I had some really upsetting news today. A website I have been contributing to and writing for since 2010 is being shut down. That may not sound like much, considering it’s just a website, but CLIConline was more than that to me.
I first became involved with CLIConline.co.uk in December 2010 after it being recommended to me by a friend as I’ve always been a keen writer. CLIC is a website by young people for young people between the ages of 11-25 across Wales. It covers a wide range of subjects and issues, including where to get support in your local area. A free platform for young people to voice their opinion on absolutely anything that mattered to them. I’m part of the editorial team for my local site, WICID.TV, which is the website for my county. After just weeks of seeing my own writing posted onto an actual website that wasn’t a personal blog, I felt so happy. My thoughts and my writing was public for people, for my peers, to read.
In February 2011, I was offered the chance to go away with the national editorial group (all the smaller editorial groups from across Wales filtering into one big team to have a say on what goes on with CLIC, the national site) for a weekend in Anglesey. This was an immensely big step for me. I suffer with anxiety and cyclothymia and at the age of 15 I had never stayed anywhere without my parents before. Anglesey is located at the top of North Wales and I live in South Wales. It was a long way and something daring for me to do, considering my condition. That weekend was probably the most important weekend of my entire life. I got on the coach anxious and shy and returned home after making so many friends from across the country, a whole new bundle of confidence and a heck of a lot of new knowledge that school had never taught me.
2011 saw so many opportunities for me that I will never forget. From interviewing people to going on residential weekends and even participating in youth related events. I did so much and grew massively as a person. I even realised that I wanted to become a journalist for a career.
The end of that year, at the first ever CLICawards, I was crowned CLICer of the Year. Basically, the big award for everything they have done from the website. Things had changed massively for me from that weekend in February to the glitz and glam of the awards ceremony in November.
Even when I had a downfall with my anxiety and had to leave school earlier than planned, CLIC was always there for me. From advice to offering support and just being there for me to write to my heart’s content to distract me from my bad times, CLIC has always been a second family.
Over the entire time I have been part of the project, I have made some amazing friends with both the staff and other young people. Some you could say are friends for life. Different ages; different ethnicities; different backgrounds; different abilities; it didn’t matter. Nothing like that was ever an issue. We were all one big happy family and loved and supported each other. Some websites are purely work based. You do your 9-5 in the office, you’ll have a bit of banter but that’s just work. This was never the case for CLIC. The free service was amazing because you could gain so much for your CV: qualifications, opportunities that you wouldn’t find elsewhere, portfolio work. Everything was so useful and so fun at the same time.
I’d love to tell you about every memory I’ve had with CLIC, but there are just way too many to talk about. From the time we spent 10 hours on a bus travelling across the country to Battle of the Bands, the CLIC Awards, visits to the Eisteddfod, all nighters on the residentials, all of it was a hell of a lot of fun and made so many happy memories throughout my teenhood.
If you look at what I do now and what I have done, I highly doubt that any of it would have been possible without CLIC in my life. People I’ve met, things I’ve done… I genuinely have no idea what I’d be doing now without this amazing youth website and community. I don’t even know how I would have pulled through my worst times or even if I would have gained confidence from that vital weekend back in 2011.
CLIC is important to many young people. There’s not many services like it and it has done so much good for so many. Experience, gaining skills, growing confidence and, most importantly, our voices can be heard through the platform. What will we do without CLIC? Where will we be? How can we voice our thoughts and opinions, now?
I know good things always come to an end and I understand that sometimes things have to happen and there’s nothing we could do about it. But if I could, believe me, I would. Hearing about the closure of CLIC made a lump in my throat, a sting in my eyes and felt like a part of me was being ripped out of my body. I wish I knew what I could do to stop this from happening and I wish I could make it all better. I know I’m not the only one upset or hurt or even angered by this.
To everyone at CLIC, thank you so much. Thank you for being there for me and helping me learn and grow as a person. Even to the people I’ve lost contact with. Thank you. I’ve had an amazing time and it genuinely pains me to say goodbye. But I can’t say goodbye because saying goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting… I’ll never forget any of you and I’m hoping and dreaming that we’ll be able to all meet again and go on one more residential or do something together. I love you all so much and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for everything. I will never ever forget you – such a big and important part of my life.