  • LGBT
  • Pay Gap
  • Jobs
  • Gay and transgender in prison

4 Social Cleansing:

  • Gentrification – rich people moving into poor areas and the poor has to move out.

5 Social Media:

  • Good and bad about social media
  • Social anxiety

6 Housing:

  • YMCA
  • They need to be shut down due to high crime rate.
  • There is no protection for young people. (Age 17-24)

7 Criminal Injustice:

  • Injustice especially against black boys
  • Unfair judgement for joint enterprise

7 Sexual Health:

  • More information and awareness
  • Free sanitary towel

8 Mental Health

9 NHS and Civil Servants:

  • The government should stop their salary cut.
  • They should invest more

10 More for the homeless:

  • There should be more awareness that there are different ways to help the homeless
  • More awareness about food bank

11 Bullying:

  • Social media instigation
  • Cyber bullying (cyber bullies should be published and shamed)
  • Self-harm
  • Friends
  • Sexual abuse
  • Bully awareness

12 Lack of trust:

  • Between young people and adults
  • Between the governments and society
  • Students and teachers
  • Class and hierarchy discrimination/ being judgemental

13 Lack of public funds, money laundering

14 Environmental protection

15 Friendship

16 Cover year 1994 (cover the 1990s timeline to present)


Yup. We’ve got a lot to do… Thanks to everyone from Engage London for these ideas. Let’s get to the studios.

Meet the new members (film 2)

Engage London – or as we’re starting to be known #hearmespeak – is growing. Meet the new members introducing themselves on this film by City student Amelia Green. Nice work from Brandon, Fadz and Yasar. And hello Yasmin and Charlie. There’s still time to join up… First workshop with the fab media equipment at City will be on 11 April. But some of the #hearmespeak crew also plan to meet on 29 March to figure out who, what, where, when, why, how and what next…

Planning at Thomas More University, Mechelen, Belgium

15 March 2018: Engage Europe colleagues, co-ordinated by Laura and Esther from IHECS (Brussels), met at Thomas More University, Mechelen, Belgium. Report from City, University of London team.

Yarn bombing by old houses along the River Dyle in Mechelen, Belgium (c) Engage London

Q: Where is Mechelen?
Mechelen is in Belgium – quite close! London to Brussels via Eurostar takes just two hours. From Brux Midi station (Brux Midi is the station’s French name; in Flemish it’s Brux Zuid and in English Brussels South) it’s about 20 minutes on another train to Mechelen.

Q: Tell me the basics
Mechelen is midway between Brussels and Antwerp. It’s both a tourist magnet and a university town (a little like York in the UK). The centre boasts the huge 13th century St Rumbold’s cathedral. Facing it is a large city-centre square lined with cafes. At busy commuting times there seems to be an urban ballet performed in the square as bikes weave around pedestrians.

About two years ago Mechelen was traffic-calmed, prioritising people and bikes, over vehicles. As a result us Londoners found it really quiet in the centre. You can actually hear the big Belgian bikes bouncing over the cobbles. Cars can come into the centre in the evening to park in the underground car park beneath the city square. There are buses, but they aren’t red.

Walking and cycling are nice ways to travel around Mechelen to reach Thomas More University. (c) Engage London

Have you heard of this Belgian city?

  • MECHELEN is where Anne Boleyn (1504-36), who famously lost her head to Henry VIII, spent a part of her childhood.
  • Charles V (1500-1558), known as the Holy Roman Emperor (basically he was King of Spain and Italy and parts of Germany until he abdicated to retire to a monastery in 1556) was brought up in Mechelen until he was 17.
  • Mechelen did have a protective city wall and 12 gates. There’s one still standing, known as The Brusselpoort.
  • In the central square the city palace is still used. It is known as the Hof van Busleyden. Years ago philosophers Erasmus and Thomas More both visited this palace, possibly sharing their ideas.
  • Upsettingly Mechelen’s good train links are why between August 1942 – July 1944 the invading German Nazis chose it as a collecting point for the 25,000 Jews and Roma they sent by train to Auschwitz-Birkeneau. At the end of the war when the concentration camp was liberated only 1,240 were still alive (reference).


Engage teams from six universities: Laura (IHECS, Belgium), Anne (Belgium), Esther (IHECS, Belgium), Kiron (Germany), Barbara (London), Caroline (London), Charo (Spain), Cristina (Spain, not in pic), Ovidiu (Romania), Alexandra (Romania) and Nicola (not in pic). (c) Engage London

Engage Europe at Mechelen 
Thomas More University, one of Engage Europe project’s academic partner institutions, is on the ring road. At this centre a team from universities in the European towns of Brussels (IHECS, Laura & Esther), Barcelona (Charo & Cristina), Tübingen (Kiron), Cluj (Alexandra and Ovidiu) and our host Mechelen (Anne) provided updates on their Engage work.

Representatives from City, which is based in Islington, London, shared a powerpoint, film and the gallery on our blog to introduce the young people from the Pilion Trust. Our Hear Me Speak film got a round of applause, so thank you again everyone involved in creating it, in front or behind the camera.

To date radio, podcasts and photography have been the most popular ways around Europe to share media skills and give the young people’s perspectives a voice. Find out more by looking at the partner blogs, see here.

Alexandra from Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca shares Engage Romania’s radio work with Roma, young people with disabilities and also Down’s Syndrome. (c) Engage London

Next meetings during 2018 will all involve practical media collaborations (eg, radio, photography and more). Planned activities include a summer school from 25-27 June (Brussels) and workshops in Cluj-Napoca (24 May-1 June), London (date TBC) and Barcelona (date TBC). We’re so excited for London!

Graffiti on the train at Mechlen. In Brussels we saw brilliant designs everywhere. (c) Engage London