BLESST TEAM TRANSITIONS INSIGHTS
Similar to Blesst’s philosophy, I believe that there is untapped potential in everybody; and when given the opportunity and the right guidance this potential can begin to flourish. The biggest evidence for this is my own transition from being a willing university student to a capable community organiser and youth representative. My journey started with conversations around ideas with Blesst with mentors Richard Campbell and Martin Glynn.
Although I couldn’t see it at that time, it was clear to them that I had something to offer and was capable of being a leader if I could believe so. This then started giving me the confidence to work on my engagement and creative skills. Doing Black studies and sociology at Birmingham City University was great for community engagement and understanding social structures. While still at University and learning more about Blesst in its early stages, I was given the perfect chance to do the Community organising and leadership course with civil society Citizens UK at Newman’s University. This gave me knowledge on understanding power relations, how to do 1-1 meetings and negotiation skills amongst other things. This opened up a new world for me and I took the skills that I learned and applied it wherever I went. This is when I would combine the knowledge of Black Studies and the leadership course in the workshops, we would start to do with Blesst, in places like Sussex University with the decolonisation movement, and the community centre in Sheffield with Lloyd. The group dynamics of Blesst helps everyone that we engage with feel at ease with our easy going/ fun nature and in the creative style that we deliver our workshops so there was a big impact left wherever we went. One of the most memorable moments for me at my 2 years at Blesst was mentoring/empowering children at the Blesst space for the 70 Inspired events, where children were given the opportunity to showcase their talents and talk about how it positively improved their wellbeing on stage.
I was given the important mission of guiding the young people to showcase their creative performances positively instead of following the crowd and inciting violence. This was the point that I realised the importance of leaving a legacy for the next generation and seeing every child as a leader as a form of empowerment. Using my experiences with Blesst and the other community organisations.
This led me to creating an organisation called The Progression Company that creates platforms for using creativity outlets and discussions to deal with mental illness in the context of race, gender and other social structures. This furthered my vision with my community organising and university studies as I realised that there needs to be a voice for young black men and mental health; doing my whole dissertation on how young black men can use creativity as a form of expression to deal with mental wellbeing within the context of racism, gender and other societal influences. Thus, leading to me proving this knowledge as a representing the youth on the topic of mental health across a number of organisations. As well as working on multiple projects, I am currently in transition to making the work that I do with Blesst a full-time commitment while taking paid opportunities to get paid to do what I want. My vision with Blesst is to continue to learn, inspire and create a better legacy for the generations to come on a national and even global level. Using creative learning to leave an impact of empowerment, creating better environments and providing young people the same opportunities that I was given.
The saying it takes a village to raise a children has never been more true.I feel the Blesst centre is fast becoming the one of the most important cornerstones we have in our community.By providing a safe space for people to share imagine ,create,learn communicate the Blesst has become imperative to my individual growth and healing on all areas of my journey.....and this is just the beginning! The most important lesson I've learnt so far is the level of discipline and sacrifice required to be the change you want to see in the world. I am very proud to be part of a team and ever growing network of people who are committed to manifesting their individual greatness as a positive collective. I am inspired by what Blesst has achieved so far and look forward to what Blesst can achieve in the future.
I have been a part of the Blesst family for over 3 years now. Reminiscing upon my journey at Blesst brings a range of experiences that has helped shape me into the woman I am today. I joined Blesst when I had just started my degree in Black Studies. As a young person I did not envision myself going to University as I didn't think someone like me belonged there. Fast forward to summer the of 2020, I graduated with a first-class degree. Over those 3 years there were moments I considered dropping out as I struggled to manage all that was going on. My mentors at Blesst encouraged and empowered me by believing in me, providing me with opportunities to grow and showing me support when I needed it. There are so many influential and impactful moments to reflect upon; taking part in community organising training with Citizen's U.K. stands out. Being introduced to the dynamics of power and how collectively we can organise to exercise our power to create change. This is an idea I have read about over and over again but to have this complex idea broken down simply changed a lot for me. This allowed me to go back to my own community and hold listening sessions to draw out key issues impacting communities. Teaching me how to hold 1-2-1 meetings with power holders in our city. Alongside how to organise a group of people who are all connected by a common interest or goal. Training with Citizen's U.K was highly impactful as I am all about creating tangible change not just lip service. This has allowed the work I do at the Blesst centre to reach more communities and to help more people.