Developing Together Social Work  Teaching Partnership

Celebrating Black Voices – 3 October 2022

This week, we hosted our fourth Celebrating Black Voices event, to celebrate Black History Month.

The afternoon featured three incredibly inspiring presentations from: Alison Burton and Natalie Duvall, the two co-founders and Directors of March Muses; Sherma Charles, Team Manager at the NSPCC; and Vanessa Boachie, founder and Director of Inside Out Wellbeing.

Alison and Natalie talked about their journey in creating a range of fairies, angels, tree toppers and festive decorations that were more representative of themselves and their children. They have faced many challenges (online hate, juggling family and business) as well as successes (receiving backing from two Dragons on Dragon’s Den and getting retailed in Selfridges). Their goal is to have their children be as blase about a new Black angel or fairy that they release, rather than wonder whether they can be Black in the first place!

Sherma led a session on ‘Language in Reports’ and appropriate challenge, which focused on looking at the language used in reports about individuals from a Black and Global Majority background. She explored the barriers that colleagues might face when challenging inappropriate language, and the importance of using a racial and cultural lens when examining the language in reports. “To not challenge is to allow and, by default, collude with the misrepresentation and marginalisation of families.”

Vanessa gave a brief yet powerful overview of culturally-informed wellbeing. She realised while she was studying and during her career in mental health, that support and training for those working in health, especially mental health, needs to better consider the effects of race and culture on an individual’s wellbeing. This motivated her to set up Inside Out Wellbeing. Gaining awareness of these issues, as well as self-awareness of your own level of knowledge, can be a superpower!

This was followed by a montage to celebrate prominent current and historical Black figures, particularly considering wellbeing. To view the montage slideshow, please click here.

Those who attended were extremely positive about the event, with many commenting that it was ‘brilliant’, ‘inspiring’, ‘powerful’, ‘informative’ and ‘thought provoking’.

A huge thank you to all of our brilliant presenters, and to our own Josie Newton who chaired and opened the event. A big thank you also to everyone who attended and gave such lovely feedback, and to those such as a local councillor who got involved. It sends a powerful message when those in senior positions make the effort to spread the important message to support and champion diverse voices.