A pre-word from Make CIC
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA), in partnership with Curious Minds; a charity dedicated to improving the lives of children and young people through great art and culture, has commissioned community and voluntary sector organisations to host six young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds to amplify the voices of people from BAME backgrounds across the Liverpool City Region. This will be done by carrying out creative research through a variety of engagement activities that will generate evidence and ideas to drive achievable change.
COVID-19 has exposed the inequality that exists in the Liverpool City Region, with many of those most adversely affected being from our Black, Asian and other diverse Ethnic Communities. This project is part of our wider Race Equality Programme and aims to further appreciate the lived experience of young Black, Asian and other diverse Ethnic groups, by facilitating conversations across three key areas between March 2021 and October 2021.
Over to our young producer, Ruvimbo Bliss Munodawafa.
My name is Ruvimbo Bliss Munodawafa, and I am a 26 years old multidisciplinary artist. I am a storyteller that uses poetic writing, singing, acting, dancing, and the creation of traditional and cultural sewn art to deliver spiritual messages through my work. I am currently working on a 6-month Generations for Change project. The project is a paid development and training opportunity for young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds aged 18- 30 years.
Make CIC is my host organisation for the project. I’m excited about this opportunity as I feel it is revolutionary. The project is something that is the first of its kind. Make is a creative organisation that offers spaces for creatives to do what they do best; harnessing, developing and using their skills to create. Make CIC offers courses, workshops, events and the opportunity to learn and pick up a new skill.
When applying for the Generations for Change programme, a few thoughts came to mind. Am I going to be under an organisation that shares similar moral values to mine? An organisation with integrity & values that uplift the human spirit? I read Make’s manifesto and connected with the two founders of Make CIC, Kirsten and Liam. Kirsten and Liam are two friends, both from working-class backgrounds, that have used their life experiences as a driving force to create spaces that have an impact on the people that engage with their services.
I knew that I was working alongside growth-oriented open-minded individuals, especially after meeting the friendly, welcoming and, happy team. Although Make is a predominantly white-led organisation, I am happy that Make has welcomed a Black African woman as an employee. I am proud of the awareness that Make is embracing; having BAME people in positions of power, especially within the creative sector.
I’m thankful for them rewriting the narrative and excited to work with an organisation that is pro affirmative action. This gives me peace of mind and brings me joy to know I work alongside a team of individuals that are positive, open-minded, and so ready to learn and create new policies in order to change.
Led by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, our project is to conduct research for the Combined Authority. The research will help him understand the lived experience of young BAME people within their communities within Liverpool City Region’s six local authorities – Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens & Wirral.
I shall be conducting my research within the Wirral. Upon self-reflection, I am aware that my journey has led me here. Living consciously and becoming aware, I understand that what we consume mentally, emotionally, and spiritually impacts us at a much deeper level. Only when we allow ourselves to delve within can we allow ourselves to discover the truth that is urging us to live authentically.
In 2017 I embarked on a journey of self-discovery after surviving a fire in London. I had a determination to document the inner experience I had gone through. I explored and questioned the themes of belonging, identity, materialism, spirituality, and technology, and the impact these themes have on our existence. The driving force being healing, personal development and growth. This exploration identified the natural talent, strengths, and abilities my best friend and I had. Enabling us to use the natural resources we had to turn a “negative” situation into something positive through a handmade zine, which I created the poetry and illustrations.
My determination to understand the reason why I had been given a second chance at life awakened an inner knowing that sharing our life stories and experiences allows us to pass on wisdom and knowledge that entertains, inspires, empowers, and educates. But most importantly, it starts the necessary conversations needed for the progression and enlightenment of not only ourselves as individuals but society as a whole.
As a Zimbabwean woman who has now moved back to Liverpool after having left as a result of racism and the lack of opportunities for BAME people within the creative and professional industry, I started digging deep into the roots of my heritage. An idea was born between friends in 2019, which turned into a collaborative partnership to document the Merseyside Caribbean Centre’s journey. We discovered locals within the community that had come together.
Reconnecting with the black community in the L8 area allowed me to learn vital information. I learnt that the Merseyside Caribbean centre is the oldest standing Caribbean centre in Europe. Elders from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Nigeria, to name a few, held classes in the centre to teach the youth their history, encouraging them to be proud of where they’re from.
A powerful lesson I took away from a Jamaican elder was, “We need to connect with the youth. They are so disconnected from their history, and we need to educate the youth so they can stop rejecting their history and identity because they have an inferiority complex” This is something I feel that is drilled into us through our external environment on a daily basis.
As an African woman, born in Zimbabwe and raised in Liverpool as an Asylum seeker, who received her British citizenship not too long ago, I aim to be my most authentic self to enable the young BAME people I shall be connecting with to feel the freedom in doing the same. Our voices are often silenced, and hopefully, through this role, a voice for the voiceless will be provided. Our life stories need to be taken seriously as they too have meaning and are profound in having the ability to educate, inspire, and empower.
If you or anyone you know would like to hear more about this project and get involved, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!