Ubele [oo-beh-leh] is taken from Swahili meaning ‘the future’.
We support the growth of individuals and community-based groups and organisations through intergenerational leadership initiatives, capacity support, enterprise, and asset development.
The Ubele Initiative was founded in 2014, following a series of dialogue sessions with African diaspora leaders, to find effective solutions to persistent social and economic issues in the UK. Community-rooted and collaborative in character, Ubele began to serve its purpose - building a sustainable and resilient future for our communities.
Help me and let me help you"
Symbol of cooperation and interdependence
Innovative and collaborative; we increased our reach
We began working with African and Caribbean communities in London and Manchester and built strong connections with the global African diaspora, to create opportunities for mutual learning and exchange. Our commitment to tackling marginalisation and deprivation led to working with diverse communities, including Asian, Latin American, Gypsy and Traveller-led groups, and disadvantaged white communities in coastal regions. Maintaining our bottom-up, community-based practice, we facilitated, incubated, and nurtured community initiatives; enabling people to tackle racial and social injustice and advance their own solutions to challenges within their communities.
Partnership and collaboration are core to Ubele and our vision of resilient communities. From the beginning, we sought relationships with infrastructure organisations and supporters across the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE). We encouraged open and honest conversations about race and equality and challenged the status quo.
The Covid-19 pandemic exposed inequalities disproportionately impacting on Black and Minoritised communities. Ubele has been at the forefront of documenting and responding to the lived experience of our communities.
In April 2020, we published a report on the impact of the pandemic on the sector following surveys carried out with 165 organisations. Using this evidence, we successfully advocated for more equitable distribution of crisis funding and support. In December 2020, our follow up report recommended further work on strengthening the collaborative capacity and voice of the sector on a national and regional level, to better support the sustainability of micro and small community organisations, which have been at the forefront of responding to the crisis and at the greatest risk of closure.
We will ensure that the needs of hundreds of community organisations that provided essential services to Black and Minoritised communities through the pandemic have a voice in the debate and can help shape national, regional and local plans for recovery.
Intergenerational practice runs like a golden thread through our work. We value what each generation can contribute and create opportunities for intergenerational dialogue.
We pass to younger generations cultural values and traditions of the African diaspora community and we empower young people to find their voice and assume leadership roles.
Our ability to develop Young Emerging Leaders Collective and to take an intergenerational approach within our core practice is vital to the future sustainability of our communities. In 2015, our report, ‘A Place to Call Home’ identified a leadership gap due to ageing community leaders, loss of community spaces and a lack of next generation leaders from Black and Minoritised communities.
We invested in young adult leaders, bringing 320 individuals together in intergenerational learning groups, via our ERASMUS+ exchange programmes in 23 EU countries, creating opportunities for intergenerational learning, mentoring and practice around the transformation and future viability of community spaces.
In ten years, we had a transformational impact on thousands of individuals, and developed a tailored practice of capacity support which responds to the specific needs of voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations, led by and primarily serving Black and Minoritised communities.
This has been important for community organisations with ageing and under-resourced buildings and spaces, for whom the introduction and modelling of more entrepreneurial and partnership-based approaches to asset management has been highly effective. Since 2017, we have worked with 11 organisations in London and Manchester enabling them to hold on to assets that may otherwise have been lost to their communities.
And, we have learned by doing, developing a model of best practice at the Wolves Lane Horticultural Centre, where we are one of three steward organisations within a consortium overseeing the transformation of a former council owned site to a community owned asset supporting a number of food growing social and community enterprises.