Category Archives: Social inclusion

Charitable Workings

For the last couple of years, whilst, working in retail and getting a business or two off the ground. I have been using professional skills I have gained through digital inclusion and project management, I have been doing some work with a charity attempting to make it more efficient.

Much of the work I am doing has been creating a channel strategy, a bit like a social media strategy but looking at how you can provide services and information to service users using digital devices and/or the internet. I have also been developing the website, and looking at how the organisation can work more efficiently.

Something which strikes to mind for black charities, is efficiency and resources. Having volunteered at a few organisations, efficiency seems to be one of the things which is a lower priority as digitising some services or even making some tasks less time consuming can be a challenge.

For example, if you want volunteers, using sites like do it.org is a great place to start as you can get volunteers for many tasks who will work a couple of hours a week to lighten the burden in the organisation.

Having updated content on the website is also important, this can be cost efficient (not cheap but not expensive neither) using providers such as WordPress with templates etc.

The channel strategy, is used to look at how your organisations uses, email, text, social media and how it can deliver some services digitally can save time, if you have service users you can look at how many have a mobile phone number or email (ask for permission to send emails, mainly monthly updates) and send reminders via text. This can look at cutting out paper usage.

Funding is another, charity running is much like a business (its always been but with more access to funding in the past) now instead of looking at how to save money you also need to look at making money as less funding is available and if you are getting funding, sustaining that with looking at why you want the funding, and what difference you can make. Sponsorship is a start if you can build networks and relationships with local and regional (and sometimes national) businesses.

There are many different ways in which you can as a organisation run efficiently, whether it be person to person, or via a digital device its just important you are up to date with modern technology otherwise you may lose out on service users or funding.

Economy Of Knowledge

In the 1980’s and mid 1990’s (if your old enough to remember) there were people who were working in factories and mills. This was the case until the UK economy had moved towards a service economy (banking, customer service, technology based – IT and computer programming).

The aim of the government moving towards this economy was to maintain and create enough jobs for the current labour market, who were losing jobs as a result of moving away from a industrial towards a more knowledge based economy.

The movement should have been towards a entrepreneurial based economy and education system (in the UK). Since the education system was designed to prepare you for working in a bricks and mortar industry. The education system was slightly modified for the service economy as they thought they could up skill all the workers to work in the service jobs, as a result of getting a degree.

To get to this the national and local government looks at attracting investement and companies into regions, cities and towns as a way of providing more job opportunities. This is a good idea, which is why you see state of the art buildings being constructed around the place, as a place where businesses can set up or warehouse or industrial units built in the outskirts of towns and cities.

This in theory works but in practice the results are mixed since, many of the roles that these companies offer are menial as only low skilled tasks might be undertaken by that regional branch. Usually the research and development departments (the place where the more skilled vacancies are) are usually in the headquarters or home country.

The history of those born in the early 1970’s to late 1980’s being encouraged to join the knowledge economy was due to a skills shortage for high skilled jobs in the late 1980’s. In the late 2000’s there were more qualified people than jobs to match the skills.

This is evident today as black people who were adults in the late 80’s early 90’s with children did not prepare them for what was coming, instead of keeping hold of businesses we sold many of them of (with a few remaining) and told our children to join the knowledge economy in the late 90’s early 2000’s.

The economy is now changing from a knowledge based one to a entrepreneurial one, with the need to have more than one income. If the next generation and this one (18-40) do not have more than one income or at least access to one then we will not fare well as jobs are becoming less and less.

The government is attempting to get people skilled in technological areas such as computer science and sciences. It is great theses areas are looked at but as a people, we need to first and foremost look at developing business running skills, having an idea, developing it and then looking at many ways you can get income from this idea.

Further information

Knowledge is a myth (www.theguardian.com)

Knowledge Economy Myth (www.theweek.co.uk)

Black People and Coffee Shops

For nearly a decade now I have been going to coffee shops in my spare time, at first it was to write poetry and just detox on a Saturday afternoon after a hard week of working. Then it got to the point where I would go sometimes during the week after work, whether it was with acquaintances, project proposals or on my lonesome.

I noticed at this point in my early to mid 20’s that I was one of a few UK born Africans who was interested in going to coffee shops just to chill. I used to wonder why our people did not go to coffee shops in the 2000’s but it is for similar reasons why some still do not go now (though I notice more people in them these days). They would rather make the drink at home, though a coffee shop should not be seen as just a place where you go to drink a coffee rather a place to socialise, develop ideas, relationships or just disappear.

I find 8 years later that there are more people going to coffee shops who are African/black as more people are realising what you can do in a coffee shop and what you can discuss, without pressure of the environment or time constraints to finish your drink.

The Europeans use coffee shops to socialise and chill with each other, its only the British who think going to the coffee shop is a upwardly mobile thing to do or have it as a treat. I have noticed that coffee shops are beginning to open later and so more people who are from backgrounds which do not drink or drink little alcohol are meeting friends and family in these places.

Black people could begin to be more sociable by meeting in these places, rather than thinking there are few places to go maybe just enjoying each others company in a place where you can have a warm drink or cool drink (in summer) might be a good place to get your personal and professional goals off the ground.

To finish, I often go to a couple of well known coffee shops as I am allergic to milk so I get the milk free options. I sometimes go to independent ones, though my favourite coffee shop which had a great atmosphere decided to expand and lost the atmosphere, that is not to say all coffee shops are like that. Though some coffee shops are family friendly with child seats, as others are work friendly with chairs and tables whilst one thing which is guaranteed in all is free WiFi.

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

 

Regeneration not gentrification

There has been a lot of talk, road shows on and documentaries on gentrification within black areas, the story does need to be told. Having studied regeneration and worked in a aspect of this (digital inclusion). I know that there is a fine balance between regeneration and gentrification.

The aim of most local authorities, regional, local councils and municipalities in areas, which are deprived, is to attract investment into the area. This could be from national and multinational companies. To do this a local authority will build office buildings and warehouses which these companies can move into, once they commit to moving their operations into the local area.

There is also an ambition to develop housing and social activities of the residents in that area. This can be through having new housing being built which his largely funded by a supermarket.

Regeneration can benefit all if it is designed and local residents get to access opportunities the same as everyone else. This means you will need information about financial and social capital (something I have talked about before). The problems come when you are not able to get the information or resources to set up businesses or get new housing.

Gentrification occurs when big businesses come to a town or city, which has bid for them to come and set up shop, with the local councils promise of giving tax breaks and skilled workers. If you are not a skilled worker then you might not get a decent paying role and usually big companies bring staff with them so many positions are filled.

If you want to get housing, often you begin to be priced out by the people who have the decent jobs with the new companies who have moved in and are living locally with new shops appearing which are out of your budget.

Regeneration is a fine line, I often explain to people that regeneration is getting investment and developing poor areas to make them more prosperous, though the people who live their now need to prosper with the prosperity, not be or feel left behind.

To get away from the gentrification theme and build on a regeneration theme more people need information and access to regeneration resources and information. If you are interest (if you live in the UK) you can look on the upliftment information community resources page. We have also listed some links below to help you find out more about regeneration and how you can help develop your local area.

Further Information

Upliftment Information Community Resources

Direct Black Investment

Tesco Building 4,000 Homes

Supermarkets building Homes Above Stores

Regeneration – Wembley Regeneration Project

 

Extract: Black Regeneration Strategy

Over a long period of time I have been reviewing how I could use knowledge and information on regeneration to improve the lives of black people (primarily in the UK). There is much media and articles written on gentrification in black neighbourhoods in the US and the UK but there is not a clear definition of regeneration. 

Below I have added an extract of the strategy, the objectives (section):

Objectives

Businesses – Operations improve access

Businesses are often struggling in this economy, with more businesses requiring advertising and growth advise through the provision of training and education. This may be through vocational qualifications or online vocational programmes, which enable these businesses to provide better service and achieve greater customer satisfaction, as well as creating a community bond which has always existed with an absence of professionalism.

Innovation of business growth

There is currently a lack of black businesses which sells technological and practical products and services. Black people invest a lot of time in purchasing and using these products. The question is why do black people got to say south Asians to fix their products, when black people should be able to set up a business after undertaking training in practical (plumbing and electronics) fields and provide services and sell electronic goods which we buy in bulk and spend it in our local areas. The ambitions as a race are connected to what is sold in the media and not enough on how businesses and community organisations can support community activities.

How this can be achieved in the black communities:

  • The creation of a community centre or working space

  • A working group of engineers and scientists is required

  • A strategy to encourage black technology and science professionals to set up or support scientific industries.

  • Create a local community project on encouraging school age children to take up more scientific and technological sector apprenticeships and training.

  • More cycling and maintenance should be encouraged for black people to take up, as a way of keeping fit.

  • More technological technician roles should be encouraged.

The aim is to make black people more self sufficient in providing and developing our own products and services, rather than going to the provider or to a shop where another race is able to sell our goods and items, which we can do our selves.

This will create jobs and more income into the community, which will give black people more economic, social and political power in our communities in the UK. The other important aspect of this is to ensure there is a support mechanism so black people can buy in bulk but also have a forum where information and advice is available from people who look like you.

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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