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October is Black History Month!

Black History Month poster

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.

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.

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.

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