WE DON’T celebrate black men enough. In this issue we will lift up our brothas, and highlight where they are making a real difference in their communities.
On pages this and the next page we celebrate some of the many community heroes who are doing tireless work and advocacy.
On page 6 we look at the black men who stepped up and adopted children. On page 8 we profile the amazing work of Dope Black Dads and interview Mr Numbervator. And page 10 is about ‘what my father taught me.’
Black men, we are proud of you!
Kwajo Tweneboa, Social Housing Campaigner
CAMPAIGNER: Kwajo Tweneboa
Kwajo Tweneboa, 23, is a full time business studies student and a social housing activist, from Mitcham, south London.
He began documenting the condition of his late father’s home on the Eastfields Estate in Mitcham, and went on to also video the appalling conditions of several neighbours on his estate.
Mr Tweneboa has been highlighting the squalid housing conditions of tenants living in social housing on social media. His campaigning work often leads to tenants getting rehoused in suitable accommodation or getting their long standing repairs completed.
His shocking videos show families living in homes across Britain with mice infestations, broken ceilings, damp, mould and broken toilets. Many of his viral videos have featured families from the black community.
Speaking to The Voice, Mr Tweneboa said: “I travel the country exposing horrific and inhumane conditions tenants have been forced to live in by social landlords, in the hope that change will ultimately be brought about by the government.
‘I’m just providing a voice for social housing tenants across the country.”
Mr Tweneboa believes social housing injustice is hitting black families the hardest and they are contacting him as a last resort, after being ignored and failed by their housing associations and local councils.
His work has rightfully propelled him into the public eye, where he has recently met Housing Secretary Michael Gove to discuss how social housing can be improved.
Also, Dragon’s Den star Steven Bartlett, has also recently backed Mr Tweneboa’s initiative and donated £10,000 to fund his work.
Mr Tweneboa vows to continue to expose the inhumane housing conditions people are living in, until every family living in social housing has a safe and a clean place to call home.
Danny Hibbert, Founder of Switch Sports
TOGETHER: Danny Hibbert
Danny Hibbert is a leading sports and football coach based in White City, west London, who created a new sport called Switch after being inspired by the London 2012 Olympics.
Mr Hibbert told The Voice he was inspired to create Switch Sports after waking up from a dream and writing out all of the rules to the game within 20 minutes.
He said: “I wanted to create a sport that everyone could play together, as our sport can be played by mixed gender teams, all ages and abilities.”
Switch Sports is a combination of five Olympic sports including, football, basketball, volleyball, netball and handball.
Mr Hibbert runs the free local weekly sports group and also provides a free holiday club initiative, which he says is “brining families of different backgrounds and ages together.”
The innovative new sport is proving extremely popular and has been registered as an official sport by Top End Sports.
But for Mr Hibbert, what is at the heart of his community interest company is providing a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for locals in his community to enjoy sport.
He said: “We unite communities in a unique way, using Switch as the vehicle. We are able to make a difference in our people’s lives in different ways by providing a caring environment where participants look out for each other on and off the pitch.”
Daniel Morris, Director of Programmes Listen Up
FOCUSED: Daniel Morris
Daniel Morris has an extensive background in youth and community work and is an established senior leader in the charity sector with over 15 years’ experience of delivering services to children and young people.
Historically, he has worked at some of London’s largest charities and established a renowned Pan-London Harmful Sexual Behaviour programme, which included a service for young men, focusing on inappropriate attitudes towards sex and relationships
Mr Morris, who is from Peckham, south east London, told The Voice, his work in the sector has taken him from a grassroots level to a senior position, but his aim “to make a difference” remains the same.
He said: “My origins for stepping into youth work was to help young people believe in their power, broaden their horizons and realise their potential and that will always be my drive.”
His current role as director of programmes at Listen Up – an organisation that aims to amplify the voices and experiences of minoritised and marginalised children and young people until all children are seen, heard and protected – Mr Morris continues to do the imperative work which will have a long-lasting impact on the lives of so many vulnerable young people in black and ethnic minority communities.
He said: “My drive is to make a difference and to use my privilege being in a position of power and a senior leader in the sector, to ensure I use my voice around those tables that some of my peers may not get access to.
“But to also, ensure at a strategic level there is representation of black men and black people in general, especially in the workplace and to knock down some of those barriers and open those doors, but when I get through those doors to ensure that the terrain is fair for all and all of us get equal opportunities.”
Mr Morris has also supported service design for a national charity across several themes and been a school governor for six years to “diversify” and “counteract” some of the biases in education.
Outside of his day job, Mr Morris is extremely passionate about giving back to his local community and is the chair of a community group called Friends of Leyton Square, which wants to re-open a popular youth club that was closed due to austerity cuts in the borough of Southwark.
He said: “We set up the community group and we are in conversation to take the youth club over and it’s been four years in the making and we are in the process of rebuilding the youth centre.”
Sayce Holmes-Lewis, CEO and Founder of Mentivity
AWARDS: Sayce Holmes-Lewis
Sayce Holmes-Lewis the CEO and founder of award-winning mentoring organisation Mentivity, which is supporting and inspiring the next generation to be the best version of themselves.
Mr Holmes-Lewis explained to The Voice, he started his organisation because it was something that he needed when he was young – while growing up on the once tough Aylesbury Estate in Walworth, south east London.
Inspired by his mother, his former football coach and his former executive headteacher, Mr Holmes-Lewis set up his organisation after experiencing two redundancies in 2013 and 2015.
He said: “I really just wanted to support people in my community and create a positive impact.
“We offer a club for children during half term and a holiday food programme, where we provide food for people that are really struggling because of food poverty.
“We offer sport activities and we do a lot of one to one mentoring in schools.”
Mr Holmes-Lewis exudes pride when speaking about growing up on the Aylesbury Estate and beams when he tells The Voice, he has recently opened a youth hub just a few feet away from where he grew up.
His local Mentivity Youth Hub provides a safe space for children and teenagers to meet, socialise and engage in activities and sports and Mr Holmes-Lewis plans to bring his vision to other areas in London.
He said: “We have two community hub spaces that are being developed right now and in the next six months we can have more young people coming through our doors.”
For Mr Holmes-Lewis the reason why he does the job he does, is because of the “love of my community and because I want my people to flourish and progress.”
“I understand the oppression that we are under and I face it myself and I’m still facing but I got a voice and I have always been a rebel and stood up for what is right and that will always be an integral part of who I am,” he added.
Mr Holmes-Lewis is also a trustee at Lambeth Tigers Football Club and is a notable and respected football coach of 23 years. During his career as a coach he has worked with some of the top Premier League football players.
As well as his work with young people, Mr Holmes-Lewis is also determined to redefine what it means to be a black man in the 21st century.
He said: “We need more outlets shining a light on the positivity in our community because there is a lot of it. But unfortunately bad press and negativity sells and sensationalism sells and I think we have to move away from that, and celebrate those in the community and normalise that.
“There are another twenty men that I know who are on the same path as me and are giving back, it is about spotlighting and redefining what a black man is.
“I think we don’t have a definition of what a black man truly is because we don’t control the narrative, but we have to control our own narrative now and express to people that we are great, we are nurturers, we are fathers, role models and father figures to other people.
“We must keep doing what we are doing because this will impact people not only today but for generations to come.”