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October is Black History Month!

Take Charge at Innovate Trust

This October we have been celebrating Black History Month! Black History Month is a month-long celebration of the achievements of black people throughout history right up until today. It’s an opportunity for everyone to learn about the history of the black community whilst also taking steps to eradicate the inequality and racism that still exists in our society today. Here at the Skills and Wellbeing Team at Innovate Trust we believe everybody deserves the opportunity to learn some black history and to celebrate Black History Month.

To give our participants the best opportunity to celebrate black history we decided to host two Zoom sessions; Part 1 and Part 2. These were both well attended. This demonstrates how important the topic is to our participants and how greatly they value the opportunity Take Charge has given them to learn something new. Without these accessible, tailored sessions, our participants wouldn’t have had this opportunity.

Our first session, Part 1, started with a discussion on what Black History Month is which was a good way to introduce our participants to the topic. We then spent the majority of the session thinking about how important it is that we celebrate black history and culture and about The Equality Act 2010. This first session focused on two famous black people, Betty Campbell and Ruby Bridges, and how they are relevant to teaching people about black history.

 

We discussed the importance of the black curriculum in schools and how Betty Campbell helped this happen. Betty Campbell was Wales’ first black headteacher and she was actually from Butetown where some of our participants live. It was great to be able to discuss something so close to home which our participants could relate to. We like to tailor our sessions to our participants and including a local Welsh hero is an excellent way to achieve this.

We also covered Ruby Bridges who was the first black child to go to an all-white school in the USA back in 1960. Many of our participants are around the same age as Ruby Bridges and, again, could relate to her because of this. Take Charge is for individuals who are over 25 so we like to use examples from history that they can remember and relate to as we have found it helps with engagement. Our participants were all very empathetic of Ruby’s situation and were spurred on to promote equal rights because of this.

This then led nicely to us discussing the ways we can celebrate Black History Month. We encouraged our participants to go away at the end of the session and to research a famous black person who has done something good which they could then present to the group in our second session. The day before our next session, we called our participants to remind them to do their research. As our participants have work-limiting health conditions, they often need support with remembering to do things like this. Take Charge has the resources to be able to provide this support which ensures our participants don’t miss out and can reach their full potential.

Our second session, Part 2, started with a short recap of last week’s session. We felt this was a nice way to link both of our sessions together. As we advertise our sessions on our in-house social media called Insight, we often get a wide variety of individuals attending, some of whom didn’t attend Part 1. A recap proved to be useful for those who were new to the black history sessions so they didn’t feel left out. It also helped our participants who did attend part 1 as they had the opportunity to consolidate their learning and get back into the mindset of promoting equality for all.

It was then time for our participants to present their research to the group and for us to see who had done their homework! We were pleasantly surprised as the vast majority of participants had taken the time to learn some more back history by themselves. Presenting to the rest of the group was an excellent opportunity for our participants to push themselves out of their comfort zones and to teach others something new including the Take Charge staff! There were some really well thought out presentations and it is clear that our participants are engaging well with the project.

Following on from this, we then covered some important aspects of British black history such as the Windrush Generation. One of our participants had some grandparents who emigrated here as part of the Windrush Generation so it was lovely for him to be able to share his story and his feeling of pride with the group. We also discussed more black history and the fact that black people have actually been present in the UK since Roman times. This led to some questions about why we haven’t heard of any black people prior to the Windrush Generation.

To reiterate the fact that the reason why we haven’t heard of many black British people from history was due to racism we showed an interesting video of Mary Seacole and Florence Nightingale who were both nurses from the Crimean War; one was black and the other was white. This simple analogy was a nice way of further explaining to our participants the impact of racism on what has been recorded throughout history. Our participants often need some support from us such as breaking concepts down into small stages and Take Charge was able to do this for them. This meant that they had a better chance of understanding the concept of history being inaccurately recorded and the effects that can have on people in the future.

Finally, we covered the reasons why racism became unacceptable in this country. Our two main examples were the 1919 Race Riots in Butetown which was, again, local to our participants. We also covered the more topical Black Lives Matter protests and the murder of George Floyd. This was a good opportunity to further discuss the problems with racism and inequality in the world in a safe, supportive atmosphere. Our participants went away from this final session knowing an awful lot more about black history and an eagerness to learn more; a Part 3 session was actually requested!