The prevailing stereotype of black men is that they may be great sportsmen or dancers, but they do not live up to their responsibilities as men and fathers.
The 100 Black Men of London is a community-based charity, which counters that negative stereotype by working on the frontline within the community, delivering programmes in on four key areas - Mentoring, Health and Wellbeing, Economic Empowerment and Education – all underpinned by a focus on Leadership.
-- This is article #93 in our series of #100Voices4Men and boys
Why does the 100 Black Men of London focus on those key areas? The headline statistics speak for themselves:
Economic Empowerment: the UK’s first Wealth and Assets Survey in 2009 reported that the net asset value of the average white household was £221,000, compared to £76,000 for Black Caribbean and £15,000 for Black African households.
Health and Wellbeing: Prostate Cancer UK report that Black men are more 3 times likely to get prostate cancer than men of other ethnic backgrounds and 1 in 4 Black men in the UK will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
Education: Joseph Rowntree organisation’s report reveals that Black and dual-heritage children and young people and those living in poverty are three times more likely to be permanently excluded from school than other groups.
Mentoring Prison Reform Trust research shows that out of the British national prison population, 11% are black, significantly higher than the 2.8% of the general population they represent.
It is because of the impact of these and other shocking statistics that the members of the 100 Black Men of London have decided to step up and play their part in the solution to these problems.
They define leadership as “the capacity and utilization of exceptional personal values to empower others and build a community to achieve a great legacy”, and through the commitment and passion of their members. These black men give not just money but their time in service to their community, determined to help build a legacy of success and leadership through the young people they mentor.
Through their programmes like Community Mentoring, Education through Film, Black Heroes Walk, Schools programme and Book Club, the 100 Black Men of London has directly impacted the lives of several thousand boys, girls and parents over the past 13 years.
For example, the Community Mentoring Programme is a free and accredited programme delivered as a fortnightly Saturday school for youths aged 10 upwards, covering a variety of critical life-skills like self-esteem, effective expression, succeeding at school, use and abuse of social media, money management, peer pressure, healthy relationships, goal setting, drugs and substance abuse, black history, business and financial literacy, leadership, team building, peer mentoring and many more.
'Real Men Giving Real Time'
The accompanying Parents Programme acts as a community discussion forum, mirroring the topics covered by their children, allowing parents to share knowledge and experience about how to take charge of the upbringing of their children.
The highlight of the year for the 100 Black Men of London is their Community Mentoring Programme Graduation Ceremony, which is always a sell out.
This July over 200 friends, family and supporters packed the Lecture Theatre of the West Green Learning Centre to see the ‘Diamonds’ as the 100 call their mentees, graduate to the next level of the 5 year programme. Each Diamond and Parent stands noticeably taller and prouder on this wonderful day.
The motto of the 100 Black Men of London is ‘Real Men Giving Real Time’. Through its example and leadership, the organisation aims to dispel the clichés and stereotypes about black men and demonstrate to the community and the world that black men can, do and will stand up and contribute to the success of their community.
By Kolarele Sonaike, President, 100 Black Men of London
You can find all of the #100Voices4Men articles that will be published in the run up to International Men's Day 2014 by clicking on this link---#100Voices4Men---and follow the discussion on twitter by searching for #100Voices4Men.
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