Category Archives: Community Development

Psychological Sounding Board

As a people, we need psychological intervention. There is a need for us on an individual and family level sort out our dysfunction. I’m not too proud to say I am suffering as a result of dysfunction.

It was only later in my 30’s and late 20’s that I realised the need to go for counselling. At first, I thought I was mentally ill and might have deep-lying problems As I was displaying very dysfunctional behaviours with no explanations. Though I learnt to let go or manage these behaviours and relationships I have for the better.

I have been a few times and it’s a slow process but I’d say I have had around 40 sessions. I’m hoping to get more in life further down the road. This is where black people come in we need a level of therapeutic measures. Men do not talk about feelings or express how they may feel but this does not have to mean you cry or have anger. You could be verbalising the frustration or anger you have.

A belief exists that you can pray a problem away if you are religious or push through it. This can build character but the problem will express itself through other behaviours. I appreciate there is a level of mistrust of using these services, though there is a level of confidentiality (although if something which is harmful to you or another is disclosed then the counsellor must disclose it to the authorities).

I most likely come off like the ideal Aquarius I am. Many black people go to see the doctor if they are physically ill. If you are mentally sick there is a reluctance to see a therapist or counsellor at an early stage to resolve the issue before it gets serious. As a people we let things get out of hand then take the nuclear option of sectioning the person and prescription medicine with its numerous side effects. This in many (but not all) can be avoided, with more education and an open mind.

If we understand that a lack of vitamin D, unfamiliar western lifestyles, dysfunction, individual processes against our collective nature and no one accord in different households we would be better off for going to the counselling services.

It doesn’t matter the race of the counsellor so long as they are professional and are a sounding board for our problems, which we find difficult to resolve between ourselves. The legacy of this could be greater communication between ourselves and more ability to recognise dysfunction which could halt greater incidence of mental health issues.

Here are some sources from both the UK and America on how you can get access to counselling (please click on the title):

UK (National)

NHS

Mind

US

Mental Health America

Shape – Affordable Therapy

Pro Bono/ Free Therapy

Starting you Own Group/Venture

This space has resources often to help you create or find a venture or group. Often if you are creating one then business plays a part as you want to be able to be self-sufficient from the start or near there if you are funded.

One of the difficulties organisations have is looking at a business model to begin with. The first question being who do I sell services to if people who are in need want to use it and likley cannot afford.

This can be answered by partnering with a local organisations or services and selling your service to them.  An example would be a day centre for vulnerable adults, the adults pay through their personal budgets to attend. Or a local authority pays for each person to attend sessions at a workshop your organisation provides as it finds it cheaper to use an external source rather than an internal one.

One thing to consider would be going to tender to get these services. Its where public services set out what service they need then your service shows if it ticks all the boxes and matches what the outcome of the service will be for the end user.

Organisations can also use membership or subscription to sustain itself depending on what you do in general. Like a business a organisation to be most effective must have a unique offering and benefit to the local and wider community. They can have a less unique purpose but there will be more competition for end users and funding. It may have greater challenges.

Check out the sources on building a organisation below:

Funding and Resources

Setting Up A Business

Social Enterprises information

Social Enterprise Body

Community Interest Companies

Charitable Organisational Structure

International Development

As a guy who was interested in international development, volunteered in a developing country and worked a admin job at a international development department in the government at one time and wanted to study international development but found it an expensive process just to volunteer with a Non governmental organisation. 

I remember being interested in working for some of the charities (known as third sector organisations), but I did no get into these organisations as I was black and working class, without a masters degree. I learned that international development can only be undertaken by those who are from the place or diasporas around the world through remittance and knowledge of social, political and economic development.

The different international development charities are sending aid to countries as a form of diplomacy to lay the ground work for private and external government agencies to come and take minerals. Most of the mainstream charities are on the surface not truthful, with where the money goes. Much of the money you donate can be spent on administration and consultants.

Charity directors, consultants and office staff get paid a lot and so only a fraction of the money you donate to a charity gets to go to people on the ground. If you want to donate to a organisation look for a group from the country who is working on the ground, buying supplies or actually building things.

This is not to say charities do not do nothing its just they are not the most efficient at using donations or funding and so you will find your funding someones “bus-mans holiday”.

Further Information (External sources)

Charity Jobs (CharityJob.co.uk)

Practical Action (practicalaction.org)

Projects Abroad (www.projects-abroad.co.uk)

Volunteering in international Development (theGuardian.com – UK article)

Bond (www.bond.org.uk)

Uplifting the Diaspora

As a guy who was interested in international development, volunteered in a developing country and worked a admin job at a international development department in the government at one time and wanted to study international development but found it an expensive process just to volunteer with a Non governmental organisation. I am interested in the process in Haiti.

I remember being interested in working for some of the charities (known as third sector organisations), but I did no get into these organisations as I was black and working class, without a masters degree.

I learned that international development can only be undertaken by those who are from the place or diaspora around the world through remittance and knowledge of social, political and economic development.

The different international development charities are sending aid to countries as a form of diplomacy to lay the ground work for private and external government agencies to come and take minerals. Most of the mainstream charities are on the surface not truthful, with where the money goes. Much of the money you donate can be spent on administration and consultants.

Charity directors, consultants and office staff get paid a lot and so only a fraction of the money you donate to a charity gets to go to people on the ground. If you want to donate to a organisation look for a group from the country who is working on the ground, buying supplies or actually building things.

This is not to say charities do not do nothing its just they are not the most efficient at using donations or funding and so you will find your funding someone’s “busman’s holiday”.

Further Information

International Development Meaning (Wikipedia)

Relief Website (International Development) – (Reliefweb)

 

Economic Developments

Over the last few months in the UK there has been much discussion about the UK’s exit from the European Union and how this can affect both the UK and the international economy. The UK is in a period of transition around the world and also the world is too to a smaller degree.

In regards to black people in the UK this is a time when we can take advantage and get back to the levels of business ownership before the early 1990’s. There are programmes out there for people in their late teens and early youth. Though, if like me, you are early 30s there are some ways in which you will be able to benefit. If you have experience of professional work or have an interest in a trade then there will be more opportunities to do this.

This is a time when you will need to have an added income, rather than just a job, two or three incomes each is needed since the economy is weakening.

There are other schemes available for you to use you can get these from the businesses resources section of the website

(Some) Further Resources (Books and Podcasts):

Smart Passive Income

$100 Dollar Start Up

4 Hour work Week

Lean Start Up

Entrepreneur Revolution

 

Black Based Food Quarter

In the UK it is that time of year where the sun should be out and the weather is much warmer. This means there are festivals up and down the country and this includes African and Caribbean based ones, like most cultures food is an important aspect, how its prepared and cooked which makes it distinctive from other cultures.

It is good that there are food festivals of African and Caribbean foods, but what would be a great thing would be if there was incentives for the food vendors to create more businesses in particular areas in the UK.

In the studying and working within the regeneration sector, one of the project which spring to mind which I worked on was a food quarter, which was used as a basis for developing an ethnic food quarter in South Wales. This was seen as a way you could get jobs and investement into a local area.

Like many of the blogs I have written previously, I am no expert and I am not just trying to talk about the problem, I would like to add something of value into the discussion which is actionable.

There are areas of cities and towns in the UK which have ethnicities stamps on them, just not the Caribbean and African Stamp. This is demonstrated by the South and South East Asians who have their own areas and towns, with restaurants, food shops and market stalls, like China Town and Pakistani and Indian areas, throughout the UK..

For example each area of the country where there is a sizeable South Asian population you will find a area with their businesses and restaurants.

For South Asians you have:

  • Curry Mile – Birmingham
  • Brick Lane – London
  • Golden Mile – Leicester

For China Towns they are in the following Towns and Cities:

  • Birmingham
  • London
  • Leeds
  • Leicester
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Scotland
  • Sheffield
  • Wales

These ethnic food quarters have tourist visits as they have a uniqueness to their food and goods. In African and Caribbean areas there are no food businesses which are open to tourism and the restaurants which are open, are usually all the things which are said to be part of a bad customer experience.

Based on the needs of black people in the UK and worldwide a food quarter should be created for various reasons. The main ones are for money to stay with in the community and for investement from outside. You can see this with the China Towns and the Asian area.

Asians (South and South Eastern) will shop within the food quarters for their own foods, goods and other items, but also you will see other races coming into the areas to eat food in the restaurants. If black people do create a food quarter we would need to make our food more neutral and appealing to the greater masses like the Asians do. This will be more economically prosperous for the black based food quarter.

The prices of the food would need to be more affordable, if black food businesses were to say organically create a food quarter in a particular area, the vision would need to be shared in regards to the direction which is taken, this would then make sure that there is a high standard of food and service delivery, something which is not necessarily in place at the moment, but can be worked on outside of the public sphere.

The service and food standards would be guaranteed by the level of training the businesses incorporate. Another would be the suppliers as there would be a need to buy from suppliers who supplied foods which the businesses could sell, which is safe and of a high standard. 

There are some good quality, product and customer service being provided by, black food businesses, but they are either not owned by black people or in places where the price is not affordable. This is fine for these places but then there is a lack of employment of our own people a food quarter would ensure we can create our own businesses but also employ our own people at the same time, with a stamp that we do live in the UK or which ever country we are in around the world (outside of Africa).

Further information

Balti Triangle (Birmingham)

Curry Mile (Birmingham)

Golden Mile (Leicester)

Food Quarter (Bath)

China Towns (Europe)

Birmingham Caribbean Festival

 

Awareness Of History

I have been working on a regeneration proposal for 2 years and thought I would release some of it in segments for those interested in having a look.

I have chosen History as a segment

Awareness of History

More education of African history and more focus on promoting African and Caribbean
history to young people, and adults. The awareness of history can be taught from the
home, and in community groups. For example there are after school clubs run by black
people these are good avenues to teach this to black children.

The home is the first place children should be made aware of their history, parents who
are not educated, should be educated on their history and how this has affected them,
even if it is West Indian history from the Windrush or about the respective countries they
came from. This will provide an avenue for black people to work from and then this can
then be provided to children.

There are some organisations which provide lectures and talks on seminars, there may
be the opportunity for a resource to be put up in place for teaching parents and adults to
teach young people their history with free and paid for tool kits to facilitate this teaching.
The importance of learning African Centred history is for a greater sense of self, as part of
social regeneration, where people are then able to make informed decisions on
economically being able to provide for themselves and their community, through
employment of black people in their businesses and investing locally as well as physical
regeneration in regards to pride in their area cleaning their path and keeping their
gardens tidy, which may have a knock on effect with their neighbours.

The process of undertaking this:

  • Educating Adults, who would like to educate their children on this history.
  • Educating young people in black youth clubs and organisations around the local
    area.
  • Educating young people in Saturday schools, after school cubs and home-
    schooling.
  • A national, regional or another organisation providing online and paper tool kits
    (paid for the paper tool kits) for other groups or parents to educate their children on learning about black history.
  • More presentations based on Ancient Kemet (Egypt), Timbuktu, African Presence.

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Local Community Sponsorship and Business Growth

Recently, I have been working with a black local community organisation and they are sponsored by a black themed business which is not owned by black people.

Initially I thought this was a bad idea but it made me realise that there are very few businesses in the UK, which have established themselves to a point where they can provide a great amount of funding to such a prevalent cause which affects black people in the UK.

It is a case of black people in the UK looking at themselves especially those who have run or are running businesses. I myself will look to be accountable to this also. If we build a business we should be able to generate income over a number of years to be able to expand into a chain which this business is and make it applicable to different audiences.

Even in the case of black companies making a great amount, very few will likely put their tax breaks or donate some finances to causes such as this one as they are worried of being too black or too affiliated with a cause that affects their own people. Some black businesses may not be interested in funding a community cause unless it is a international or universal cause.

In the UK black people have been here anything between 70 and 40 years and we should be looking at having chains of shops and services, rather than having small businesses which cannot support community needs.

If we are to develop stronger businesses amongst our smaller communities in the UK, we can look at different creating networks of businesses and liaise with community groups and organisations on how they can work together in a partnership where both parties get something out of the agreement.

This will mean organisations like the one I am currently working with will be self-sufficient and will be able to remain exclusively black rather than relying totally on public funding and can do what they set out to do with businesses having a similar ideology supporting and providing resources to make this happen.

Social Economics

You may have heard much talk about creating your own economy. In Africa, even today, we have an economy based on the exchange of goods in rural and some town areas. Rather than the exchange of goods for money.

The most popular version of this is the exchange of a wife for a douri, i.e. where a man would give 10 or more cows or livestock in exchange for a mans daughter. This is designed to show respect and demonstrate your intentions for their daughter.

After being in South Africa, I learnt this was for the man to show the father of the bride to see how the man has nurtured and maintained the live stock as these qualities are required to take care of his daughter.

In regards to markets and trading traditionally, we (as Africans) have not always used coins in exchange for goods. It has been items in exchange for items and if we do not have a item which is the exact price of the item then we negotiate i.e barter to get a price which both parties will settle for.

There has been talk of black people, especially in America taking up this type of economy for items as some whites are beginning to do this. Looking from a UK example there has been attempts to do this but there is a downside.

This being mainly middle class and affluent people who have the security of money to do this can do it, whilst bills and utilities cannot be p0aid for with batering or through a social economy – reciprication.

There is also the possibility of developing a underground market where people can be exploited so someone will exchange labour or favours for goods and there will be no definate time or point where this will be repaid.

Despite these reservations a social economy could work but it would be more beneficial in Africa where we belong rather than in the west as, we do not have the infrastructure to fully take advantage of such a economy in the US or where ever black people are outside of Africa.

(Image Source:

https://jaunehibiscus.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/african-print-and-pagne-cheap-or-cheap/)