Top clubs have been encouraged to follow the example of Altrincham after the club wore a rainbow-coloured kit in a competitive fixture in support of football’s fight against homophobia.

In a move Altrincham say is the first of its kind, the National League North side’s usual red and white stripes were replaced with the colours of the LGBT pride flag for their fixture at home to Bradford (Park Avenue) on Saturday.

The kit features the logo of Football v Homophobia and has attracted global attention.

Campaign director Lou Englefield said: “It’s fantastic for us and has had amazing support.

“You could not believe the debate and talk it’s caused across the world. Obviously it’s also been met with some homophobic and derogatory comments on social media over the last week too, but that happens when people stick their heads over the parapet and Altrincham have done that today.”

Englefield said other non-league clubs have contacted the campaign about making similar statements of support, but she would also like to see clubs from the top end of English football taking part.

“It would be amazing to see one of the big clubs follow Altrincham’s lead,” she said.

“Let’s get that message out as far and as wide as possible.

“But, to be fair, the coverage Altrincham have had has reached Australia, New Zealand, Canada and America, it’s been amazing.”

Before the game kicked off, Altrincham chairman Bill Waterson told the club’s website: “We believe it will be the first time anywhere in the world that a senior football club has worn a kit solely modelled on the LGBT pride flag.

“And Altrincham will, therefore, be creating a small moment of football history.”

The match at the J Davidson Stadium ended 1-1, with Altrincham midfielder Josh Hancock’s first-half finish cancelled out by a scrambled late equaliser from the visitors’ Danny East.

The shirts worn by Altrincham FC players on Saturday will be auctioned off to raise money for The Proud Trust. For more information, click here.

Source – Sky Sports . com / Football

 

At age six, most young children are entering first grade, but not for the extraordinary Joshua Beckford.

Living with high-functioning autism, the child prodigy from Tottenham was, at the age of six, the youngest person ever to attend the prestigious Oxford University.

He received a certificate of excellence after getting distinctions in all his courses which were part of an online learning platform for gifted children.

Now 13 years, the young scholar who has dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon was recently listed in the top 30 most remarkable people in the world with Autism who have impacted society.

But he has his father to thank for this incredible feat. At just 10 months old, Beckford’s father, Knox Daniel, discovered his son’s unique learning capability while he was sitting on his lap in front of the computer.

With the keyboard being the child’s interest, Daniel said: “I started telling [Joshua] what the letters on the keyboard were and I realized that he was remembering and could understand.”

“So, if I told him to point to a letter, he could do it… Then we moved on to colours,” Daniel added.

At the age of three, Beckford could read fluently using phonics. He learned to speak Japanese and even taught himself to touch-type on a computer before he could learn to write.

“Since the age of four, I was on my dad’s laptop and it had a body simulator where I would pull out organs,” said Beckford.

In 2011, his father was aware of a programme at Oxford University that was specific to children between the age of eight and thirteen. To challenge his son, he wrote to Oxford with the hopes of getting admission for his child even though he was younger than the age prescribed for the programme.

Fortunately, Beckford was given the chance to enrol, becoming the youngest student ever accepted. The brilliant chap took a course in philosophy and history and passed both with distinction.

Beckford was too advanced for a standard curriculum; hence he was home-schooled, according to Spectacular Magazine.

Having a keen interest in the affairs of Egypt throughout his studies, the young genius is working on a children’s book about the historic and ancient nation.

Aside from his academic prowess, Beckford serves as the face of the National Autistic Society’s Black and Minority campaign. Being one with high-functioning autism, the young child helps to highlight the challenges minority groups face in their attempt to acquire autism support and services.

Last month, the wonder child was appointed Low Income Families Education (L.I.F.E) Support Ambassador for Boys Mentoring Advocacy Network in Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and the United Kingdom.

BMAN Low Income Families Education (LIFE) Support was established to create educational opportunities for children from low-income families so that they have a hope of positively contributing to a thriving society.

Beckford will further hold a live mentoring session with teenagers and his father, Daniel, will facilitate a mentoring session with parents at the Father And Son Together [FAST] initiative event in Nigeria in August 2019.

In 2017, Beckford won The Positive Role Model Award for Age at The National Diversity Awards, an event which celebrates the excellent achievements of grass-root communities that tackle the issues in today’s society.

The young boy also raises funds for three autism charities (two in Africa and one in the U.K.) and is celebrated for his campaigns to save the environment. He recently wrote the poem Saving Mother Earth at the TEDx International Conference in Vienna.

Parenting a child with high-functioning autism comes with its own challenges, his father added.

“[Joshua] doesn’t like loud noises and always walks on his tip toes and he always eats from the same plate, using the same cutlery, and drinks from the same cup,” hesaid.

He is, however, proud of his son’s achievements and believes he has a bright future ahead.

“I want to save the earth. I want to change the world and change peoples’ ideas to doing the right things about earth,” Beckford once said of his future.

Source – Face 2 Face Africa . com

Most of us take our gender for granted. We don’t worry about people addressing us with the wrong pronouns or challenging which public toilet we use. Should we require a service specific to our gender, we never imagine someone questioning our entitlement to it. Being our gender is like breathing the air, a reflex. Like air, however, gender is a deceptively complex compound.

Our genetic code, our physical bodies, our internal sense of self, our external expressions of identity and the social norms and stereotypes projected upon us – all these factors are implicated in the idea of gender. Most of the time, they align. When they diverge, we are confronted with the complications of gender, compelled to examine it with our conscious brains and to unpack what the complications mean for our values of equality, fairness and human dignity.

Trans people are those whose internal sense of their gender – what psychologists refer to as ‘gender identity’ – diverges from the sex assigned to them at birth. For anyone who is trans, or who knows a trans person, the urgency of acknowledging their real gender is clear.

As in every movement, we must stand together and be heard. The cruelty of denying people their basic right to self-determination contributes to the fact that at least 45% of trans people in the UK have attempted suicide, and a similar proportion have experienced at least one hate crime in the last year.

In the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, the Government took an important step forward by enabling trans people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate, legally recognising their correct gender. This can make a huge difference in applying for jobs and accessing public services. But the Act needs improvement.

The Government’s public consultation on what this reform should look like closes on 19 October  – and it is urgent and critical that everyone who believes in equality uses their voice to support trans rights. The bulk of the proposed reforms aim to eliminate excessively bureaucratic and sometimes traumatising barriers to acquiring a Gender Recognition Certificate. One of those is the requirement that trans people first receive a diagnosis of mental illness – an old-fashioned notion (now rejected by medical professionals) that being trans is a disease.

Another is the requirement to obtain specific medical interventions. Not all trans people want or need such interventions – and the law should not force unnecessary medical treatment upon anyone. A third is the requirement that trans people gather evidence of living in their ‘acquired gender’ for two years. In practice, amassing that evidence can be burdensome. Asking people to suffer without legal recognition for two years is unnecessary and cruel.

A fourth barrier is spousal consent. The Act should be changed to ensure trans people seeking access to a Gender Recognition Certificate cannot be held hostage by an objecting spouse. The Government is also rightly considering how the Act should be amended to recognise people who do not identify with the traditional gender binary.

Source – Metro Newspaper

Hate crimes recorded by police hit record high, Home Office figures show.

Religious hate crime has rocketed by 40 per cent in a year across England and Wales, as the number of offences recorded hits a record high.

New statistics released by the Home Office said more than half of religiously-motivated attacks in 2017-18 were directed at Muslims and the next most-commonly targeted group was Jewish people.

Police recorded a total of 94,098 hate crime offences – more than double the total five years ago – and all categories saw a rise.

“This increase is thought to be largely driven by improvements in police recording, although there has been spikes in hate crime following certain events such as the EU referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017,” the Home Office document said.

“It is thought that the sharp increase in religious hate crimes is due to a rise in these offences following the terrorist attacks in 2017.”

The period covered by the report, April 2017 to March 2018, covers the Islamist atrocities in Manchester, London Bridge and Parsons Green, as well as the far-right Finsbury Park attack.

Darren Osborne, who ploughed a hired van into Muslims leaving Ramadan prayers, cited Isis-inspired attacks among his motivations after being radicalised online in a matter of weeks.

The Home Office said terror offences may also be considered hate crimes, but while the Finsbury Park attack was counted because it was directed against Muslims, Islamists’ declared hatred for Western values could not yet be counted.

Three quarters of hate crimes were recorded as racially motivated, with the number of offences rising by 40 per cent.

Another 12 per cent of incidents were motivated by sexual orientation, up 27 per cent, 9 per cent religious, up 40 per cent, 8 per cent disability, up 30 per cent, and 2 per cent transgender, which was up 32 per cent.

The overall conviction rate for hate crimes has increased to 84.7 per cent, but only a small proportion of reported incidents – 12 per cent – end with someone being charged or summonsed to court.

Around two thirds of victims felt police had treated them fairly, lower than average, and they were more likely to say they had been emotionally effected or been left feeling vulnerable.

The figures were released the day after the government announced a wide-ranging review of hate crime laws, which will consider whether to add new “protected characteristics” including age and gender.

A spokesperson for the Law Commission told The Independent both misogyny and misandry would be considered and it is “not prioritising one area over another”. 

Hate crime is not an offence in itself, but is used to describe other crimes “motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic”, such as attacks and vandalism.

Violence against the person, public order offences, criminal damage and arson made up 96 per cent of hate-crime flagged offences.

Hatred was used to increase punishments handed out in court in more than two thirds of cases involving hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability in the year.

A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) report said sentences were “uplifted” in around 7,700 cases, compared to just a handful a decade ago. 

Chris Long, a chief crown prosecutor, said: “We know being a victim of hate crime is particularly distressing because of the personal nature of the incident and the CPS is committed to robustly prosecuting these cases.

“The continuing increase in the number of offenders who receive increased sentences is a testament to the work of the CPS in building the cases correctly and providing the courts with the information they need to sentence appropriately.” 

Findings from the separate Crime Survey for England and Wales, which tracks the public’s experience of crime rather than what is recorded by police, indicate a drop of 40 per cent in hate crime incidents in the past decade.

 

www . Independent . co . uk  

Disabled people face considerable challenges when it comes to accessibility at UK tourist attractions and getting around on public transport, according to several pieces of new research.

One in four disabled people say negative attitudes from other passengers prevent them from using public transport, while 40 per cent often experience issues or difficulties when travelling by train in the UK, a study from disability equality charity Scope has found.

Its Independent. Confident. Connected report included findings based on interviews with 2,000 UK working age adults with long-term impairments or conditions.

“I can’t just travel spontaneously; there are long waits at train stations,” said wheelchair user Jignesh Vaidya. “Having been assured at one station that they have notified my destination of my arrival time, I often arrive to find there are no staff there to assist me.”

Amit Patel, who is blind, said: “I travel daily on the trains, tubes and buses around London with my guide dog and two-year-old son, confident that I can get the support I need to get to where I need to go.

“But a negative experience can knock that confidence easily. Travel shouldn’t be a barrier to independence. All transport companies provide help for those that need it, but it’s often not well known, or the service isn’t consistent enough or flexible enough to adapt to the needs of disabled people.”

Meanwhile, accessibility awareness is also a major issue. User experience agency Sigma investigated the user-friendliness of public spaces, transport hubs and leisure venues for disabled people by submitting two accessibility requests – one for a person in a wheelchair and another for somebody with autism – to 132 different organisations.

These included airports, train operators, music venues, sports stadiums, hotels and cinemas. Only 46 per cent of organisations responded to the disabled access request from somebody in a wheelchair – this number dropped to 33 per cent when it came to the request for someone with autism.

Some 27 per cent of venues also gave generic responses to requests that would only be suitable for a physically impaired person, without understanding the difference between physical and cognitive conditions.

“In our experience, most companies want to do more – but have not made their accessibility policy or staff awareness a priority,” says Hilary Stephenson, managing director at Sigma. “However, the commercial benefits of providing full access are clear. It is estimated that thousands of businesses could be turning away the custom of as many as one in five people by being inaccessible to people of ranging abilities or conditions; a loss of £212bn.”

Issues around accessible travel have been brought to the fore in the last year by high-profile cases in the media.

In July, comedian Tanya Lee Davis was left “humiliated and embarrassed” after a Great Western train guard tried to get her to move her mobility scooter for a mother and child. BBC journalist Frank Gardner was stranded on an empty plane at Heathrow airport for the second time in six months. And journalist Hollie Brooks felt “like a second-class citizen” when she boarded a Greater Anglia train in August to find her allotted wheelchair space taken up with a catering trolley and boxes of food.

Problems aren’t confined to trains and buses either, as highlighted by disability activist and postgraduate student Bal Deol. Since she steered a campaign to ensure taxis couldn’t refuse to pick up wheelchair users, she says she’s been “blacklisted” by local cab companies in Stoke on Trent.

“Taxi drivers overcharging or refusing to take people like me prevents wheelchair users from living life with the same level of freedom as non-disabled people.

“Last week I was quoted £35 by one taxi driver and £10 by another on the same taxi rank – the disparity is shocking and has obvious financial implications. I have previously been quoted £55 for a one-mile journey after a night out when the going rate for that trip is only £10 for everybody else.”

James Taylor, head of policy and public affairs at Scope, said: “From airports to buses, we’ve heard too many horror stories of disabled people let down by poor infrastructure, bad service, or being treated as an afterthought. This urgently needs to change.

“A genuinely inclusive transport network would allow disabled people to be part of their community, work, and see family and friends.

“Progress towards fair and inclusive transport has been slow, and disabled people want to see change happening a lot faster.”

He added: “That’s why we’re calling on everyone – transport providers, politicians and the public- to play their part.”

 

Source – Independent . co . uk

Abbey has been a human rights advocate in his home country of Uganda, the UK, the Netherlands and France for fifteen years, and is the founder and Director of Out & Proud African LGBTI (OPAL). He was thrown into police cells, tortured and persecuted for promoting homosexuality among Ugandans, and has dedicated his life to challenging homophobia and discrimination. Since 2013, he has helped 86 LGBTI asylum seekers from all over Africa to secure refugee status in France, 70 in the Netherlands, and over 100 in the UK. He has taken risks in exposing himself to media rather than leading the quiet life he would prefer. Recovery from torture and frequent rejection, despite his hope that the UK might welcome him, testifies to his strength and aspiration to serve as a role model, and an inspiration in saving lives.

We spoke with Abbey after he won The Positive Role Model Award for LGBT at The National Diversity Awards 2018. Here’s what he had to say:

What were your thoughts on the other shortlisted nominees within your category?

All the nominees were great in their categories. The line-up was, and when I saw my name among the seven wonderful people who have done exceedingly well, it was a victory bless itself.  Jason John – the work he has done in Trinidad and Tobago is heart-breaking, Virginie Assal, Khakan Qureshi, Sgt Guy Lowe-Barrow, Tracy O’hara, Rebecca Tallon and Shaun Dellenty all those people are great. And I will follow and try to learn from them.

What were your thoughts after winning The Positive Role Model Award for LGBT?

As I mentioned earlier on, the line-up was so strong and fabulous, whose members were a cut above the rest, and whose individuals have made a difference to stand out and be counted. Therefore, finding my name in their midst was nothing but a plus, to say the least.

Despite the fact that I have always admired people who win, it had never clicked into my mind that I would one day be one of them, though, to be honest, I had always considered, in the event of such a thing happening to me, would be a real honour. I often get my satisfaction from changing someone’s life. The people who did not have hope when they hope today is enough for me. However, when my name was called, I was overwhelmed, it all appeared like a dream: it was crazy, incredible and surreal.

What happened to me rekindled and sent my mind burning with the idea that “things I consider to be small mean big things to others; what I have all along been doing for people were services that I considered ordinary and done on humanitarian grounds, yet the recipients perceived them from a different perspective. “My resolve to help the LGBT asylum seekers and refugees was not calculated to win recognitions. To it was like a therapy that relived me from the past suffering. I went through the painful experiences both in my country and in the UK. The experience was so dreadful and scary. This makes me understand what it means to rub shoulders with death, to look direct into the ugly face of death, to suffer: my heart bleeds when I start imaging that other people are going through what I experienced. I wouldn’t like them to experience that kind of suffering, and that is the reason I thought, that even if I don’t have what it takes to effectively help them out, I would still use the limited resources I have to help them.

What reaction have you received from supporters/fellow employees since winning the award?

In my community back home in Uganda, my name has spread like a bush fire in the harmattan, reaching even the remotest part of my country. The people from my community are now aware of the meaning of the acronym “LGBT’.” Of course, they were excited that a Ugandan in the UK had won such a respectable award, and for that matter, they wanted to know the meaning of LGBT, in order to understand the value of the award. However, after knowing exactly what LGBT means, they were very angry.

Nevertheless, despite their unhappiness, their awareness of LGBT in their community may help to provoke some kind of interest to find out why many Ugandans, including people from their local communities are fleeing to the UK and other parts of the world. This may draw their attention to the fact that many are struggling to escape in order to find their way to the UK so as to save their lives from torture, incarceration and possible death because of the draconian laws and mob justice initiated by cultural homophobia. This may help to change their attitude and possibly learn to be tolerant with people who are different from them.

However, the LGBT people and members of OPAL were excited to see one of their members winning such an award. It was cool and surreal.

Now that you have won a National Diversity Award, where are you going to go from here? What are your next steps?

My next step is even to work more. I have just finished my Masters. I am going to do a PhD next year. I am going to use the award as a springboard to push me even further. My interest now is to fight HIV, and Mental Health stigma among LGBT African Community. I will also use it to acquire some funding so that I could even do more. It is an honour and indeed something that can add to my many victories to come.

In your own words, how do you feel the work you are carrying out is making a difference?

I believe the work I do is so important in my community because there are no many Black led charities in London which support LGBT African asylum seekers and refugees. People come to me when they have lost hope. For example, when Lazia Nabbanja came to me, she was on the brink of suicide, within few weeks after knowing her, the Home Office detained her and tried to deport her. While in the detention, she attempted suicide on three occasions. When I went to see her, I promised her that no one would deport her. I visited her at least once a week for the six month she was in detetion. I am happy to say that on 11 October 2018, the Home Office granted her refugee status, she is now thinking of joining college to do nursing and start rebuilding her life.

Why do you think it is important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion?

It is vitally important for them to be highlighted because people need to know the challenges and struggles minorities face. Additionally, recognising the unsung heroes helps to motivate and revitalise their zeal to work even harder, because they will know that their work is changing lives, being acknowledged and appreciated

Who or What is your inspiration?

My inspiration was my father. My father told me that you could be whoever and whatever I wanted to be as long as I was willing to work hard. That was a very powerful statement that proceeded from my father’s mouth. It was a statement of intent and purpose. It reminded me of the philosophical statement that “you are what you think and speak”

If you think small, you will likewise be a man of small, meaningless achievements. Why? Because when you think, you use your mind. Negative thinking reduces the thinker into a slave – you develop a slave-mentality that binds you and becomes a major barrier to your progress or any form of advancement – it kills your handwork spirit and determination to do anything.

If you speak negative about yourself, you will be a nonentity. Why? because there is power in the word. Whatever you say binds you. If it is negative it becomes a curse against your life. Therefore, I compared this philosophy with my father’s statement and found them in positive concurrence: very powerful. I have tried them and found how powerful they are.

What were your thoughts on The National Diversity Awards Ceremony? Did you enjoy your evening?

I had wishful thoughts, thoughts expressing the real need for continuity, and never ever to think of stopping this kind of function, for various reasons: The first reason concerns fellowship> this occasion provides the opportunity for men and women of valour to meet and fellowship by engaging in sharing of experiences and ideas.

Even more importantly is the fact that novices, those attending and getting recognition for the first time, will find this a remarkably gainful experience as they stand to benefit emotionally, psychologically and intellectually – there will be the feel-good-factor that leads to confidence building, morale boost and upskilling through interpersonal communication.

Last but not least, occasions of this magnitude offer real opportunities for making friends and creating a base of fraternity.

RadioReverb has been Brighton & Hove’s local, not-for-profit radio station for the past 11 years, dedicated to providing a stimulating forum for learning and the expression of local ideas. They’re committed to community cohesion through broadcasting shows that reflect the diverse communities that make up the area. Their core value is to provide open access to radio for people under-represented, misrepresented or invisible in mainstream media. This remarkable station broadcasts 24/7 on 97.2FM, DAB+ and online and has a listenership of approximately 30,000 people, with a potential global reach, thanks to their online stream, listen-again service and podcasts. To date, they have provided a platform for numerous pioneering and award-winning shows, including Carousel, a show made by and for people who have learning disabilities, and Sophie Cook Talks, the station’s second trans-presented show.

We spoke with Tracey Allen at RadioReverb after they won The Community Organisation Award for Multi Strand at The National Diversity Awards 2018. Here’s what they had to say:

What were your thoughts on the other shortlisted nominees within your category?

It was superb to be amongst such a diverse range of groups and it made me aware of great work that I didn’t know was going on.


What were your thoughts after winning The Community Organisation Award for Multi Strand?

Wow! Unbelievable! What an honour!  Thank you – this is a massive achievement for such a small organisation.


What reaction have you received from supporters/fellow employees since winning the award?

Everyone is ecstatic and we have had fabulous praise from other media organisations, locally.


Now that you have won a National Diversity Award, where are you going to go from here? What are your next steps?

We are now looking at what we do, but more importantly at what we don’t do and how we can further improve, so that we can keep our title with pride.


In your own words, how do you feel the work you are carrying out is making a difference?

Giving marginalised groups a voice is central to what we do and we know it makes a difference, even if sometimes it’s not popular. It raises awareness and brings new support.


Why do you think it is important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion?

It’s important to educate, inform, give support and help groups to have a stronger voice.


Who or What is your inspiration?

The team at RadioReverb!


What were your thoughts on The National Diversity Awards Ceremony? Did you enjoy your evening?

It was everything I wanted it to be!


Organised by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) the event in Brighton is the first of its kind in the South East.

It takes place on Wednesday at the BMECP (Black and Minority Ethnic Community Partnership) Centre in the city’s Fleet Street.

Millie Simms, a senior RCN officer, said: “For the last few years we have had a Black History Month event in the West Midlands to raise the profile of black and minority health staff and celebrate their contributions.

“This year, we are hosting celebrations in all nine of our UK regions, including the South East.

“This will hopefully be the first of many annual conferences.”

Millie’s reasons for helping organise the event come from her own experiences as a nurse.

She said: “I came over to the UK 20 years ago from South Africa so I can connect with the adaptations and changes you have to make when coming to England.

“I started in King’s College Hospital, London, and I really struggled with the accent and dialect.

“I couldn’t understand the patients and they couldn’t understand me.”

However, Millie found she got on well with everyone in the hospital.

She said: “The patients were, as the name suggests, very patient with me and they would always repeat things if I needed it and help me out.”

The event will recognise and celebrate the British black,

Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) contribution to health and social care over the past 70 years.

Millie said: “We want to look after staff coming from abroad, show that it can be done and support the NHS, that’s where my passion comes from.”

There will be interactive sessions throughout the day alongside a line-up of speakers that includes Paulette Lewis, president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, and Rajay

Herkanaidu, who will talk

about his journey from asylum seeker to senior manager in the NHS.

The event is open to everyone.

Millie said: “Although the title says Black History Month, and people might think this

excludes them, as long as you have been affected by the Bame community then you are welcome.

“If you’re celebrating diversity then everyone should be welcome.”

 

Source – The Argus . co .uk

To be told you are going to fail your exams is a hammer blow for any child. For Abdul-Karim, however, the harsh words of one teacher went even further.

“’You are going to fail in life’, he told me”.

At the same school, however, one teacher inspired him, putting him on the path to becoming a spoken word artist, respected Brixton youth worker and as of last month, a National Diversity Award winner. His media teacher was the first black male teacher he had ever seen. Abdul-Karim went on to study the subject at college. “Representation matters,” he says.

We meet in a cafe behind Brixton Library, which is also the HQ of Young Lambeth Co-operative (YLC), where Abdul-Karim is a Pathway Coordinator. Abdoul, 20, joins us. Earlier this year he was voted onto the YLC steering board after his mentor Abdul-Karim put him forward. As part of his responsibilities, Abdoul refers youth in need to YLC’s social workers. “He’s one of the highest referrers,” says Abdul-Karim.

Young people need mentors, says Abdoul. “A teacher can teach you about a subject but a mentor teaches you about life.”

He hasn’t always been so responsible. The third of six children, he was kicked out of home last year. He was hanging “with bad crowds and doing silly things”, he admits.

When Abdoul was arrested a few years ago, he realised how much the police had on him. “I swear this city has a camera for every two people,” he says. Now, as most local police know him, he’s no longer stopped and searched.

Abdoul has since found accommodation with charity Centrepoint. Under Abdul-Karim’s guidance, he’s successfully completed a SIA security guard training course. He’s in the YouTube reality show Real Life Brixton, under his artist name ‘Traumz’ and is writing his own film script.

Other young people look up to Abdoul. “Before I’d just give them advice,” he says. As part of YLC, he feels he can talk to them in a different way. Engaging community leadership is crucial for tackling youth violence, says Abdul-Karim. He quotes an African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Years of austerity have taken their toll on Brixton, which “used to be very close-knit,” he says. Gentrification, institutional racism and an abdication of responsibility have also taken their toll.

Abdoul agrees: “Right now, there’s no love in the community. Why would you look at another brother, and want to kill him?”

Both men resist blaming youth violence on social media and drill music, a kind of rap. Abdul-Karim sees drill’s glorification of violence as a symptom rather than a cause. “It can sink into your heart,” says Abdoul, then adds, “but it depends on how weak your mind is.”

Last year, Abdul-Karim made a documentary about youth crime called Road 2 Recovery to raise awareness among the Muslim community. Faith leaders need to be accountable for their young congregation’s behaviour, he says. “Often they only care about what’s happening in these four walls.”

The film’s debut brought together 300 people from mosques and prisons, as well as activists and concerned families. Abdul-Karim wants Muslim leaders to install a youth worker at every major mosque. He thinks the Mayor should focus more on the grass-roots: Khan “inherited a difficult job,” but “he’s not doing enough to engage.”

Then on the Friday following this interview, Abdul-Karim was recognised with a National Diversity Award in the ‘Positive Role Model for Age’ category. He had been overwhelmed, after his nomination, by everyone else’s self-written bios, much longer than his own. Nevertheless, he was shortlisted. His mum and aunt were over the moon at his victory – all the more so because he, and they, didn’t attend his graduation ceremony from Goldsmith’s. This prize represented a kind of atonement.

“The most amazing thing about receiving the award is that the community voted, and I’m bringing back to a community that needs hope, ” Abdul-Karim says.

If his stellar work continues, perhaps years from now, we’ll see Abdoul on stage collecting that very same award.

 

Source – Lambeth Life

 

“When I was at school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I grew up,” says Theresa Esan.

“I didn’t have many role models that inspired me.

“There were big international figures like Nelson Mandela and Oprah, but none that I could relate to locally.”

It was because of a lack of local black role models when she was a child that Theresa decided to become a governor at a sixth form college in the London borough of Havering.

Teresa, who has been a governor for nine months, is now helping to front a campaign by the charity Governors for Schools aimed at encouraging greater diversity on school governing boards across England.

The charity works to match skilled and committed volunteers with schools looking for governors.

Why is the charity encouraging diversity?

In a survey of 5,300 governors, conducted by the National Governance Association and the Times Educational Supplement in 2017, 94% of respondents gave their ethnicity as white.

The survey noted that this is “considerably narrower than the averages shown in the census (86% white) and the backgrounds of pupils attending state-funded schools (75% white)”.

Louise Cooper, CEO of Governors for Schools, said: “Breaking down stereotypes and challenging preconceptions of what people think school governors are, is vital in encouraging diversity on governing boards.

“Different viewpoints and skills bring the challenge governing boards need, which in turn provides more rigorous debate in making difficult decisions and ensuring effective governance.”

What does Theresa say?

For Theresa, it’s crucial that children see people like them in positions of influence.

“Growing up in Hampshire there was nobody like me that I could look up to, apart from my mother, ” she says.

“Children and young adults need to be inspired early on in their lives.

“It’s so important that they see people of their own gender and ethnicity and background in senior roles – it helps them to aspire and dream and know things are possible.”

Her view is backed up by Cecilia from Haringey in London.

“I wanted to give back to my former local community. I grew up in Haringey and wanted to contribute to a school that’s making great progress and doing amazing things for children in the borough.

“Most people think I’m quite young to be a governor. But I’ve been able to provide a perspective as a young black woman.

“I’ve made other governors aware of the specific challenges young people in Haringey face, in terms of their relationships not just with education, but within the local community too.”

Theresa, who has been awarded an MBE for services to further education, says she has learnt a lot from her time as a school governor.

“One of the best parts of being a governor is meeting lots of talented and ambitious young people. You can learn so much by talking to them.”

How many vacancies are there?

There are approximately a quarter of a million people volunteering as governors in schools in England.

Governors for Schools currently has 2,721 vacancies across England, and 2,535 of those are outside London.

The charity says the south-east tends to have the most vacancies as it is more densely populated than other areas, and has a high volume of schools.

What does being a governor involve?

Anyone aged over 18 can be a governor and you do not have to be a parent. Governors have three main responsibilities:

  • overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure the money is well spent
  • holding the head teacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils
  • ensuring the school has a clear vision, ethos and direction.

 

Source – BBC News

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