This month we awarded £800,000 to 20 groups across the UK as part of our Lived Experience Leaders programme. One of the projects that we funded was to Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel (SSAP), who are using £50,000 of National Lottery money to deliver a programme to support BAME people in Wales into leadership positions. We spoke to Fadhili Maghiya, Director at SSAP about the project to find out more about its background and the impacts that it will have.
“My name is Fadhili Maghiya, I’m the Director of South-Sahara Advisory Panel. I can pinpoint two areas that got us to where we are right now. The first one, one of the leaders for this project met with me about three years ago and we got to talking about young, BAME people in Wales and what support they were getting in terms of their progression and terms of developing themselves as people as well as activists through statutory bodies, charities and so on. What we realised was that there was a huge gap in provision and there wasn’t anything tailored for BAME communities in terms of their personal development. If you look at the leadership training that’s provided it’s more aimed towards mainstream organisations and people from BAME communities aren’t taking part in that training.
“We thought “our group has vast experience between us, wouldn’t it be good to develop something that is tailored to develop activists within the BAME community as a whole?”. One of the leaders is with the Welsh Government and has done a lot of leadership development locally and internationally and another two of my colleagues have worked across different backgrounds with young people too.
“The second strand, that’s come about as we’ve been working on a project over the last three years called TuWezeshe Akina Dada which is funded by Comic Relief, and the purpose of that project is working with young women from the African community who are passionate and active about gender issues. The aim of that particular project was to amplify the voices of young women and to create leaders. As we were running that project, we ran a series of events over the three years and at one of them we had more established women in the community brought in to speak to the young women taking part in the programme to speak to them about their journeys, issues that they face and so on. Those conversations were crucial at that phase of the project as there hadn’t been any instances where older, more established members of the community were having those open conversations with young members of the community, and it felt like a good opportunity for those people to pass on their experiences onto young people.
“Combining those two projects has got us to where we are now in applying for this funding and looking at how we can use trainers and leaders from the BAME community, and how we can also have other people in positions of leadership in the third sector coaching young people to reach their potential.
“The key difference that we want to see in the people taking part in this project come out of it feeling confident and empowered, and able to express themselves in different working environments. What we see at the moment is that young BAME people might be working in mainstream organisations and they may not feel comfortable or don’t have the confidence to express themselves and their opinions. What we’re going to do is to equip them with tools and skills to be able to express themselves and be productive in those environments, and also communicate that with their managers and senior managers that that’s the case.
“The other part of the project is to provide an opportunity for people to explore different issues that affect their ability to develop as leaders, whether that’s in their community or for the organisations that they work for. For example, if a person is in a situation where they’ve been racially discriminated against or abused then they will be equipped with tools to be able to react and deal with that properly.
“At the moment we’re getting the ball rolling with this pilot; trying and testing different methods to communicate this to see what works and doesn’t work, and to see whether there are future opportunities to do a much longer programme. For now, we’re focusing on empowering young people to feel more empowered and comfortable in their communities and the places that they work in. What we’ve found is that a lot of BAME people don’t feel comfortable in putting themselves forward for training opportunities as they can be quite limited, and that’s if the organisations that they work for are lucky enough to have the budget to provide those training and development opportunities at all and it’s often the case that in the third-sector those opportunities don’t exist.
“What we’re providing is a full package for young BAME people that gives them personal development through the lived experience of the leaders that will deliver the training. That’ll be delivered through intensive learning and shadowing, as well as mentoring in their regular working hours by someone from the BAME community. After several months they’ll take part in refreshed learning where they explore how their initial learning has supported them and to basically repeat that over the course of about nine months. There’s a long process to the programme that means that people benefit from repeated learning.”