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Filmmaker explores the luxury lifestyles of plantation owners…p23

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“Starting a conversation in YOUR community”


22  THE VOICE APRIL 12 - 18, 2012

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CROYDON PILOTS RACE EQUALITY ‘SCORECARD’ A

RATINGS system that allows communities to monitor how well public services are performing on race equality is being piloted in Croydon. The Race Equality Scorecard project, launched last month, is being piloted by the Runnymede Trust in partnership with Croydon Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Forum, and funded by Trust for

London. Runnymede director Rob Berkeley said the scorecard would help Croydon’s residents and politicians make better decisions about how resources are used. “Croydon is a fascinating and dynamic place, not just because I was born here, but because its ethnic diversity could be a major strength if we work together to build a fairer

future for all residents," he added. “We hope that through this project, Croydon can become a beacon of success that other areas will be able to follow." Runnymede will consult local authorities and public service providers to find out how different ethnic communities are faring in such areas as education, employment, health and housing.

THINK-TANK: Rob Berkeley, director of the Runnymede Trust.

Croydon BME Forum will use the scorecard produced to encourage discussion between communities and local authorities about how to tackle inequality. Although outcomes are different for different ethnic minority groups, overall BME groups are more likely to experience unemployment, low pay and ill health than their white counterparts. It is hoped that raising awareness will help local government and communities work together to narrow inequalities, as well as giving the council credit where inequalities have been reduced. The initiative comes as Croydon Council prepares to publish its equality objectives, a requirement of the 2010 Equality Act.

Talent showcase fundraises for sickle cell

RIGHT NOTE: Without a doubt, 19th century classical composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor – once dubbed the African Mahler – is Croydon’s biggest musical son. The mixed race musician, whose father was from Sierra Leone, died aged 37, after collapsing with pneumonia at West Croydon railway station. But the borough’s musical prowess does not stop there – it is also home to the well-known BRIT School, which has nurtured top talent like Leona Lewis, Amy Winehouse and Adele. Croydon is also synonymous with the dub step movement and music producer Adegbenga ‘Benga’ Adejumo also calls the borough home.

A TALENT agency from Croydon is hosting a special showcase next month to raise money for sickle cell. Advocate Talent is run by 21year-old Anthea Hudson, from Croydon, and caters to artists of all talents from poets to dancers. The event will be held at Fairfield Halls, Croydon on May 20, 2012, to raise money and awareness of Sickle Cell. Sickle Cell is a red blood cell disease is genetic and is passed from parent to child. Those most affected come from Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, and Mediterranean countries. The Sickle Cell and Thalassemia Centre offers screening, advice on current treatments and counselling for affected individuals, their families and carers. It help supports children with remedial education needs. Croydon sickle cell support group is a registered charity and its members include individuals affected with sickle cell as well as their families, carers, supporters and professionals. Their main aim they do is to help improve the quality of life for affected individuals, their families and carer. Hudson said: “As a voluntary group they always need help and support. “This is where our show comes in. We are hoping to put on a dance showcase raising awareness and raise money. All proceeds will go to the Sickle Celland Thalassemia Centre, and to hopefully make this a yearly event.” PERFORM: Rapper/producer Tinyman is one of Advocate Talent’s clients.


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DOCUMENTARY SHOWS SLAVE OWNERS ‘LIVED LIKE JAY-Z AND BEYONCE’ One Croydon woman’s vision to teach students about both sides of the sugar trade By: Trudy Simpson

O

n a trip to Jamaica in 2008, Croydon resident Barbara Kelly saw firsthand how the forced labour of black slaves helped to build the wealth of British aristocracy during the 16th and 17th centuries. One remnant of the trade, Greenwood Great House, stood out against Jamaica’s green hills. The house in Montego Bay, built in 1800 by the Barretts, a wealthy London family whose members was said to include poet Elizabeth BarrettBrowning, is now a museum for those who want to see how the sugar trade helped make British plantation masters rich while their slaves suffered. Kelly, a special education needs teacher and filmmaker, was so moved by the significance of what she saw that she decided to make a documentary about it. “I wanted to show the British public that black people actually contributed to the wealth of this country,” she said. Quoting from British historian James Ferguson’s Traveller’s History of the Caribbean, Kelly said: “In 1720, the value of British trade including imports and exports (from sugar) was estimated at £13 million. By the 1800s, the figure had risen to £67 million. The role of Caribbean colonies in the trading boom was out of all proportion to their size. “From 1773, for instance, imports from the Caribbean amounted to a quarter of total British imports. At the end of the day, slavery was all around sugar. It was enslaving them [black people], working them to provide sugar that was brought to this county. The money that they made from the sugar enabled them to live lavish lives in this country.” With a film crew and the permission of the current owner, Kelly toured the 13bedroom house, taking in the lavish furnishings, polished silverware, antique china and original paintings. The house is also said to contain the largest plantation library in Jamaica, with up to 300 books dating back as early as 1697 and features early editions of classic novels written

by English authors including Charles Dickens. Kelly is now campaigning to have the documentary, called House of Sugar, shown in UK schools. She has also created a 35-minute DVD of her film and a black history workbook with notes and activities for teachers so they can teach the subject to students aged 14 and over. She explained: “It’s a good resource for teachers for an hour’s lesson. They actually watch the DVD. It stops at a particular time and then the children are asked questions and given activities to follow.” Kelly herself was drawn to the subject of black history after growing up in a predominantly white area of Northampton where she recalled a feeling of “oppression”.

INTERVIEW She stumbled across the Greenwood Great house museum after coming up with the idea to interview Jamaican returning resident Thomas “Bob” Betton, who had moved home after two decades living in Hackney, east London. Betton had bought the home from a local family and wanted to turn it into a treasure trove of historical reminders of “the opulent lifestyles of planters in Jamaica.” Kelly recalled: “We walked through the museum and Betton was able to explain every item he has; what year, what era and where it came from. He had things like beautiful antiques. The furniture was beautiful. The workmanship was perfect. What stunned me most were the

WEALTH: Forced labour of slaves allowed owners to live in mansions like Greenwood Great House (pictured)

Charles Dickens books. “The opulence I saw was absolutely amazing. These people were living bigger than the Beckhams and Jay Z and Beyonce. They were living extremely extravagant lifestyles. “Back in the 16th century, sugar was king. The money they were making by today’s equivalent was millions.” Greenwood Great House is open to tourists year round but Kelly was also pleased to see it receives school children from the US and Jamaica on educational visits. Kelly said it was important to teach children about the different cultures that helped shape Jamaica. She added: “When you think about the history of Jamaica, it’s a very multi-cultural island in terms of the different nationalities we have there. It would be very interesting for children to understand.”

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PASSION: Filmmaker Barbara Kelly believes it is important that the full story of the sugar trade is highlighted in schools.

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UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL… I

t is said that everyone has a book in them, and never has the expression held truer than when The Voice team ventured to Fairfield Halls, in Croydon, on March 17. As part of our newspaper’s passion for getting closer than ever to our readers, we spent the day having one-to-one chats with entrepreneurs, famous faces,

a church pastor who also sits as a magistrate and even a woman who set up her business after divine intervention. Their stories helped reinforce how colourful, inspirational and resourceful Britain’s black community really is. We’ve picked some of our favourite moments of the day.

GAME ON WRAP: Former housing officer Paula Rene now runs her own spa and salon Renessence where she offers treatments including Reiki, massage and mineral baths

HAIRY ISSUE: Sky News presenter Lukwesa Burak tells us why she launched Gidore – a hair care range specifically for curly hair of all textures IT FACTOR: Computer whiz Azalea Johansson is a project manager at Joseph Media, a web design and IT solutions company whose clients include HSBC and Saatchi & Saatchi

Their stories helped reinforce how colourful, inspirational and resourceful Britain’s black community really is

SUNNY SMILE: Author and intuitive healer Esther Austin laughs about the weird and wonderful experiences she has encountered

MEETING OF MINDS: The Voice’s Garfield Robinson has a chat with Marjorie Francis, of Croydon-based Healing Waters, which aims to improve the confidence of BME mental health service users

HE’S THE MAN: Reporter Elizabeth Pears interviews Bishop Mark Nicholson, of Croydon’s Acts Christian Church, to find out how he balances pastoral work with upholding the law as a magistrate


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THE ‘WEDDING ANGELS’ WHO MAKE MAGIC HAPPEN Growing up in Croydon By Trudy Simpson

C

ROYDON RESIDENT Sahra Clarke knows only too well that the secret to having a fantastic celebration lies in the planning. For the past four years, she and business partner, Christina Brewster, have helped to make life’s big days special for scores of people. Brewster and Clarke met at university where they studied IT and management, but soon realised their hearts were leading them to a totally different career. They set up Delpeche Events in 2008, whose ethos is to make sure people enjoyed their special occasions without the hassle of organising them. “We both worked for corporate companies in the city but weren’t satisfied,” Clarke explained. “We knew one day we wanted to work together but we weren’t sure how. I was involved with my church and found my skills being used to organise events like the Christmas party and conferences. Christina fell into doing events for her corporate companies. We thought: why not do this together?” Clarke and Brewster are firm

believers in giving top quality at a good price and though they like to organise lavish events they do cater to all budgets. “We do any kind of celebratory party but we specialise in weddings,” she explained. “Basically, over the years we have done corporate events so we do their seasonal parties, you know, some events on boats or in luxurious hotels,” she said. “We’ve also done award ceremonies, fashion shows and milestone birthdays.” Clarke said she wanted to

PARTNERS: Sahra Clarke, left, and Christina Brewster, right, met at uni before going into business together.

ensure more events are organised to a high standard, having attended events where poor planning and a skimpy budget left her and other guests disappointed. Working with a business like

By Bart Chan

SPECIAL: The ‘Wedding Angels’ ensure a bride’s big day goes off without a hitch.

theirs meant peace of mind for her clients, she added. “Some weddings the bride and groom have started the preparations themselves and called us in halfway through because they are feeling overwhelmed by it all. They like to be able to relax with their families on the day and have everything go to plan. They see their dreams made a reality and that is what we do. We take a vision, and make it come true.” The best thing about her job, Clarke said, is: “seeing the satisfaction of our clients. For

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instance, when you do a wedding and the bride has the biggest smile on her face throughout the day, that’s the most important thing to us.” With Delpeche planning a wedding, all the bride and groom have to do is turn up on the day. She added: “We’re very happy to say we have 100 percent success. Every single client has said we have exceeded all of their expectations to the point where, when we do weddings, we are called the wedding angels.”

Voice reporter Bart Chan speaks to a 15year-old schoolboy from Croydon to find out what his life is like. Born to Jamaican parents, Jermaine Malcolm, 15, (pictured) grew up in Croydon, and enjoys his life in the south London suburb. The Edenham School pupil said: “Croydon is a good place to grow up. “There are lots of places to have fun like the leisure centres and bowling alley. I play football with my friends at Goals [a five-a-side football pitch].” However, it is athletics – not football – that the keen sportsman is most passionate about. Jermaine is a member of Sutton and District Athletics Club, where he trains regularly, and his favourite events are the 100m and 200m sprint. “My fastest time in the 100m is 11.96 seconds and 26.1 seconds in the 200m,” Jermaine explained. But his love for sport, has not eclipsed his interest in education and counts English – “because it’s easy” – and geography among his favourite subjects. The GCSE student enjoys writing Science-Fiction which links in with his desire to “learn new stuff about the world and how it works”. Beyond the track, Jermaine enjoys hanging out with friends in town, or relaxing at home and playing computer games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on his cherished X Box. Only thing casts a shadow over young people’s lives in Croydon, says Jermaine. “We need fewer gangs,” he said. “They are a problem, because the people in them go causing trouble.” While he has never had any problems with gangs and stays out of their way, he knows people that have joined them. Jermaine added: “They’re just putting their lives at risk. “One way to counteract gang culture is to get more young people into into activities like sport.


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LAW AND GOD’S ORDER L

You were born and raised in Croydon, how has it changed it over the years? I’ve lived in Croydon all my life. I grew up here. I schooled here. It is more integrated. We are seeing new buildings coming up. There’s a really lovely multicultural atmosphere. It’s changing for the better.

What made you want to become a magistrate? Interesting question. It was actually one of my parishioners who was inspired by something she saw in a magazine. She came up to me and said: “Pastor, this is you!” And I thought, “Me? A magistrate? Why?” She told me that I demonstrated the necessary skills in church. You have a good listening ear, and this is what she said to me, and you know how to make right judgements. I found the comparison she made interesting and it propelled me forward to explore how to go about becoming a magistrate. It was two years in the making before it was made official and, now, 10 years later, here I am.

What do you like most about living here? I think Croydon is a place of opportunity. There are lots of churches. There is a lot of stuff for young people to do. Plus, all the good amenities are here: a Home Office, a good town hall – all of the facilities that can drive it to success.

What kind of training are you given? We get a lot of legal training. We have to learn the legal implications in order to sentence correctly. The law changes all the time, so we have to know those parts that are relevant to the guidelines we are given to help us make fair decisions.

IFELONG CROYDON resident Bishop Mark Nicholson has dedicated his life to God, but has also spent the past 10 years serving his community as a magistrate, or a Justice of the Peace. The accomplished keyboard player is a senior pastor at Acts Christian Ministry. He is married to wife, Lauraine, and is a father-of-three.

Which are you more passionate about: the law or your church? This is always something people ask. People say: “How can you be a magistrate? Do you have the right to judge? I thought about that, because obviously there’s someone in the bible called Solomon who had to use wisdom, knowledge and understanding to make difficult choices. I think they go hand in hand. I am relevant on that platform as a minister, and I am relevant in the courtroom where I am dealing with the community and what’s happening in people’s everyday lives.

I think Croydon is a place of opportunity. There are lots of churches. There is a lot of stuff for young people to do

RELEVANT: Bishop Mark Nicholson feels his skills as a pastor go ‘hand in hand’ with his position as a magistrate

Balancing business with pleasure By Bart Chan

RUNNING A home-based business can be hard work, something that Maxine Pusey is all too familiar with and more than happy to do. Director of Croydon-based business, Ardyss International, Maxine oversees a broad product portfolio. “We do a range of support garments, such as underwear that provides back support and reshaping. It is for both men and women, and there is a maternity line too.” The company, which she has been a part of for two years, also offers nutritional food supplements, skincare and hair products for people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. Maxine, a Croydon resident all her life, is a mother-of-two with a three year-old boy and one year-old girl. Raising a family in the town is made easier by the social services and support provided by the council, she says. “There are lots of facilities here and it’s good for childcare.” She is quick to add that she is lucky not to be a single mother. The entrepreneur believes the character of Croydon has changed down the years. “It has diversified, you see a lot more cultures here now.” Maxine is still convinced that more can be done for Croydon’s large youth population. “There should be more provisions for youth. There

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TOLD YOU SHOULD BE ON TV? IF SO WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

WONDERWOMAN: Entrepreneur Maxine Pusey says it is a challenge being a working mum.

was a Terrestrial Army Centre, which gave them something to do, but the youth clubs are closing down. I don’t know whether that’s related to the Council’s budget cuts.” The direction of where to take things has to change. “We have to move with the times and appeal to what kids want.” She added that last summer’s street riots also had a negative impact on the town.

“The town centre is now a lot quieter, people associate the place with the riots and that has put off people from coming here.” Asked what else Croydon is known for, Maxine says people who come here for the first time find the one-way system confusing. It doesn’t bother her though, she laughs: “I’ve been here long enough to get used to it.”

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28 | THE VOICE APRIL 12-18, 2012

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Community Conversations: Croydon Edition  

The Voice UK newspaper recently took its community roadshow to Croydon. The ebook is now ready for you to read about what black residents ar...

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