Black History Month at SIG

Black History month was celebrated at the Social Interest Group, with activities and celebrations in various services.

Marron House

Our Ealing-based service Marron House held a Black History Month celebration on Monday 11th October. It was a low-key affair with very few external guests but was nonetheless important and impactful.

There were displays on the notice boards with articles on inspirational figures from the black community, chatter and food and much sharing amongst everyone.

The participants discussed the theme, ‘Proud to Be’ by explaining what they felt proud about.

One of the guests was TJ, a recovery worker from the Churchfield and Cherington service. For him Black History Month means a chance for others to be reminded of the contributions that black people have made to Britain. With regards to the theme, he said: “I am proud to be part of a rich culture whose people excel in all areas. I’m proud to be Zimbabwean!” – TJ

Kavita Bhopal is the deputy manager at Marron House and was instrumental in arranging the celebration. She is a member of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion ambassador group and felt that it was important for Black History Month to be acknowledged and celebrated.  She said: “Celebrating Black History Month is important to me as I feel it allows us all to come together and pay tribute and honour and remember key legends who helped towards making vital changes and how the work continues today. It also allows us all to actively take part in self-education and building further knowledge and awareness to help build a world with less hate and more love and acceptance.”

The Mall

Brent services celebrated Black History Month at the Mall on Thursday 14th October with a lunch. This was preceded by discussions on black history month, its origins and history in the UK. Also recognising the contribution and achievements of those blacks who are significant around the world such as, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, James Brown, Carter G. Woodson etc.

Black celebrities with mental health issues such as Kanye West were discussed to encourage Service Users that they too can live full lives. They were reminded that having mental health issues should not stop them from achieving anything if they are motivated. They were encouraged to try to make contributions to the community. It could be as simple as serving teas or taking on a voluntary job.

Synergy

Our Luton Synergy service held a Black History Month celebration on Wednesday 20th. It was a lively affair with discussions about race, ethnicity, multiculturalism and Britishness.

There were wall displays throughout the building as well a table display in the meeting room, with fabric and signs and symbols, stories, poetry, images of black pride and inspirational black figures from around the world and the black community in Britain.

There was a dynamic debate about Black History Month and the meaning of it and whether it was needed. Views ranged from; “We shouldn’t need a month to highlight black history as it should be taught in school anyhow.” to “Yes we need Black History Month so that the contributions of blacks could be highlighted…those who have done so much for the world.”

Norah Kitimbo helped to put the day together and for her Black History Month simply means a reason to be proud and have the spotlight on black people in a positive way.

Rosemarie is proud to be black and Kenyan and proud to be celebrating black history. For her, it’s a chance to “…highlight the history of our struggles which has given us the strength to achieve what we have. We have a duty to make things better for future generations. We won’t achieve equality in our lifetime but maybe in our children’s lifetime.”

Miller House

Miller House’s Black History Month celebration on Friday 22nd October, was a culmination of 3 weeks of planning by staff at Miller House as well as from the other Croydon Services.

Jacqueline Squire, Miller Houses’ service Manager saw the Black History Month celebration as an opportunity to honour Antony Miller and acknowledge the work that he had done. The staff loved the idea of celebrating a home grown ‘hero’ along with the other heroes being celebrated. Jacqueline tasked her staff to each choose a person to research and write a synopsis of circa 300 words on each. She also asked them to discuss this with Service Users and get quotes from them, which could then be incorporated in the displays. She said: “I thought that it was important not only to have the Service Users involved, but that this would help to foster a sense of pride in them.

Norman Alcide, the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion programme manager was also at the event and spoke passionately about why he chose to come to Miller House for their celebration. Norman said: “When I arrived at SIG last year and was told about this amazing and inspirational Director Antony Miller, I was inwardly so proud of his reputation. The scale of his ambition became much clearer when I visited Miller House. It is the first and only project, I’m aware of that has been dedicated to the memory of a staff member. Yet the icing on the cake (of recognition) came in the form of the Antony Miller Initiative Award which is offered to staff who demonstrate creative and effective ways of supporting residents/participants or enhancing service delivery an approach to our work I hold close to my heart.”

Gill Arukpe the Group CEO spoke about Antony in glowing terms and explained that he had a vision for Miller House and would have been so proud of what was accomplished. 

Titilayo Abdul a Recovery Worker sees Black history Month as a celebration of the path that those that went before paved for black people today. He stated: “Black History Month is an important step in the right direction. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but by celebrating black people’s contributions, other’s will be educated as well.”

St Gabriel’s

The focus of this year’s Black History Month celebration at St. Gabriel’s, one of our Brent services, was embracing the significance of how dance, games, food and music have played a significant part in uplifting the culture and used as a coping mechanism.

Staff read out the achievements of inventors, activists and positive role models through the centuries, which was showcased on the BHM 2021 poster board which was created by Service Users and staff. Famous black achievers included were Madam C.J. Walker and Garret Morgan.

Traditional games highlighted were Oware, dominoes and cards.

There was also information shared about the history of Africans in Great Britain since the 16th century and notable Africans of that period.

Music across the genres was played and traditional food and drinks were made and shared amongst attendees.

There will be a workshop in the coming weeks to discuss the lessons learnt from the various celebrations and to make a company-wide plan for next year’s Black History Month.

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