United Kingdom: 5 BAME-Led Projects Collaborating with The Ubele Initiative

Dan Biss

The Ubele Initiative has teamed up with Mali Enterprising Leaders to coordinate a massive collaboration with five Black and Minority Ethnic projects across London and Manchester. The Ubele Initiative’s mission in working with these five projects is to help them hone the monetary funding and people-power to build lasting roots within their communities so that they can exist regardless of the UK’s political system or financial situation at large. All of these projects focus on comprehensive community-strengthening through the empowerment of artists, education of children, youth and sports clubs, and health and social services for immigrants and the elderly.

The first of these groups is 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning (formerly known as Roots Community) in Brixton. As a visual arts space, 198 CAL initially focused on promoting British artists of Caribbean, African and Asian descent, but has expanded their scope to artists born outside of the UK as well. The exhibits in 198 CAL illustrate not only the creative contributions made by Artists of Color, but the importance of their social and political expression as well. As one of the only galleries in London to explicitly aim to amplify Artists of Color, their international scope is one to follow, and ensuring the gallery remains a secured tile in the mosaic of London is crucial.

The Carnaval del Pueblo Association which focuses on curating the annual Latin American festival in the East Street Market area that is famous in both London and beyond. For 18 years, the association has been organizing this diverse carnival that incorporates the cultures and traditions of 19 Latin American nations. International stars such as Willie Colon, a Puerto Rican musician based in New York; Colombian salsa group Grupo Niche; and Venezuelan artist Oscar d’Leon have all performed at this event over the years.

Across London, the Lewisham Sports Consortium has been a registered charity since 2005, although initially founded in 1998, and their objective is to create opportunities for the BAME community in Lewisham, by providing facilities for sport and recreation. The consortium is working to advance public education, especially amongst children and young people through the provision of education and training programs. These initiatives aim to foster the development of strong mental, social, moral, and intellectual health throughout the BAME community in Lewisham, in particularly, but with the intention that greater London will be impacted as well.

Over in Manchester is the Manchester Congolese Organisation (MaCO) – a volunteer-based initiative that provides assistance to the Congolese diaspora and wider BAME community. MaCO offers a range of services, from health advice to translation and interpretation services. These services are vital for people who have come to the UK and must navigate British social systems like immigration, education, and health care. MaCO also has programs for education and language acquisition so that community members can strengthen their English to better connect with the wider community, improve their employability, and achieve their full potential in England.

Making Education a Priority (MEaP) is an education consortium also located in Manchester. Currently responsible for 4 supplementary schools (GIFT Acadamy and Highway Hope Supplementary Schools), the consortium caters to children ranging from ages 5 to 16 and covers all key stages of both primary and secondary British education. MEaP has also worked in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, and together they led their first symposium in April 2016 where they were able to discuss their hopes, goals, and methods in creating a more strongly educated community.

These projects illustrate the importance of BAME-led community building throughout the United Kingdom. To learn more or support these initiatives, visit the Ubele Initiative. 

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