Thursday, 22 May 2014

Guest Blog from Rianna the Founder of Shine Aloud

This is a guest blog by Rianna Raymond-Williams who set up Shine ALOUD

I always knew I wanted to be writer, but after countless work experiences and placements in the media industry, I couldn’t find myself just settling for one publication. From beauty to celebrity news, finance to politics, art and album reviews, I had done it all, but I still wasn’t happy. My experience working for the Terrence Higgins Trust as a Sexual Health Assistant highlighted to me that there was a problem amongst young people when it came to sexual health. Not only were the young people I engaged with misinformed about the facts, but simply discussing partners and relationships made them feel uncomfortable, which for me was a huge light bulb moment! I would often find publications on sex and relationships too formal, biological and overall boring. They were not age appropriate or young people friendly which for me, as a young person myself, was very disengaging! I wanted something that was educationally compelling yet fun and interactive.

I started Shine ALOUD magazine on an internship in 2011, I approached the editor of the publication I was interning at with my idea and he was very supportive in helping me to create a flat plan for the magazine. The flat plan helped me to think about what articles would be in Shine ALOUD, who the target audience would be and overall, it lead me to think about what I wanted people to gain from engaging in the publication.

With a £300 O2 Think Big Grant, article and artwork contributions from close friends and journalism student and of course a helping hand in design from a media colleague of mine, Shine ALOUD was created. Initially, I hadn’t thought beyond the first issue, it was simply just a mini project I had started before my second year of university began, but the response and feedback I got from readers after the first issue showed me it was a much needed resource.

I continued to release Shine ALOUD on a quarterly basis through 2011 – 2012 whereby I began to create partnership with various sexual health promotion companies and charities, youth empowerment organisation and youth media enterprise across London. Shine ALOUD quickly became a sexual health publication for young people, by young, with the aim of educating and entertain youth about sex and relationships combined with arts and culture. I received cash injection and business support from Zeon Richards, The Alec Dickinson Trust, Starbucks Youth in Action, Business in the Community and most recently Lloyds Banking Group, as a result of me enrolling on the Start Up Programme with The School for Social Entrepreneurs which I am currently on.

Thankfully Shine ALOUD has attracted an audience of over 28,000 people, all of whom are avid readers and followers of, which for me is a demonstration of its need and want in the community! My plans for the future are to make Shine ALOUD an international social enterprise.

Firstly, by producing a sexual health publication regionally across the country, thereby allowing young people to gain skills in media through creating and producing a quarterly publication, in addition to maintaining a virtual online website. Secondly, I hope to deliver sexual health awareness workshops across youth provisions and in and around the community, thereby allowing young people to gain qualifications in sexual health awareness and youth work, providing them with the opportunity to gain transferable skills for the working work and further develop as professionals.

And lastly to embark on cultural exchanges with young people overseas, providing education to those who most need it across the globe, thereby allowing young people to meet other young people internationally and discuss how and why sexual health agendas differ. Shine ALOUD aims to empower young people to make informed choices regarding sex and relationships.

Shine ALOUD – Sex & Relationships with a different tone! Rianna is now running a crowd funding campaign to raise money to take Shine ALOUD further. To support her on her journey of raising £10,000 follow the link below: Shine ALOUD UK: The Sexual Empowerment of Young People! (

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