October marks Black History Month in the UK, a time to celebrate and reflect on the achievements and contributions of the Black community. This year the spotlight’s on amplifying the voices and achievements of Black women.
We’re taking it to the grassroots and looking at the vital work of non-profits led by Black women! Learn about 4 women leading organisations that support and empower people who are unemployed in Birmingham, empower women, young people, migrants and refugees, and people who are unemployed. These women’ stories showcase the power of local non-profits and the Black women leading them.
Harriet Boamah, a former youth worker, has been leading F.U.S.E. Youth Project in Barnet since its inception in 2019. Harriet grew up on a housing estate in the local area and is now giving back to the community that supported her and her family when she was younger.
F.U.S.E. Youth Project is a community program engaging young people in activities that promote wellbeing and teaching life skills such as cooking, arts and crafts, and more!
Under Harriet’s leadership, FUSE has been three times nominated and received the Voluntary Group of the Year Award from The Barnet Group!
I have always been passionate about working on housing estates and believe that youth clubs are special places for children and young people to make new friends, speak with trusted adults, and feel a part of their community
Harriet won runner-up in the Barnet Inspiration All Young Women’s Award category and was featured in the BBC’s Panorama during the pandemic. She was also a speaker for Future of London at their conference on people, place, and community.
Her dedication to making the world a better place for young people has drawn attention from other organisations. In addition to FUSE, she is now also a trustee and a board director for two other youth organisations!
Donate to FUSE or support them through ActionFunder!
After a career as a corporate IT trainer and a journalist for the BBC, Patricia switched careers to work in community outreach starting with the opening of Birmingham’s first Trussell Trust food bank!
Patricia has been leading Suited for Success from its debut as a pilot project in 2015.
Suited for Success is on a mission to tackle unemployment in Birmingham by providing free interview coaching, clothing and preparation. Their work has a focus on people experiencing significant barriers to gaining employment, including the homeless, ex-forces, back to work mums, ex-offenders, young people, 16–29 years olds, and BAME communities.
Her passion for community outreach has led her to be a powerful voice for social justice. Alongside Suited for Success, she is using her knowledge to support other organisations to set-up job clubs and employability projects in their local communities.
Patricia recently received the ‘Points of Light’ reward and recognition.
Siobhan Harper-Nunes is working to uplift her community and our planet through grassroots organising. In 2006, she founded Shakti Women in the Community, after spotting “the lack of women in the typical business networks and especially women of colour”.
Shakti Women in the Community is “an organisation dedicated to continuous personal and professional development of women and girls”. The organisation provides business and professional support along with activities such as meditation, creative writing, dance and drama. Their Girls Club is growing the next generation of leaders.
The success of Shakti Women? Sorority.
The reason Shakti works is because it’s not all about me, it’s the sorority of women on the board, who volunteer or who lead our CPD training. We’re a team.
Through her diverse community roles, Siobhan is on a mission to create positive change by investing her time and energy in women’s empowerment, racial justice, and environmental sustainability. Siobhan also serves as Green Party membership officer.
Born in Zimbabwe, Councillor Faith Gakanje-Ajala worked worked as a community development officer and an activist in Zimbabwe. She founded the African Women’s Empowerment Forum in the UK after migrating from Zimbabwe as a political refugee in 2002.
African Women Empower Forum UK (AWEF) is on a mission to further the wellbeing, voices and influence of African Women migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. The charity advocates for women (on issues such as gender equality and discrimination) to influence policy change, and empowers women to use their voices to speak out.
Through her work with AWEF and as a Labour councillor, Faith champions migrant women and families. She led national campaigns against migrant family separations and women in detention. Her work uplifting migrant women has won her several awards in recent years.
Faith’s journey from refugee to award-winning community leader is one to watch!
Making change happen
These women are the driving forces behind impactful community programs uplifting youth, people who are unemployed, women, and migrants. Their tireless dedication exemplifies the kind of positive change that can be achieved through local activism led by passionate individuals. More funding and support needs to go towards Black-led, community-focused organisations like these.
The future will be shaped by those daring to make a difference today – people like Harriet, Siobhan, Patricia and Faith.