Featured in Fifteen was set up in 2017 by two good friends, Helen Holden and Maya Weier. After the devastating impact of Grenfell and the terrorist attacks in London, they wanted to create an evening of positivity and hope that would pull their community together. They sat and thrashed out ideas around ‘What would be our perfect night out?’ The answer was – an evening of interesting discussions that provoke us to think more openly. The idea of providing an audience with more than one speaker (with a drink in hand) in a considered time frame (15 minutes) felt like an interesting challenge for them…So that’s when Featured in Fifteen first came to life.
Their events (up until Covid19) were a live event held bi-monthly in the Signal Pub, Forest Hill. Helen and Maya would work together finding their features with very different personal stories to explore their theme; be it someone that has been challenged by mental health, an artist that is working for societal impact, explorer, writer, someone living with terminal illness… you name it – they seek it and they find it. For those that have had the privilege to be at one of their events, you will all have experienced how unique these nights are and what inspiration and intrigue each and every one of them presents.
Since 2017 Helen and Maya have successfully hosted 15 events representing almost a 100 individuals. Helen and Maya set out from the very beginning to provide a night that was inclusive to all and just by looking at their past events on their website (featured15.co.uk) you can see the rich diversity of age, gender and ethnicity within every single one of their evenings; fulfilling their ambition to amplify community and bring people back together.
With Covid19 hitting our shores and sending shockwaves through every aspect of our personal freedoms, like so many other events of this nature, the pandemic presents bleak outlook on what their future featured in fifteen events will look like. But Helen and Maya, true to form, haven’t let this stop them. After spending a few weeks pondering what their landscape of lockdown looked like and readjusting to their new norm, they connected via a few phone calls and went back to the drawing board. They decided that it was time to work on their podcasting presence.
Very quickly they found an online platform that they could podcast from separate locations. Within hours, miraculously they not only found something that could work for them but something that appeared pretty straight-forward to use. If it’s one thing they do extremely well together, they certainly do not waste time. The conversation happened in their separate homes on Easter Sunday and two hours later they were recording their first episode. By the following Friday (17th April) it was available for download – the story of featured in fifteen. Since then they have released 3 podcast interviews with past features and recorded six more, their podcasts are scheduled to be released on Spotify and iTunes every Friday.
For Helen and Maya Covid19 allowed them time to explore the expansion of their project which until then they felt challenged to make happen. They were determined to not let unpredictable times and societal challenges get in the way of doing what they do best – bringing real stories and open conversations to their community.
This article first appeared in SE21, SE22 & SE23 magazines in June 2020.