Lambeth partnership organisation Black Thrive has pledged £300,000 to address the inequalities faced by the borough’s black community.
Black Thrive, a partnership between communities, statutory organisations, and the voluntary and private sector, set up ‘The Employment Project’ in March 2020, after studies revealed that black people are disproportionately affected by socio-economic inequality in Lambeth.
Research showed that black people living in Lambeth are more likely to be unemployed, more likely to be in poor quality work, and are also more likely to have long-term health conditions – particularly as it pertains to mental health.
In collaboration with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, ‘The Employment Project’ seeks to break this cycle by supporting unemployed people into work, improving conditions for those already in work, and reducing the inequalities faced by black people accessing mental health services.
Employment Project Support Officer Yasmin Ibison, 24, said: “It’s been so inspiring to see the work being done in the community as a result of the grant.
“For a lot of the grantees, it’s the first time they’ve ever been funded so I know it’s been a boost to their morale and self-esteem and has given them a chance to work on things they’ve been sitting on for a while.
“It also helps bring in ideas that the system often excludes – these people wouldn’t necessarily normally apply for funding or have access to it, so those are the people we wanted to prioritise.”
The grant money was distributed in December by ‘The Employment Project’s’ Community Working Group, which is comprised primarily of black people from Lambeth who suffer from long-term health conditions themselves.
This means the funds were allocated by members of the community with a lived experience of the conditions which they are trying to improve.
Ibison explained: “I think this is what is so interesting and radical about this grant.
“I guess, traditional funders are usually white, middle class, and often quite far removed from the issues they are trying to better.
“We hope this way – by prioritising lived experiences – the people working with our grantees have the relevant insight and knowledge to really make a difference and truly understand the issues they are trying to change.”
Andrea Wright, one of the grantees, said: “I’m tremendously grateful for this opportunity – the support from the Black Thrive team has been exceptional, and this grant has supported my vision of positively impacting my local community.”
She has used the grant money to develop her organisation Black Swan, a virtual ‘Wellness to Work’ initiative that challenges employment barriers for black people.
This funding is particularly pertinent now, after a report commissioned by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, revealed that black people are 1.9 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people.
Wright continued: “The pandemic has deepened the health inequalities which were already widening in the UK.
“Opportunities to address income and employment needs are vital to improve the livelihood, status, and health outcomes of the black community.
“If one does not thrive, then no one is thriving.”
She was not the only grantee to emphasise the importance of the fund.
Vicki Quadri, who has put the money towards Ms Unique’s Sew Along Project, said: “With the current COVID situation, lots of individuals are working from home and mental illness cases have risen dramatically.
“I hope that my sewing project will be a great therapeutic pass-time helping those with mental illness, loneliness, depression or any other long-term health conditions to find purpose.
“My aim is to inspire people to become the best version of themselves and to evolve to become the boss of their future.”
Elizabeth Takyi, founder of Aspire 2 Inspire Dyslexia CIC, added: “This grant is so important as there are not many organisations that support black people with long-term conditions.
“My programme hopes to help people understand cultural barriers and overcome the stigma of dyslexia, while also helping black people in Lambeth with dyslexia to unlock their full potential.”
To read about the other grantees who have been supported by ‘The Employment Project,’ visit this page.
You can also find out more information about Black Thrive Lambeth here.
Featured Image: Andrea Wright, founder of Black Swan