I used to feel slightly uncomfortable with being referred to as ‘strategic’. However, as time has passed I realised that it would be rather disingenuous not to embrace this as one of the many terms used to describe me.
I usually draw on a combination of ‘gut’,‘women’s ways of knowing’, ‘conversations’ emerging from within local communities as well as scanning the wider political, social and economic environment to inform and help plot my future priorities, plans and actions.
The Ubele Initiative is an example of strategic thinking even though its evolution has been rather organic. As I watched my mother move towards the end of her life I knew that Black communities in the UK needed a ‘Plan B’. She died at age 90 with her dream of returning home unrealised. My father did not get the opportunity to really consider it, he passed away at 60 years old.
My mothers’ death in 2011 was followed by three years of ‘community dialogue or conversations’, which identified some pressing community needs. One of the main themes emerging appeared to be the loss of Black led community ‘assets’ i.e. elder community leaders becoming sick and/or dying and unsustainable iconic community spaces. This was all set against the backdrop of David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ and the Localism Act 2011 which aimed to give more power to local communities within the context of austerity.
Ubele was established in 2014 as a direct result of the above. Its’ mission to create sustainable communities with a focus on the African Diaspora is supported by the findings and recommendations within our foundation research report entitled ‘A Place to Call Home’, 2015.
If a good strategist: requires a higher level view, that often comes with experience; can see the wood for the trees; offers a game plan which ultimately proves to be on point (it might even be viewed as a bit ‘left field’ at times) and yet creates a path that is perceived to be achievable by others then, I have to admit, that’s me to a T.
Scroll down to find out more about the organic evolution of The Ubele Initiative.
The programme provided a space for women to share their individual and collective ideas, insights, aspirations and collective wisdom.
Participants explored a series of questions around what work the African-Caribbean community needs to do intergenerationally (between older and younger people), to ensure that we remain strong and viable for the coming decades.
In 2012 I was awarded with Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellowship. Between May 2013 and February 2014 I travelled to Atlanta, Georgia and Aotearoa, NZ. I used the learning to support the further development of The Ubele Initiative.