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Black History Month celebration - the highlights!

Published on 10 October 2023 11:09 AM

It was fantastic to see so many people from all backgrounds at our celebration of black history, food and culture. After a traditional punch, and a welcome from our services manager Jenny Jean-Charles, we all settled down to the show…

As a trained actor and former lecturer, our wonderful speaker Lola Young, Baroness Young of Hornsey had no need for a microphone. 

She shared a few stories from her incredible life – from going into foster care at the age of 8 after her parents separated (‘Five of us were sleeping in the same room and there was no bathroom!) to giving her maiden speech in the House of Lords after being made a peer in 2004. 

‘I saw Margaret Thatcher talking to Normal Tebbit and I thought – whatever they’ve achieved, I’m here too.’

We are all looking forward to reading her biography which will be coming out next year.

Singer Nyotaa left us spellbound with a beautiful rendition of At Last by Etta James and Stand by Me by Ben E King.

We also enjoyed a lively cookery demo from our social prescribers Kristian, Lamarra and Manuela and learnt say a few words of Ghanian, Nigerian and Ugandan while the aroma of sweet potato curry wafted through the room.

John, part of the Windrush generation, spoke about his first impressions of London when he came over from Jamaica as a young man. We then saw a film about Windrush written and directed by Ashleigh Cooper, which looks at the broken promises of the Windrush Generation but ends on a feeling of hope.

Social prescriber Kristian, not only a whizz in the kitchen, is a poet on the side and treated us to a few of his own compositions – stressing the importance of identity and how we should never lose sight of who we are and where we come from.

This echoed Baroness Lola Young’s earlier comment: ‘It’s important to look back at our history and share stories and learn from the past so we don’t end up making the same mistakes.’

After an afternoon of wise words, fun and music we enjoyed a delicious meal – Jollof rice, jerk chicken and an Ethiopian lentil curry, along with the sweet potato curry which formed part of the demo – all made by our fantastic kitchen team. 

‘Everyone had a fantastic time and I was overwhelmed by the positive comments from people afterwards from all walks of life and backgrounds,’ says Jenny. ‘Everything came together – the food, Baroness Lola Young’s incredible story, the amazing singing from Nyotaa and everyone working brilliantly as a team to celebrate our wonderful culture.'

Big thanks to...

… the kitchen team Kristian, Lamara, Manuela and Salima for preparing and cooking the food and to Fiona for being washer upper supreme! 

… DJ Tibzz on the decks, keeping up the energy with some great music

…the 8 lovely volunteers from Maximus UK Services, 

...Teresa for producing the fascinating story boards detailing Afro/Caribbean history and culture

...the Age UK Barnet art class for the brilliant portraits and paintings

… Jenny Jean-Charles for pulling the whole event together and her wonderful opening speech about the importance of building intergenerational relationships.

A few snapshots from the day

Baroness Lola Young with Steve (aka DJ Tibzz), Jenny and our kitchen team Salima and social prescribers Lamarra, Manuela and Kristian.

A packed room - 100 attendees!

Baroness Lola Young sharing her story.

Cookery demo in action!

Our Jenny and incredible singer Nyotaa

Jenny with our social perscribers.

Thanks to the team at Maximus UK Services for volunteering and helping to make the event run smoothly.

To try our sweet potato curry which we served at our black history event click here

To see a list of ingredients used in the food we served on the day click here