Together We Excel
The demise of youth club provision and closure of the Ipswich Caribbean Association, the community has seen a significant erosion on our children’s sense of identity, self-worth and performance. This has led to African, Caribbean and children of dual-heritage backgrounds becoming more vulnerable to drug and gang culture, and educational exclusions.
The opportunities that we aim to provide within the project would address many of the cultural and social challenges that black young people are facing, and without such intervention, it would make it far more difficult for the young people to have an equal footing.
I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me
All three directors Keiran Manners, Sharon Murray-Sakumai and Imani Sorhaindo have been actively involved in youth and community education for several years. Their findings have highlighted areas of needs with socio-economic groups within African, Caribbean and Dual-Heritage children.
Evidence of the needs we are trying to overcome were highlighted in the ‘No school is an island’ report, where black students had a 10% gap over recent years in GCSE grades compared to white peers. (RSA findings, 2013 cited by Suffolk County Council, 2020). The ‘No School is an Island’ inquiry led to the development of the ‘Raising the Bar’ education initiative within Suffolk, to ensure no child was left behind within the local education system. One of the priorities of the early conception of Raising the Bar, placed a strong emphasis on better understanding the needs and improving the attainment of black students of school age within local education provision. One of the directors for the ACYCLE project ‘Keiran Manners’ was involved in helping to deliver improved outcomes against this priority with black students in the Ipswich area. The Raising the Bar 2018 – 2020 strategy has unfortunately removed this priority, at a time where better understanding the issues and development needs of black children in Suffolk is at a critical point within some communities.
There is also an over-representation of black young people as both victims and suspects of crime, an issue which significantly disrupts their educational attainment and wider areas of development. This makes black young people more vulnerable to a host of other risk factors when living in neighbourhoods where certain types of crime are disproportionately higher, particularly for those from families living in low income households with limited opportunities.
In 2015, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation also highlighted that mixed and black ethnic groups have worse labour market outcomes regardless of whether they lived in better off or deprived neighbourhoods. It is therefore evident that the early intervention framework proposed by ACYCLE would also play a critical role in raising the bar socially, educationally and culturally for children from black and dual heritage backgrounds. These anticipated outcomes would apply regardless of the social class and household income of the participating children’s families.
The assumption made about the importance of the ACYCLE programme is also supported by the report ‘Hidden Needs’ (2017) on hidden deprivation and community needs in Suffolk, a report which fails to highlight the complex needs of black young people in the county. By omitting this discussion, the report evidences that very little value is placed on having provisions that meet the cultural needs of children, in order for them to develop and achieve into adulthood.
We are looking for volunteers who are happy to engage as well as motivate children and families as we develop the educational programme at ACYCLE.