The Reach Society aims to transform the lives of young black men
A Kingston social enterprise that aims to transform the lives of young black men by providing them with positive role models has reached hundreds more people this year as it put a cash donation from a leading bank to good use.
Reach Society, which is based on Kingston High Street, won £5,000 from the Lloyds Banking Group Community Fund last October after people nationwide were asked to vote for their favourite charity.
The money was used to help fund a careers conference with job help and workshops, and the publication of the book Our Story, By Us, For Us, exploring the history of the British Afro-Caribbean community.
“With the help of the grant, we were able to up the game that much more and was able to deliver an extraordinary careers conference at the Charing Cross Hotel,” said Dwain Neil, co-founder and a management consultant.
“The previous year we had around 365 younger people and their parents, but in April we were able to invite a larger number of professional men to talk and inspire in front of around 750 – a 100 per cent increase on the year before.
“We also wrote our first book, which explains the story of British people of African Caribbean origin. We believe this is important because, whereas most people may say disadvantaged young black men are suffering from low self esteem, we experience that is not the case.
“None of our young people have a lick of knowledge about their background – because of this they feel a sense of disempowerment in what is low cultural esteem. If you want to encourage, motivate and inspire young people, knowing their story is an important step to develop that sense of self.”
More than 200,000 people across the UK took part in a public vote online between May and September last year to select the charities they wanted to receive the cash, part of £660,000 Lloyds Banking Group invested through the Community Fund in 2012.
And with voting for this year’s competition almost closing, Dwain is urging other local charities to get involved and sign up.
“The grant has given us a chance to expand further and we already have plans in place for a bigger careers conference next year – we have booked Westminster Parliamentary Hall for next April and hope to reach 1,000 young people,” he added.
“We have not been shortlisted this time around but this does not take away from the fact that it has helped us do more of what we wanted to do.
“There are plenty of worthwhile activities and initiatives out there that the grant can help, which will hopefully do a lot of good for younger people.”
Lloyds Bank is supporting over 1,500 community groups through the 2013 Community Fund. Find out more and cast your vote for a good cause in your community at www.lloydsbank.co.uk/communityfund
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