One thing that I have found in my experience is that we are blessed with many champions in our community, honourable men and women that have decided to take responsibility for their local communities, friends and families by giving of their time, energy, resources and love.
These champions give to provide support where the government and others have withdrawn theirs. Although in numbers they are only a small percentage of our black community and whilst some are more effective than others we have to give them all respect because they are giving of themselves, when most in our community are waiting for someone else to do something.
The challenge that we face is: how can we assist and support our champions to be more effective to reach out to more people and to achieve better results in our community? There are several ways that we can support our champions – with time, energy, resources and let’s not forget financially. Although it is not always easy to identify who and where those champions are.
In every neighbourhood we have individuals that are doing good work and therefore I would like to challenge every single person reading this column to think about what you can do to get involved. In order to achieve this I am proposing the creation of a website that will be used in the following ways:
1. To create a database of all the organisations particularly grass roots/ community based organisations. That requires identifying who they are, where they are based and to whom they offer support.
2. To create a database of individuals that wish to support community groups and organisations. Interested parties will be able to post what they have to offer (be it time, resources or skills) and members of the organisations will be able to e-mail them to arrange.
I am appealing to any black owned business or individual who would like to contribute to creating this website in any way. I will be aiming to launch by early 2013 and see this as a basic requirement in our journey as members of the Black Family within the UK. Initially we will focus on London however we will aim to roll this database across the UK and beyond. If you are doubtful about putting yourself forward at this stage a simple e-mail showing your support will still be appreciated as it will encourage us and let us know that we are moving in the right direction.
I would also like to put out my vision for how we should be operating as a black community in the future and I would appreciate some feedback on this one too. I would like to create a mechanism suitable for raising funds to be used within our community for the benefit of everyone within our community.
The principle way in which I would do this is to establish a foundation with a mission statement of raising funds to support the positive development of all members of the black family. The key way in which the funds would be raised is via black business, who would sign up as a supporter of the foundation and would contribute up to 1% of their turnover with a minimum monthly subscription. This money would be collected and then used to create community infrastructure in addition to funding and supporting community groups and organisations.
Every contributing business would be recognised by publishing their details on the foundation site for all to see. It would include a unique ID that they would use on their publicity, letterheads, websites as well as displaying it at their premises for all to see alongside an instantly recognisable logo. That way it would be clear for everyone to identify which black businesses are supporting the community and which ARE NOT. Then it would be down to the community to challenge those businesses not supporting them and down to the owner of the business to explain his or her decision not to.
Ultimately we would not chose to force business that had no desire to support the community to do so, however I would like to promote and encourage the community to support the businesses that did. It would also be up to the community to check the unique number that any business displayed to ensure that business owners didn’t simply create their own unique number without contributing financially which would clearly be established by the absence of their details on our site.
Within London alone 5000 black businesses contributing £50 per month could raise £250,000.00 per month, how long would it take for us to open our own community centres, training schemes for our youths and business centres to support business start ups. The possibilities are endless and this is truly a big idea however without us doing something for us – our standing as a black community will never rise. We also must be able to look our children and grandchildren in the eye and say that “We did lay a foundation for them”. Clearly this is but an idea but I do think that it could easily become a reality if YOU want it to be. I intend to make it happen but need you to step up and show that you want it too.
We are family now we need to start behaving as one!
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