Colors: Blue Color

Edgbaston father, Saeed Ahmed, has been named ‘Campaigner of the Year’ by the national disability charity, Sense, for sharing his family’s story of caring for his 21-year-old disabled son, Azhar, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Saeed, 44, was recognised at the Sense Awards 2020 for supporting the charity’s #ForgottenFamilies campaign, which called on Government to reinstate services for families caring for disabled adults at home during lockdown.

As part of the campaign, Saeed presented Sense’s open letter to the Government asking for better support for families like his during the pandemic. He also gave interviews with national and regional media, including ITV News, to share his family’s story and highlight the devastating impact of the lack of support for families caring for disabled adults at home during lockdown.

When the UK entered lockdown in March, Azhar’s usual care and support stopped completely, and Saeed and his family took on all caring responsibilities. The sudden change of routine was frustrating for Azhar and affected his wellbeing, as the family was unable to explain why he was forced to stay at home.

Saeed Ahmed said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have been nominated for and won the ‘Campaigner of the Year’ award for 2020. Sense as an organisation is close to my heart as they provide invaluable day care for my son and I’m glad that I have supported the recent campaign to highlight the difficulties that families like mine have faced throughout lockdown.”

Sense Chief Executive, Richard Kramer, said: “Congratulations to Saeed, our ‘Campaigner of the Year’ for 2020. This year has been challenging for everyone, but particularly for those caring for disabled people at home during lockdown. Despite this, Saeed committed to being involved in Sense’s #ForgottenFamilies campaign, calling for change for not only his own family, but the many other families across the country who also face this crisis.”

The Sense Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of people with complex disabilities, as well as the staff, carers, family members, volunteers and fundraisers who support them.

 

 

 

Pope Francis has said he will appoint 13 new Roman Catholic cardinals, among them the first African-American clergyman.

 

The Pope announced the 13 cardinals from eight nations in a surprise address from his window overlooking St Peter's Square in Rome.

 

Wilton Daniel Gregory, the progressive 72-year-old Archbishop of Washington DC, will be one of them. The cardinals will be installed in a ceremony at the Vatican on 28 November. Cardinals are the most senior clergymen in the Roman Catholic Church below the pontiff.

 

Their role includes electing the pope - the head of the Church - who is chosen from among them at a secret gathering known as a conclave.

 

As four of the new intake are over the age of 80, they are not allowed to vote under Church rules.

 

The nine nominees who will be eligible to vote come from Italy, Malta, Rwanda, the United States, the Philippines, Chile, Brunei and Mexico.

 

Vatican experts say the appointment of new cardinals will cement Pope Francis's influence on the clergymen who will one day elect his successor. Assuming the new cardinals are appointed, Pope Francis will have selected almost 60% of prelates during his tenure, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

 

An ordained priest since the age of 25, he became Washington's archbishop in May 2019. He replaced Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who resigned amid criticism of his handling of abuse cases.

 

In the US, Archbishop Gregory has been a prominent voice in the effort to root out abuse within the Church. As president of the US bishops' conference, he persuaded Church leaders to adopt tougher penalties for abusers in 2002.

 

Archbishop Gregory has been critical of President Donald Trump over his use of rhetoric and visits to religious sites. The archbishop rebuked President Trump's visit to a shrine to St John Paul II in Washington, calling it "baffling and reprehensible".

 

The visit came in June, a day after the president had ordered the dispersal of peaceful protesters near the White House. Archbishop Gregory said St John Paul II "certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace".

 

The 13 include Italian priest Raniero Cantalamessa, 84, who has served as preacher to three papal households. Another Italian nominee, Marcello Semeraro, is a 72-year-old bishop who oversees the canonisation of saints by the Church. A cardinal post will also go to Maltese Mario Grech, the head of the Synod of Bishops, an influential advisory body for the pope.

 

Others include Antoine Kambanda, the Archbishop of Kigali in Rwanda; Jose Fuerte Advincula, the Archbishop of Capiz in the Philippines; and Celestino Aos Braco, the Archbishop of Santiago in Chile.

As blue plaques are continuing to be put up in places of historic note serve as a permanent tribute to Britain’s notable men and women throughout the UK, one established organisation have joined forces with an equally established creative agency to pay likewise homage to distinguished figures of African and Caribbean dissent who have made an equally telling contribution to the United Kingdom.

 

Often ignored or discriminated against by the establishment during their lifetime, many historically significant individuals continue to be excluded posthumously – until now!

 

Community organisation Nubian Jak and creative agency Havas London has teamed up to create ‘The Black Plaque Project’: a new initiative which commemorates the rich and diverse contribution of Black people throughout history through a series of black plaques across London.

 

The Project sees specially designed black plaques temporarily installed on buildings across the capital to celebrate the lives of its notable Black residents — who, despite their achievements, continue to be officially overlooked.

 

Launched on the ITV London news programme, the first plaque to be installed recognising the contributions of musician Winifred Atwell – who, in 1954, became the first Black person to go to the top of the UK singles chart with ‘Let’s Have Another Party’ – her plaque going up in Brixton, where she lived throughout her early years.

 

Other plaques due to be acknowledged include: Len Dyke, Dudley Dryden and Tony Wade, the fathers of the Black hair care and beauty industry in the 1960s and among Britain’s first Black millionaires - their plaque to be installed at their first shop in Tottenham, and Afrobeat pioneer and political campaigner, Fela Kuti - his plaque to be installed in Greenwich, in south east London, where he studied at Trinity College of Music.

 

Selected in consultation with Dr Jak Beula, founder and CEO of Nubian Jak Community Trust, permissions for 30 black plaques are being secured, with an interactive Black Plaques map at: www.blackplaqueproject.com 

 

Dr Jak said: “There are nowhere near enough blue plaques celebrating Black achievement and history in Britain, so it is vital this project has a lasting legacy. Partnering with Havas on The Black Plaque Project helps us to raise awareness of this institutional discrimination and puts the pressure on those institutions — it shouldn’t just be us doing this.

 

“We must ensure these plaques commemorating our common cultural heritage keep going up and stay up — there are so many more stories that need to be told to celebrate our rich, diverse past and to inspire future generations”.

 

Havas London creative team, Sam Adio and Ken Abalos, said collectively: “We’re incredibly proud to see this project come together. Black history is British history; it’s the history of our city, our home and our community, and for too long it has been overlooked and ignored. This is our chance to shed light on this exclusion and discrimination, and to do something to end it.”

 

The Black Plaque Project also aims to raise money for Nubian Jak to help turn the temporary black plaques into permanent blue plaques.

 

 

 

Having made history as the first Black Female Principal Dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has said that ballet is listening after George Floyd killing.

 

"As the world is changing, as it grows more diverse, if the ballet world doesn't evolve with it, then it's going to die," she said.

 

She says that after George Floyd's death and the focus on Black Lives Matter, for the first time in her 20-year career, people are starting to listen to her about the problem of diversity within the global ballet industry.

 

Misty became the first Black woman to become the principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre in its 81-year history.

 

A true prodigy, she was dancing en pointe within three months of taking her first dance class and performing professionally in just over a year: a feat unheard of for any classical dancer.

 

"There's so many communities that are not going to support an art form that they feel does not want them to be a part of it," she says.

 

Born in Kansas City, Missouri Misty was raised in San Pedro, California, before beginning her ballet studies at the late age of thirteen. At fifteen, she won first place in the Music Centre Spotlight Awards.

 

She studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on full scholarship and was declared ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000. Misty joined ABT’s Studio Company in 2000, joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in 2001, and in 2007 became the company’s second Black female Soloist and the first in two decades.

 

In 2015, Misty was promoted to principal dancer, making her the first Black woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history.

Malik Sinegal, a 23-year old from Mississippi, has made history as the youngest African American to be certified as a Boeing 777 pilot in the world. He himself did not initially realize just how significant his accomplishment is!

Malik says that he found out about the record-breaking news only when a representative from Boeing contacted him to inform about it.

“The Triple 7 is one of the airplanes that people usually don’t touch until they’re around their forties or fifties or they’ve been at the airlines for a very long time,” he said.

“And I came down with the opportunity where — a scholarship opportunity where — I was able to get into the airplane.”

Malik shared that he has always wanted to fly Boeing 777, which is known as the world’s largest twinjet.

“The biggest reason for me is that I’ve always wanted to fly this airplane. I was able to get in it for my first time in 2004 going to Anchorage, Alaska, which is my favourite place in the world.”

 

 

From his early years growing up in the Ashanti region of Ghana, to now inspiring the youth through teaching, leadership and management in the British Army, Emmanuel Asumadu-Aboagye is certainly an interesting man.

Emmanuel is a Ghanaian born Sergeant Major Instructor in Gunnery in the British Army, and has been a part of the Armed Forces for 13 years.

He grew up in Manpong, part of the Ashanti region of Ghana, before moving to Kumasi at a very young age. Educated at Minnesota International School in Kumasi, before attending Junior High Secondary in Manpong, and then Konongo Odumase Senior High School before the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, teaching, learning and education are at the core of Emmanuel’s life.

Emmanuel completed his BSc in Mathematics, majoring in Mathematical Economics in 2006, and during his course, he used to holiday in the UK with family and friends from December 2004 onwards.

While at University, he met his now-wife, Patricia, who was studying Sociology and Social Science. They married in December 2007, and she is now a teacher, holding her Masters degree in teaching.

It was after finishing his degree that Emmanuel decided to join the British Army, and on the 3rd September 2007, he started his basic training at Pirbright.

“I loved the Army, and even if I hadn’t moved to the UK I still would’ve joined, because I loved the discipline and the way that the army transforms people,” explained Emmanuel.

“It gives you that extra confidence that gets you through things. A lot of things enticed me, but mainly the discipline and confidence from being a part of the military.”

After his basic training, he completed his Trade Training at Larkhill, before being posted to Germany as part of the 3rd Royal Horse Artillery based in Hohne on the 6th June 2008.

Patricia joined him in Germany until 2015, when following rebasing, the German Barracks disbanded and they moved back to Newcastle.

“While I was there I was selected to attend the Royal Artillery Premier Course, which was the Gunnery Career Course in 2018. I had to move back down to Larkhill with my family to attend the 1 year long course.

“I passed with flying colours and got the privilege to be employed within the Artillery Commands Systems branch as a SMIG – Sergeant Major Instructor in Gunnery.”

Emmanuel has 3 daughters, Ines (10), Solace (6) and Lois (3) and now teaches how to use the radios in the Army, communications, and how to become detachment commanders.

“This is not like basic training, it’s more the educative side of teaching.”

He currently works under a Master Gunner, which he hopes to become in the future.

“Being part of the army has changed me a lot. It has given me that moral compass to be able to carry out my duties at work and at home, and even the extracurricular activities I do outside of work to help the country,” Emmanuel stated, smiling.

“It has transformed me completely and made me a better person, and I am enjoying it. That is as a result of the core values and standards that we uphold in the Army.”

The old African adage, ‘Education Is The Key To Success’ is key in everything that Emmanuel believes in. “My parents used to tell me this, no matter what you do, educate yourself.”

“I always want to develop myself, make myself better to compete with the best, and in order to do that I sacrificed my free time to go away and do courses.

“All of the awards I have are result of me going away to do things in my own time to upgrade myself, because the army is very, very competitive.”

He also takes part in a lot of charity work, volunteering with Trinity YMCA and Arms around the Child, while being an ambassador for Violent Crime Prevention Board UK.

“All of these charities are about championing the youth,” continued Emmanuel. “My best friend Christian Atsu who plays for Newcastle, is an Ambassador for Arms Around The Child, and we are trying to change the narratives of what is there and what we can do to redefine these kids.

“We go around speak to them, act as role models, doing Skype calls, educating and mentoring. We work closely with the Metropolitan police as well, and especially the Cadets that are going through police training.”

Emmanuel is proud to be an inspiration to his Commonwealth brothers and sisters, as achieving what he has in such a short time within the Army is nothing short of incredible.

At a recent outreach programme in Ipswich, Emmanuel was taking questions from the children, many of whom were saying that they thought the army was racist.

“I told them that there is racism everywhere as we have seen, but it's all about how you compose yourself and conduct yourself and how you do things. If I've been able to do it then you can do it too.”

Emmanuel says that he feels he has brought a lot of diversity to the Army, and is proud to have brought his knowledge to support his subordinates and colleagues.

“I have taught mathematics to soldiers in Afghanistan when I was deployed out there. When it wasn't busy I volunteered to go to the education centre to teach mathematics and English.”

Emmanuel is himself just finishing another degree, this time in Education and Professional Development at Huddersfield University, paid for by the Army.

“The army is the best place to be, as it gives young people the opportunity to find their talents, and to educate themselves, as there are people that join with no qualifications but by the time they leave they have a load.”

His journey to SMIG has been a speedy and impressive one, and for the dedicated family man and proud Ghanaian, the only way is up from here.