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ACC L African Caribbean Community Organisation Ltd

Community Magazine Issue 9 Summer 2010


In this edition we focus on education with a number of interviews with various educators. Once again thank you to all those who have to this edition. Special thanks to the advertisers who have helped to make production of this magazine possible. If you wish to discuss circulation, and or advertising, please get in touch. We would like this magazine to be meaningful for you, if there is something you would like us to include or if you would like to contribute an article for future editions, please email me: afca.org@btinternet.com or call 024 7622 3020 You are now able to view previous editions of the magazine online, just visit our website, www.accol.org and click on Magazines. Advertisers in this edition : Fostering & Adoption Team National Blood Service Kumon Women’s Business Development Agency

Disclaimer & Copyright

The views expressed by magazine contributors, do not necessarily represent the views of ACCOL, Those articles written by third parties are the sole responsibility of the writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written. All trademarks, design rights, copyrights, registered names, mottos, logos, used in this magazine are the property of their respective owners and have been reproduced in this magazine with their permission.


CONTENTS Articles in this edition: ACCOL News An interview with the Mayor of Rugby

Congratulations to CLASS (Supplementary School) Interviews with various educators: • • • • •

Micheal Lennox David Barrett Lorna Williams Dexter du Boulay Alvin Leon

Should WE celebrate St Georges Day? What’s on—a selection of Caribbean Carnivals taking place across the country

CELEBRATING ACHIEVEMENTS


ACCOL News Men’s Health Event In June, we repeated our Men’s Health Evening. This is the third time we have held the event, and again it was successful. Highlight of the evening was a presentation by Suresh Rambaran on Prostrate Cancer (a condition that disproportionately affects African Caribbean Men). Suresh is Support Worker for the

Prostrate Cancer Charity and bravely spoke in the bar of the West Indian Centre which is generally the preserve of the dominoes & pool players. The evening also included advice on blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, and natural health cures. Entertainment was provided by Mikey D.

Our Treasurer trying to justify his elevated blood pressure

Business Networking Event In July, we are organising a follow on to the successful business networking event held in November. Our guest speaker will be Karl George MBE who set up his own accountancy business at the age of 23 which eventually merged with Anderson KBS. Karl has written many articles and the book “Most people only try, I make sure” Apart from his business interests, Karl remains committed to his community and particularly mentoring the next generation. Collaborative Research Proposal with Coventry University

Their perception of racism; this extends to exploring the young peoples views on issues such as prejudice and racism as holders or recipients of such views.

Their attitude towards services provided by ‘African-Caribbean’ and other community projects in Coventry and do ‘African Caribbean’ projects meet the current needs of the young people

It is hoped that the proposal will not only help our future funding bids, but also help shape the future of services delivered to young people of African Caribbean Origin Partnership Working

We are working with Coventry University (Dexter duBoulay) to equip ourselves with greater understanding of where young African Caribbean people (14 – 25) are in relation to: •

their sense of identity; do young people identity as being African Caribbean? If yes or no what are the implications for using and accessing services?

We continue to support “The No Name Collaborative” a partnership involving Foleshill Women’s Training, WATCH, Bangladesh Centre, Grapevine & ourselves. Currently most of the work is around networking, exchanging information on funding possibilities, and the threats to the voluntary sector posed by contracting.


Cllr Don Williams,

Rugby’s first black Mayor

Born in the District of St Anne, Jamaica in an area called Aboukir, where he attended Eccestlon school. When and why did you come to England?

“When in was in Jamaica I was a Tailor, a lot of my friends were leaving to come to England, and I decided I wanted to experience England as well. I had a cousin here who said he would receive me, so I left Jamaica in 1957 and came to England with the intention of going to college, but I found it difficult to support myself so I went into engineering and went to college at night. I was doing bookkeeping, but I was told that I would not get a job in the office so I stopped and concentrated on engineering. I was the first of four brothers to come to England.

“Thomas Hunters, I started as a machine operator, then became a setter then charge- hand over six other setters and later on I was put in charge of the night shift with no one above me. One unfortunate thing is that I had to sack two people and they were two of my own, but I had to be fair. I also worked for Daventry Engineers who made car parts, where I learned new skills but was made redundant from their I went to GEC which is now Alstom”. What made you stay in Rugby? “Family ties there was me and my three brothers, including Bruce (Williams) who some people in Coventry may remember” How did you get into being a Councillor?

“I was talking to a man at work who said ‘why don’t you join the labour party?’, I said okay he gave me a membership form, I paid my £3 and when I got my membership card I started going Some people would go to America on six to labour party meetings. One day I got a months contract mostly doing farm wok, but phone call from someone who wanted to put most people were coming to England. In 1951 Enoch Powell went to the West Indies to my name forward to run as a County recruit people to come to England to work. At Councillor, I said no, but he put my name that time the fare was £75 by boat and £85 by forward any, I came second in the election, the next year he put my name forward again and plane, but the Barbadians got free passage once again I came second. The following year because Barbados was the most British of the there was a vacant seat in New Bilton there Caribbean Island, in fact Nelsons Column was were 2 other prospective candidates, one of erected in Trafalgar Square, Bridgetown, whom was a teacher, but I managed to win the Barbados 27 years before the one in Trafalgar selection. I stood against an ex labour Square, London. Councillor who had been deselected an ran for Many people who came to England came with the Conservatives, I got 40% of the vote so was the intention to only stay for five years, were duly elected. I have successfully stood three more times since. you one of them? Why did you come to England and not America?

Over the years I learnt how to present myself on the doorstep, I remember once asking one man for his support, his reply was no he will not support labour and their policies. He was a pensioner so I asked him, ‘do you pay for your What was it like in Rugby in 1957? TV licence, “no” do you pay for prescriptions “no”, do you get winter heating allowance “yes” “In 1957 people were withdrawn, you had to push yourself in and had to learn not to take no so I pointed out that when you add up these benefits it amounts to quite a lot which you for an answer”. would not get from a Conservatives, his reply was then “I was not going to vote but now I will Where was your first job? vote for you”. “I came actually came to stay for 3 years, but then my son was born and the years just passed by”.


So what is it like being Mayor? “It is very interesting and rewarding, I was in Buckingham Palace for Queens Garden Party on Tuesday and had a chat with Prince Charles, who asked me how long I had been Mayor and how long I had been a Councillor he laughed and said you are a brave man. I also saw the Queen, Prince Philip and Camilla. Last week I was at the Lord Lieutenant Garden Party in Stafford. Did you ever think you would see two black mayors in Warwickshire? No, but after I became Mayor I met a woman Christian woman who said “The Lord told me you were going to be mayor”. It’s interesting because the democratic Secretary said she has never seen such a full diary as mine. Every Monday morning I meet with the 3 democratic secretaries to discuss the engagements for the week. I was delighted that the Jamaican High Commissioner was able to attend the Mayor making, he arrived in the country on Tuesday and attended the ceremony on Thursday. I have also been invited to deliver the prayers at the Jamaica Independence service in Westminster. Jamaican High Commissioner Anthony Johnson congratulates Don Williams

Tell me about the West Indian Community in Rugby The West Indian community in Rugby is now older, some have died, some too old to go out and some have gone back home. The younger generation who are mostly born in England have a different outlook on life they are more integrated. I was involved in setting up the town's first Community Relations Council and later the Rugby West Indian Association. I was chair person for Day Care and Secretary for the Association, and my brother is now Chair. What do you think of Diane Abbott running for leadership of the Labour Party? I admire her for putting herself up for leader one thing I did not like was the way she used to knock Tony Blair on TV, nevertheless she is an inspiration to others. Nothing tried nothing gained.” What will you be doing in five/ten years time? In five years I would like to carry on being a Councillor, if health permits, at the moment I am the only West Indian involved in politics in the this Town. Any final words? “Can achieve what you want but have to work for it even ‘when mana was failing from heaven people still had to pick it up”.

Would you encourage others to go into politics? Yes I would and I do try, but people want to know ‘what am I going to get out of it?’ but I say to them it’s not what you can get but what you can do. When on induction around the Town Hall I went into the housing office and one person asked why do you want to be a Councillor anyway? My reply was ‘by me being here I can help you to help people like myself out there’.


about what people’s centred approach is to care Want to start your own business? Not sure but in reality its not properly achieved and I where to start? Want to grow your business? Need some help & guidance? Then would like to demonstrate that it can be done”. read on… What happened next? “I got in touch with the Women’s Business Gladys Mgombane has worked in old people’s Development Agency, who provides free help to nursing homes for women who want to start and grow their own sometime now. Working in the nurs- business, because a friend, who recently set up her own business with the help of WBDA, ing homes she has recommended them for help, support and realised how much guidance through all the steps to starting up. I she can contribute towards helping the was able to access 1-2-1 business advice elderly for longer at sessions with my business advisor, Minal Sodha, who helped me through everything! She helped the homes so she me to rebuild my confidence; she helped me thought that starting up her own busi- with putting a business plan together, helped me access training workshops and more! Minal was ness in Caring also able to give me contact details for Social would give her the Services resulting in my first contract”. chance to use her talents and provide Looking ahead a quality service to “Thanks to the help I have received from WBDA, the elderly! Here she shares her experience of setting up her my business and I am get stronger everyday! I have satisfied customers and I am running my business, GDM Health Care LTD based in Coventry, which is a day service for older people business without fear as I have my confidence back. Having a business advisor is like I have a with dementia. ‘shoulder to lean on when the going gets tough’ For more information about GDM Health Care What motivated you to start your own Ltd please contact Gladys on 024 76 553 133. business? “My main motivation to start my business came as a result of seeing the fact that a lot is said

For more information about how the Women’s Business Development Agency can help you,


CLASS awarded Bronze! CLASS, the Complimentary School run by Coventry West Indian Community Association has been awarded a Bronze Award which acknowledges that CLASS has all the basic policies and procedures in place to run safely and effectively. The Quality Framework is a voluntary quality recognition scheme, which is independent, peer-assessed and selfregulated. It is run for and by supplementary schools and those who support them. It aims to celebrate and record the achievements of supplementary schools and improve quality across the sector. The Quality Framework is administered by the National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education (NRC), which is part of the learning charity ContinYou. The NRC and its activities are funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the John Lyon’s Charity. Supplementary schools can gain a Quality Framework Award at bronze, silver or gold level. These levels cover teaching and learning, governance and community engagement. Schools must complete the Bronze level first to demonstrate that they have essential management and safeguarding procedures in place. Angela Knight, CLASS Co-ordinator “We are very pleased to have received these awards, and now we are aiming for Gold. We have always strived to ensure that our standards are high in order to give our children the best experience. We hope that having this Quality Standard will give parents more confidence in the service that we are providing, knowing that we have policies and procedures that will ensure the safety of their children whilst with us, and that the standard of tuition is of a high standard. “I really enjoy teaching at CLASS it is very rewarding. The standard of teaching is no less than that which deliver in my ‘day job’. Even though on a Saturday morning I am really tired from working in school all week I still make the effort to come as I am passionate about education and want to help to give our young people the best chance of achieving their full potential. Michelle Brown, CLASS Teacher “I always say that we should invest in our young people, which is why I am keen that we continue to run the Supplementary school here at the Centre. We can make a difference to young peoples lives. Many who have attended CLASS have gone on to University and are doing very well”. Vibert Cornwall, Chair, West Indian Community Association Karen Gardner, Contiyou Mentor, who came to assess CLASS for the award commented that “the overall learning environment was very conducive to learning and set out in line with Health & Safety. The children were very welcoming and not afraid to talk to me or engage in the lesson being taught. Children enjoyed their lesson and were given praise where appropriate during the lesson by the Lead teacher and Classroom Assistant.


Excellence

sees neither colour

or gender

We are currently recruiting new children for September 2010 Ages 7-14

Every Saturday (during term-time) 11am to 1pm

KS2 English and Maths, Various cultural projects, KS3 homework and exam support “Drop-In” Sessions, Language support for newly arrived pupils, Support for children on the SEN code of practice CLASS is a complementary school based at the West Indian Centre, with over 15 years of experience. CLASS Registration

Saturday 11 September 2010, 11.00 - 1.00pm

If you want to speak to our experienced team, about our services, please contact us. We are also recruiting volunteers—do you have experience of working with young people, do you need to gain experience as part of your studies, (must be willing to be CRB cleared) If yes then please contact us.


Conversations with educators of future generations Micheal Lennox

sometimes surprised when they first meet me in person.

Born in Coventry, grew I have been teaching for 21 years, former up in Wood End and pupils are now in banking, heads of attended Foxford companies, Doctors and even teachers some School. of whom have comeback to teach at Foxford as well!”. What was it like growing up in Wood Who has been your inspiration? End? “We were the first black family in Wood End, there were “My mum who raised six boys and 2 girls, I other black people in the area but we were was always close to my mum. Another the first family. In those days everyone had influences was Vernon Clements, he was a big to deal with racism on one level or another. influence he always got me involved in Police As a young person we were forever running Liaison meetings and work with CRC from white kids who wanted to beat us up, (Community Relations Council). I remember but I had friends from all nationalities”. when there was trouble at the Coventry Carnival one year when a number of black Did you enjoy school? youth got arrested Vernon and I liased with parents”. “School was good for me, it was perhaps the happiest time of my life in the 70s & 80s. What is your goal in life and have you When I left school I did labouring type jobs achieved it? with friends, it was not until my mentor Milton George realised “I have come through two major illnesses and that I had enough I am quite proud that I have come through qualifications to do with a balanced outlook on life and not bitter. something with my I am really humble and my main goal is to see life and he pushed my children happy and having grandchildren. me towards developing my future. I What is your view on Supplementary worked for fours Schools? years at Holyhead Youth Club as an I used to work at the Supplementary School Assistant youth that is run by the West Indian Centre and also Worker and two the Lula G Project. Supplementary schools years at the West are good for those who find school difficult or Indian Boys Hostel who have missed out. However it is imporon Walsgrave Road. tant to have correct role models who are efficient and professional and set good it was during this period that realised I did standards for pupils. not want to be an assistant I wanted to get more qualifications and everyone was encourWhat keeps you going? aging me to do so. So I went to The College of St Paul & St Mary in Cheltenham to train as “My five children; Tesfa, Renè , Craig, Lutalo a teacher, did a BEd in Maths, then came back and Afiya who are my pride and joy, these are and began teaching Maths at the same school the people I set an example for and try to that I used to be a pupil at!”. How did that support in their growing up, which has it’s feel? “It felt great to give something back, own ups and downs. there were still teachers there that taught me, but they were not surprised that I had gone What advice would give to others? into teaching”. Micheal enjoys teaching and finds it varied, challenging and rewarding. People have the capacity to do anything they want regardless of gender, race or disability “My appearance is completely different to to achieve their goals, you have to be what you would expect a teacher to look like, prepared to take the rough with the smooth but I am quite well spoken so parents are and wheather many storms. We see black


valuable contribution to society and we should all be proud of that situation.

What did you have to do to become a mainstream teacher?

My own major worry is complacency in the community, for instance many people worked very hard to get West Indian Centre, from identification of need, to petitions, and we should all work hard to keep it.

“I have a Certificate of Teaching from the Associated Board of Royal School of Music and a Certificate HE in Jazz Studies from Birmingham University. I started as peripatetic music teacher, which meant that I was teaching in different schools across the Essentially I think anyone can achieve dreams if City and Foxford was one of my schools. develop the appropriate plan of action”. Was it strange going back to teach at the Tell me about your sound system days school where you were a former pupil? “I grew up in the sound system era, in fact I bought Count Spinners system from him when “ Yes it was strange at first going into work I was 16 and played music with the late Gino. with people who used to teach me who were It was around this time that I first got into the now work colleagues”, however the tables have Rasta Movement which is now the most now turned and former students of mine are important part of my life. In the early days this now entering the profession. was difficult as we were shunned by lots of communities, but it was my belief that got What made you go into teaching? through this and my illness that made me really poorly in the early 90s. My love of music and working with young people. I am constantly updating my knowledge on the Rastafarian movement, it’s origins and It’s getting tougher in education these days in beliefs and I am proud to still be wearing terms of discipline and the restrictions and dreadlocks even though they are dusted with paperwork. the silver. It was through the teachings of His Majesty that I wanted to be a teacher I saw this In my first year of teaching as a steel pan as my destiny. teacher I composed a piece of music which was Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

performed by children from Fredrick Bird Junior School at Warwick Arts Centre as part of the National Steel Band Festival and I was interviewed by Anne Diamond for Central News. I have done various TV appearances with various bands that I have taught.

Working hard towards happiness. Six months sunshine, six months in England. I love the Caribbean despite its difficulties, I personally have never had any problems in the Caribbean, I also like Europe and would like to visit the Far What keeps you going? East although I’m a bit frightened of the food!

I will still be married to Amanda who has given New challenges. My latest project Drumestra involves students from primary & secondary me Afiya and Lutalo schools and University. The Fusion of instruments used are: Brazillian Percussion, African The two sides of Djembe, Steel pan, woodwind and brass Mr David Barrett instruments. I am fortunate to have the (Teacher by day, DJ by opportunity to be involved in high profile night) performances fusing these styles, for example, Butterworth Hall at Warwick University, The I asked Dave how he got Belgrade Theatre, Godiva Festival, St Andrews into music and teaching. (Birmingham City's Football Ground). “As a teenager I was Captain in Phase One Steel Orchestra. Following this I left and got into teaching through the performing arts service as a steel pan teacher. My next progression was becoming a mainstream music teacher at Foxford Comprehensive School”.


Advice to others? – A good name is better than riches. Would you encourage others to go into teaching?– If you have a love for young people and a love of the subject you are teaching then yes. How did you get into DJing? Once again my love of music. As a child, I would prefer to play with records than watch TV, I was too young to play the gram so I used to have to ask my sister to put the records on for me. Marshall style of playing came about when I was 16 and going to Holyhead and Tiffany's it was about combining soul and reggae. Going out of town influenced me in terms of the music/night club scene in London where I heard the mix of music that I wanted to hear and play.

on and fight to do course I wanted to do, in the end I had to bring my dad in to ‘have words’. I stayed on for a year and then had to fight to do A levels. I think President Kennedy was the first school to have community education my Mum took advantage of this and came in to study English & maths in the evening, I was impressed with this. When I left school I went to London to work, but decided that I wanted to go onto University So I went to Sussex University and did History. What made you do History?

My mum has very interesting family history, her brother wrote the first Who's Who of Jamaica, his name Thoywell Henry, he also worked for the Jamaica Gleaner and reported Who or what has inspired you? on the second world war, we also used to have visitors like Mr Stennet who also used to “My Mother instilled high values in terms of talk about Jamaican History. I decided to do character versus personality, character is where your true value as an individual lies, it’s history because I wanted to find out more good to have a personality but the depth of a about black history, I had also read CLR James History of the Maroons when I was quite person is how they handle life and young. relationships. Family members such as my brother Dev have I spent 3 years at University, but became pregnant when I finished and could not go to shown me how to achieve goals in life . work so I started doing some tutoring, after a My musical inspiration would be Quincy Jones while I decided that I would like to get into teaching. I already had degree so all I had to a sixty year career in the music business. do was a year and half training as teacher (I did have to re take maths as they would not I would like to give thanks to my heavenly accept my grades). I did my training at Father for his grace and mercy. Coundon Court and the thing that I am proud of is that whilst I was training they employed 10 years time? – I would like to think that I would be breaking new grounds in a variety of me as a teacher because the person that was training me took sick and I was able to take genres. on her role. However when I qualified, I could not get a job so I started doing supply work for City Shommari Waseme Council. I could always get work, but not a (Lorna Williams) job. Eventually I ended up at Caludon as long Born in Coventry, went to term supply teacher, whilst I was working President Kennedy, where there they advertised the job I was doing so I there was only one black applied but did not get it. I saw a job at temporary teacher. Sidney Stinger I applied for it but did not get What was it like at school? an interview, so phoned up to find out why not, they said they could see no reason why because my application was good, almost at There was no racism amongst the students, the same time another job came up, I was but there was a be of Institutional racism invited to apply and was offered that post. I amongst the teachers. I had to fight to stay


worked at Stinger for five years during which time I became Head of RE I now work at Till Hill Wood school still as Head of RE, but now work with a team of teachers with more control and autonomy I have been there for 2 years”. Shommari Enjoys teaching because it means doing something that has an impact. I have worked in lots of different jobs from admin to cleaning, but through teaching you touch people. “I am not an easy teacher I am quite easy going, but when I’m vex they know I’m vex. When left Stringer I had a tutor that was hard, but when I left got lots of cards, flowers and gifts. The caring you get from kids is real, they don’t pretend, they are very frank and honest”. “When you get to the heart of a story you get to the heart of a child and that is the good thing about good teaching, teachers that do not invest time in children are missing out. When I first started at Stinger I was often taken for the cleaner by staff, parents event the cleaners, but these days having changed my name means that parents are not so surprise when they meet me. Schools now have big diaspora of colour which was not there when I started. What are your views on supplementary schools? “I did used to work the Saturday School at the West Indian Centre which was a good training ground for me as it confirmed some of the things that I wanted to do. Supplementary schools are advantageous for communities that it are easy to exclude, not just black children. Schools are now trying to move to individualised education but I cannot see how that is going to be possible within the current system, you just can’t plan for 30 different children in one class. The benefit of Supplementary Schools is that often they can target the needs of individual students in a way that cannot be done in mainstream school”. “Influences in life? My parents who were intelligent people we had discussions that were deep and meaningful and they taught us not to accept the limitations that someone puts on you”.

What keeps you going? The team that I work with and the changes that I see in the children. For me it’s not a hopeless profession but it’s not an easy job. What is your greatest achievement to date? “I am proud of my relationship with my son and other positive relationships”. What is your goal in life? “To live a decent life”. Would you encourage others to go into teaching? “You should have asked me before election. I always have encouraged people to go into teaching, but recently I saw a could of people that I have taught who said that want to go into teaching I wanted to bit my lip not to tell no. Now more than ever teachers get slammed and s are held responsible for a lot but not given the respect for that level of responsibility, You can be a respected teacher but it is not a respected profession. What are you fears and hopes for the Community? Not sure there is a Caribbean community as it should be, there are communities of Caribbean communities, which is not a bad thing but would like to see more working together. I do have some fears; people are very good at criticising from the wings but not good at getting in there and directing, the youth are not hearing the message that my parents gave me, that anything that can be done we can do it and I would like to see more people continuing their involvement in the community. What is it that we stand for? In ten years time? “I will be taking the opportunities that are offered whatever they maybe. My son is doing really well, he is on a positive path and I am proud of his achievements, my nephews and nieces are doing well. I am also proud of my brothers because I don’t think its easy being a black man and finding your own path they have their own set of values and are still culturally honest. Advice = Take every opportunity you can, if you mess up it’s never too late.


Dexter du Boulay Course Director: Applied Community and Social Studies/ Social Welfare and Community Studies

I lived in Chapeltown at a time when the issues with the Yorkshire Ripper was causing problems locally, and the Police were misusing the Stop and Search to harass young Black kids.

Where were your parents from? Father from St Lucia, Mother from St Kitts, they met whilst both working in Curaçao in the ‘Dutch’ West Indies. Moved to England, initially for a few years, still here! Did you enjoy school and did you face any problems (that you want to share)?

Also worked as a Housing Advice volunteer in Harehills, Leeds. As part of the experience I ended up managing student placements from Ilkley College and Bradford University. These were mainly Community Work and Youth work students.

Enjoyed school in parts. Liked being treated as a person by some teachers and encouraged to develop both academically and in sports. I was at a school that had positive sporting and academic role models. As I progressed: Brother was Head Boy, Ricky Hill was one of first local Black kids from our school to become a professional footballer. At the time, early 1970’s, the school had a very diverse ethnic mix of students, the Caribbean students reflected the diversity of the Islands and the ethnic cultures that made up the Caribbean people (e.g. People from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua: people who were of Chinese, Indian, African and European origin).

Part of the deal with my parents of staying in Leeds was to re-take my A Levels to improve my grades. I managed this and decided to go to Ilkley College to study BSC in Community Development. Whilst completing the course I stayed on as a Volunteer in Harehills and arranged for the Youth in Chapeltown to go to Ilkely and developed the placement links with local projects. Ilkley was only 20 miles from Chapeltown but it could have been 200 as many of the Lads had not ventured out of the City and many of the Ilkley students had not been to inner-city areas.

From Ilkely I went on to study a Masters in Town Planning at Oxford Polytechnic. As part of the course I helped to set up a number of tenants associations back in Brent, London to challenge some of the Council’s plans for the Because of the positive role models some teachers encouraged me to focus more on my local areas. athletics to the detriment of my studies. My first paid job, after gaining Masters in Initially this was seen as being part of the Town Planning, was to work in Croydon sporting success of the school and more tasked with helping a local group set up and important than academic success. establish a community centre in Crystal Palace. I oversaw the development of the Tell me a bit about your journey from Centre and its first year of operation. Came to school to becoming a lecturer Coventry as a planner/community development worker and worked with various African“I left school at 18 and went to live in Leeds as a Community Service Volunteer, initially for Caribbean projects in the City; left to work in three months. Liked it so much stayed on for Camden as a Principal Planning Officer being a year as a Youth Worker at the Palace Youth the lead on the Public Consultation for the project in Chapeltown. Part of the role was to Channel Tunnel rail link. While working there I helped to set up a number of neighbourhood set up and manage a Youth Opportunities scheme and run a hostel for young local lads organisations to encourage, especially ethnic minority people, to become involved in the kicked out of the parental homes. The YOP decisions that were being taken in their area. scheme ended up with 20 young people on the scheme, but the hostel was contracted to Returned to Coventry in 1990 to help set-up provide accommodation for 10 young people. and run a capacity building project later As part of this I gained a lot of practical skills known as LIFT. in bid writing, financial management, supervising other young people, networking with employers and other community projects in the City.

LIFT, at the time was trying to establish itself as a co-operative venture involving a range of local organisations in delivering training to other organisations/sectors and sharing their


expertise with each other. This did not work for a variety of reasons so it ran as a local capacity building organisation for organisations in Hillfields and Foleshill. We developed and delivered training courses and obtained external accreditation for some of the programmes from Coventry University. This enabled successful participants of the Training Techniques programme to attend University graduation. It was wonderful to see people like Milton Harvey and Angela walking up the main aisle of the Cathedral to receive their award.

For young black people the emphasis on achieving as high a grade as possible becomes increasingly important as, it is hard to see how the range of opportunities that currently exist under the previous governments widening participation agenda will be maintained. The ‘Big Society’ may provide opportunities to put community development work and community back in the spotlight, if the Government see it as a useful activity in itself. If this is used as a smokescreen for the cuts being implemented in the public sector, then I think it will only add to the separation and competition between communities for the scarce resources.

As part of my role at Coventry I wrote some articles, one of which was developed into an academic paper. At LIFT and later on I was invited to be a guest lecturer on community development and planning related course. This What keeps you going? role took off at Coventry, where I now work part -time lecturing on the Applied Community and “Inner belief in my own ability, support of my Social Studies degree programme. I have been family and a belief in Karma” at Coventry for eight years in this current role. What will you be doing in 10 years time? Do you enjoy lecturing, is there much job satisfaction? “Who knows!”. “Really enjoy lecturing, as it’s a very inter -active process, especially on a course like this. It provides the opportunity to develop relationships with students and help them to develop their potential. Also it is very nice to see these students as practitioners making a difference in their areas of work, based on some very sound principles and not just out to manipulate community issues for their own personal gain. Is there anything you can tell us about how you think Government policy is likely to impact on the University and how you feel this will have a knock on effect for young black people wanting to go to University? Nationally we are waiting to see what the Coalition Government has in mind exactly. The cuts may mean there are less places available to potential students, at a time when higher education is needed to deliver the level of education required to help us out of the recession. There is evidence that shows that young black people in University still underachieve compared to other ethnic groups, this seems higher for males than females, and can vary by course.


ALVIN LEON Music Co-ordinator Hereward College

Oxford Brookes University.

Whilst in my final year at University I was approached Drake Music Project”. Drake Music Born in Coventry to Jamaican parents, Alvin attended Woodway Park School. Project works in partnership with schools, universities, arts organisations, local authorities, music services, software developers as Did you enjoy school? well as individual artists, composers, musicians and music technologists to deliver; “Yes I did even though It was at a time when there were not many black pupils in the school accessible music projects in schools and playschemes focusing on individual needs and and you had to fight your way through. At interests for pupils who face disabling barriers school I had white friends and at home I had to making music. They also provide accessible black friends neither set got on with each music sessions 1 to 1 or in small groups and other, so that was a bit difficult at times”. youth mentoring schemes. What did you do when you left school? Whilst at Drake Project Alvin worked in many different organisational settings across the “I only ever wanted to do music, however my country teachers told me that I had to have a backup plan so When I left school I went onto to do Alvins first experience of working with kids various jobs to fund my music activities”. with disabilities was at Baginton Fields School, which he thoroughly enjoyed. How did you get into music? “Through my older brother who was into rock music and used to play guitar. I was influenced by a wide range of people from The Beatles to Michael Jackson. The first instrument I played was drums. I used to play for the school Orchestra, then I drummed for several local bands”. Alvin is also a self taught pianist which he felt was an advantage to him when applying for University. “When I was 16 in between school and getting a job one of the places that provide what I was looking for was the Holyhead Youth Club, there I met Chris Christie and Milton George. Later I met Ray King who managed me and my production partner, Andrew Harding. We both gained the opportunity to tour for a year throughout Ireland performing for the likes of Nelson Mandela How did you get into teaching? “When I was applying for music related jobs I found it difficult because although I had the skills I had nothing on paper, so I had to ‘play the game’ and get qualified. I did a music Diploma at Coventry University and a separate degree in Arts Practice and Cultural Policy followed by a teaching post graduate at

When the music teacher at Hereward College died suddenly, Alvin was approached by Margaret Taylor who pleaded with him to come and work at the College. By this time Alvin was Senior Tutor with Drake Project and was training teachers to teach people with Special Educational Needs. Alvin then had to make a decision about whether to remain freelance as he was with Drake Project or to go for the more secure option of becoming full-time at Hereward, luckily for Hereward he chose them! Who has been your inspiration? My Mum who was amazing and is still part of my life, there is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about her. Alvin is the proud father of 2 children Ashton who is studying and Nottingham Trent University and Leanne.


Should WE Celebrate St. Georges Day? April 23rd is a memorable date for two reasons. Firstly it is the Birthday of Britain’s most famous poet & playwright William Shakespeare, and it is also the date on which England celebrates its Patron Saint St. George. It is interesting to ask why is this a low key event? It is not a public holiday, and is not as well celebrated as Patron Saints Days of other Countries in Britain, St. Patricks, St David’s and St Andrews Day. Many people blame the failure to celebrate the day on the England’s ethnic minorities, or more particularly political correctness “we don’t want to offend the ethnics” It appears that whenever news run short, the tabloids report on some local authority refusing to fly the flag of St. George over its council buildings Recently in Coventry, the workers building the new Sidney Stringer School put up a flag of St. George to celebrate England’s appearance in the world cup. Managers from the main contractors told them to take it down. Several reasons were offered, e.g. the flag was not the company’s logo, and it was insensitive to fly the flag in Hillfields opposite the many ethnically owned shops. This has provoked outrage in the letters column of the Coventry Evening Telegraph a typical comment being “if they don’t like it why don’t they go back to where they came from” Few ever make reference to the fact that the Flag of St. George has been claimed by right wing parties in Britain, The BNP, National Front and latterly the English Defence League. Parties who compete with each other to boast about how they would rid Britain’s of its ethnic communities

Common depiction of St. George

St. George is believed to have been born in Cappadocia (now Eastern Turkey) in the year A.D. 270. Others sources say he was born in Libya or Palestine. He was a Christian and at the age of seventeen he joined the Roman army and soon became renowned for his bravery. He served under a pagan Emperor but never forgot his Christian faith. When the pagan Emperor Diocletian started persecuting Christians, St. George pleaded with the Emperor to spare their lives. However, St. George's pleas fell on deaf ears and it is thought that the Emperor Diocletian tried to make St. George deny his faith in Christ, by torturing him. St George showed incredible courage and faith and was finally beheaded near Lydda in Palestine on 23 April, 303. In 1222, the Council of Oxford declared April 23 to be St George’s Day and he replaced St Edmund the Martyr as England’s patron saint In 1415, April 23 was made a national feast day.

St George is patron saint not only of England but also of Aragon, Catalonia, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia, as well as the cities of Amersfoort, Beirut, Bteghrine, Cáceres, How many of those who fly the flag know the Ferrara, Freiburg, Genoa, Ljubljana, Gozo, history of St. George and where he came from. Pomorie, Qormi, Lod and Moscow. St George The most famous legend of Saint George is of is also patron saint of scouts, soldiers, him slaying a dragon. The slaying of the archers, cavalry and chivalry, farmers and field dragon by St George was first credited to him workers, riders and saddlers, and he helps in the twelfth century, long after his death. It those suffering from leprosy, and plague. is therefore likely that the many stories connected with St George's name are fictiSt George & Ethiopia tious. There are many versions of the story of St George slaying the dragon, but most agree St George is one of the most important saints that a town was terrorised by a dragon, a in Ethiopia. Paintings of him were taken into young princess was offered to the dragon, battle ahead of the Ethiopian army to give when George heard about this he rode into them victory. The most popular football team the village. George slayed the dragon and is St. Georges, and the most popular beer is rescued the princess. . In the middle Ages the also known as St. Georges. Many pictures & dragon was commonly used to represent the windows in churches in Ethiopia represent St. Devil. George.


The most remarkable of the Lalibela churches, (churches sculpted, both inside and out, directly from the living bedrock of the earth) called Bet Giorgis, is dedicated to St. George. According to legend, when King Lalibela had almost completed the group of churches which God had instructed him to build, Saint George appeared (in full armour and riding his white horse) and sharply reproached the king for not having constructed a house for him. Lalibela promised to build a church more beautiful than all the others for the saint. The church of Bet Giorgis is a nearly perfect cube, hewn in the shape of a cross, and is oriented so that the main entrance is in the west and the holy of holies in the east. The nine windows of the bottom row are blind; the twelve windows above are functional. One of the most sophisticated details of Bet Giorgis is that the wall thickness increases step by step

downwards but that the horizontal bands of moulding on the exterior walls cleverly hide the increase. The roof decoration, often used today as the symbol of the Lalibela monuments, is a relief of three equilateral Greek crosses inside each other. The church is set in a deep pit with perpendicular walls and it can only be entered via a hidden tunnel carved in the stone. It is interesting to speculate on how many of those who fly the flag of St. George (particularly those from the far right) realise that their patron Saint is in fact Arabic and that his deeds are celebrated throughout the world. It appears that in fact St. George is a model for our Multi Cultural Society hence the question should we celebrate St. George.


WHAT’s ON Caribbean Independence days 31 August Trinidad Independence

19 September St Kitts & Nevis Independence

21 September Belize Independence

Carnivals & Festivals across the UK Nottingham Caribbean Carnival Date: 14 - 15 August Venue: Forest Recreation Ground Details of event: Experience the sights and sound of the Caribbean – live music, arts & crafts stalls, carnival parade (Sunday), global market and music from Nottingham and across the World. Admission fee: FREE


Check out The West Indian Centre beer tent Check out park, our beer at the & tent at join the park, then us for party andthe thenafter join us for

the after party

Info Hotlines 024 7655 2929 0784 323 9975 0797 465 3197

West Indian Centre 159 Spon Street Coventry CV1 3BB

10pm to 4am ÂŁ7 (non members) Free for members (Must show upup-toto-date membership card)

African Caribbean Community Organisation Ltd c/o Coventry West Indian Centre 159 Spon Street Coventry CV1 3BB T: 024 7622 3020 M: 079 0386 8802 Email: afca.org@btinternet.com Website: www.accol.org


Summer 2010