Developing Together Social Work  Teaching Partnership

Celebrating Black Voices – 30 October 2023

We recently hosted our sixth bi-annual Celebrating Black Voices event for Black History Month 2023. The theme this year was ‘Saluting Our Sisters’, celebrating, honouring and acknowledging the achievements of black women throughout history.

The event featured incredibly inspiring presentations from: Fay Morris (Child & Family Support Services Manager, Welcare) and Rachel Lukwago (Interim Corporate Head of Service Localities/Occupational Therapists/L&D, Kingston Adults).

Fay spoke to the group about her experiences as a Windrush child, and her journey into social work. She talked about the managers who made an impact on her throughout her time, from one manager who “took everyone as they came” and could sympathise with prejudices due to his own blindness; to her first black female manager, who shared what she had also overcome, and became someone to aspire to. Through balancing her family and work lives, Fay spoke of the importance of considering the impact you would have on people after you are gone. For example, her children are bold and aspire to many things as they have watched her do it!

Rachel followed this by talking to the group about how she as an individual is looking at how she can support other black women. It is important to step forward and accept recognition of your achievements and to lift each other up. She echoed Fay’s words around the impact you can have on others. It is also important to share your personal experiences and support each other to challenge and make the place you work better; support from colleagues who are allies is crucial to this.

Following this, attendees were asked to share their own stories of black women they celebrate and admire in breakout groups before sharing with the wider group. A number of attendees said that the people they thought of first were family members, and others shared that their experience of Black History Month and learning about activists was very different as they had grown up in different countries. In terms of Social Work, the work of Dr. Prospera Tedam was highlighted as inspiring anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice.

The Teaching Partnership team’s Taz Mudali shared a brief presentation on ‘Hidden Herstories’, featuring a number of notable black women whose accomplishments were either not acknowledged at the time, or had been overlooked. The slides and further recommended reading can be found here. As usual, the event finished with a montage to celebrate current and historical black voices. In line with the theme, this focused on notable voice of black women. To view the montage slideshow, please click here.

The feedback from those who attended were positive, with comments such as “I truly enjoyed the space & listening to such inspiring contributions”, “thank you for such a helpful and encouraging discussion and the opportunity to salute our brothers and sisters”, and people saying they appreciate the space to reflect and learn.

A huge thank you to Fay, Rachel, those who shared their own experiences with the group, as well as everyone who attended the event.