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January Update from Yvonne

January 29th, 2024

New year resolutions appear to have faded into the background as we focus on delivering work priorities, tackling complex challenges, and seeking new creative opportunities.  Taking even small steps towards achieving a vision can involve rocky territory for even the most experienced travellers.  

I was reminded of this by my daughter Omolara who is an entrepreneur of almost 11 years. Like many of our young adults who decide to set up their own business, she has experienced many of the trials and tribulations of attempting to do this in the competitive and challenging world of global fashion.  Aged 19, and deciding against a university place, she set out on her entrepreneurial journey with an initial investment of £400 from her mum! She schemed and dreamed in our family kitchen and took her first step towards creating a niche business of which, she (and her family), are justly proud. Reflecting on her journey during her 30th birthday celebrations last week she shared how she approaches most days with ‘blind faith’. I have never heard her bask in the delight of some of the freedoms associated with being ‘your own boss’; I observe her working all hours of the day and night; there is no 9-5 when pursuing your dreams. She manages a significant amount of uncertainty each day, often unsure what the next 24 hours will bring. She sometimes struggles to face yet another rollercoaster day but seeks out advice and support to help fuel her creativity, business ideas and skills. 

Last month we launched the Agbero 2100 a new national initiative alongside A Place to Call Home 2.0 research in Manchester. A large group of community leaders, national and regional infrastructure organisations and funders convened to learn about the vision and programme for Agbero 2100 and hear about the findings of the research. These two elements will now come together to provide national learning opportunities, community development leadership and tailored support to Black and racially minoritised organisations which ‘own’ or ‘manage’ community spaces. A series of regional roadshows will be hosted by The Phoenix Way partners across England over the next 6 weeks. The Ubele vision of redeveloped community spaces and next generation leadership led by our communities which started out as a piece of paper in 2010 is now being realised in earnest. The story of our journey has yet to be told. 

Ubele celebrates its 10th year anniversary this year with a series of events and activities across the whole year. Recognising and celebrating achievements is important and we would like to hear your ideas about what we could do to recognise your contribution to our work. However, this year also offers an important opportunity to reflect on what we and the communities we support continue to suffer despite hundreds of years of contribution to this country. Empirical research and lived experience show clear evidence of continued racial, social and economic injustices our communities experience, witness and deal with on a daily basis which would have hazardous effects even to the most intrepid traveller. Recent global devastating incidents created new spaces for long-overdue conversations which attempt to address some of these deep-rooted systemic issues; just how long they will exist and how impactful they will be is still to be seen. We should however remember that ‘the map is not the territory’ as the map is simply a representation of what someone thought the land looked like, but the territory is the reality we must deal with (there is no road!). 

When Ubele started its journey, the territory was extremely hostile to conversations about the existence and impact of systemic racism on Black and racially minoritised (or as I read the other day ‘minoritised majority’) communities. We have relatively little idea of the map, or the territory will look like over the next 10 years, but we know it will be extremely tough. 

I celebrate my daughter and the millions of other young adults like her for their resilience, fortitude, creativity, and unwillingness to remain silent about daily global injustices experienced by our people. They are the wayfarers who will not only change the maps but also the territories for us but also for future generations. 

 Yvonne Field OBE


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