October marks Black History Month in the UK, a celebration of the achievements and contributions of black people around the world. Inaugurated by Ghanaian-born activist Akyaaba Addai-Sebo in 1987, it is also a time to remember and learn about the significant racial persecutions the black community has faced in the past.
A series of themed events, performances, music workshops, food festivals and educational talks are taking place across the UK this month to commemorate black history. These activities reflect upon how black people have influenced the social, political, economic and cultural climate of the UK over many generations and encourage local communites to challenge existing racial inequality.
There is still racial inequality in the UK. Figures published by the government in September 2018 revealed that the unemployment rate among black people in the UK is over double that of white British adults (9 per cent vs 4 per cent). A report, co-produced by People’s Health Trust, titled ‘Low Pay in the Charity Sector’ also highlighted that black people are particularly affected by low pay. In the report, 30% survey respondents from black communities in the UK reported that they earn below the Living Wage.
Such racial disparities are directly linked to health inequalities, as people who are unemployed or experiencing low pay are more likely to have physical and mental health issues, as well as decreased self-esteem. Shocking recent figures released by the government in June this year highlight that Black Caribbean people are nearly four times more likely to be hospitalised for mental health issues than white British people.
At People’s Health Trust, projects we fund enable residents to come together and address inequalities by taking action on issues that are important to them. Chesterfield African Caribbean Health and Wellbeing Project, run by African Caribbean Association in Chesterfield (ACCA) brings older people from the African Caribbean community in the area together to socialise and engage in activities chosen by the group.
Ludwig Ramsey, Chairman of the ACCA, explained: “Last year, members of the ACCA visited 17 local schools in the area to speak to pupils about the importance of Black History Month. People in our community who came to the UK from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1971 on a British ship, the Empire Windrush, also spoke about their experiences and the issues they faced on arrival. We received great feedback from pupils and staff.”
“Members also decided to celebrate 30 years of Black History Month in the UK by organising an event for the local community involving guest speakers, food and music. The turnout was incredible with over 120 people from different backgrounds coming together. We hope to repeat this event in years to come.”
Project member, Brian Kelly said: “It was fascinating to learn more about the experiences of my black Caribbean family who came over in the 50’s, and how they have contributed to local neighbourhood in Chesterfield. I also enjoyed connecting with members of the community who I would not talk to usually.”
As part of Black History Month every year, some projects funded by the Trust encourage people from black communities to share their experiences, promoting integration and a sense of identity in the local community. Carlisle Culture Celebration, run by M-UNIT, supports members of the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community in Carlisle to plan and deliver a range of events to celebrate the City’s cultural diversity.
Project lead, Niall Mcnulty, said: “Carlisle has a relatively small and scattered BAME community with few opportunities to come together and undertake collective activities with the wider community. This project forms part of a long-term awareness raising programme and aims to increase understanding and social cohesion between people from different ethnic backgrounds.”
“This year, for Black History Month, photos taken by our members will be displayed in two locations in the local community. At Tullie House, a local museum, images of seven project members will be displayed alongside a personal artefact, highlighting their cultural heritage. Additionally, a display at the University of Cumbria will build upon previous work showcasing local BAME role models in Carlisle.”
To find out more about Black History Month in the UK and events taking place near you, click here.
Are you planning to celebrate Black History Month this year? If so, we would love to hear from you. To send us your pictures and stories, click here.
To read more news from the Trust, click here.
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