Today's Community Champion

Afrah Qassim

Community Development Worker

Afrah Qassim is a Community Development worker, with a Yemeni origin, for Liverpool Primacy Care Trust as well as a charity worker dedicated to tackling domestic abuse within BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) communities to change attitudes towards DA and harmful practices such as forced marriage, ‘honour’ based violence and female genital mutilation, in charities such as Savera.

She has been awarded with the Merseyside Woman of the Year Humanitarian award for her outstanding contribution to protecting some of the most vulnerable and marginalised women in our local communities.


More Community Champions

Asif Sadiq

Special Sergant

Asif is Head of Diversity and Inclusiveness for EY financial services UK. He joined this company as an Assistant Director and was previously the Head of the Equality Diversity and Human Rights Unity for the City of London Police. Working for the City of London police he worked at a number of different departments and currently he is a Special Sergeant. He has worked on a number of voluntary schemes to try to help people from the community, through this work he has received many awards including the Leadership, Enterprise and Citizenship Award, Lion Heart Business Challenge Award, Year of the volunteer Award and the prestigious Mosaic Award for mentoring. He has also won the NAMP Multi Faith Award, Police Officer of the Year Award, the Civil Servant of the Year Award and the prestigious Asian Professional Award. Asif was honored in the Queen's birthday honors list with an MBE for his services to Policing and the Communities. He is also a Freeman of the City of London. Asif is also the former President of the National Association of Muslim Police, an association that plays an important role in bridging the gap between the police and the Muslim Community.

Patricia Gallen

Assistant Commissioner

Patricia is one of  Britain’s most senior police chiefs and is the highest-serving ethnic-minority female officer and  first joined the Met at constable level in 1987 and spent time at the National Crime Squad in London.

She has 30 years experience and joined Merseyside Police in 2006, serving under Bernard Hogan-Howe, who was the then chief constable before becoming the commissioner at the Met.

Gallan leads Scotland Yard’s specialist crime and operations, spearheading the fight against gun crime, homicides and high-harm and high-profile crimes. She sits on the Met’s management board of senior leaders and is a key adviser to the commissioner, Cressida Dick.

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan

Writer, Spoken-word Poet, Speaker, Playwright

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan is a Muslim woman of Pakistani heritage from the UK. She was born in Bradford, raised and state-schooled in Leeds, graduated from a history degree at Cambridge University and master’s in Postcolonial Studies at SOAS.    Suhaiymah is a writer, spoken-word poet, speaker, playwright and founder of, a popular she started where she has written on topics including race, gender, Islamophobia, intersectional feminism and the decolonising of academia.     She has been featured in The Independent, on BBC Radio stations, ITV, The Islam Channel, TEDx conferences, festivals, US slams and UK universities. She is a contributor to the “Cut From the Same Cloth” anthology which will be published in 2018-19. Suhaiymah won second place title in the London Roundhouse Poetry Slam 2017 with her poem, ‘This is Not a Humanising Poem’ which subsequently went viral on the internet. All Suhaiymah’s activism is rooted in Islam.

Rioch Edwards-Brown

Social Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, Founder So You Wanna Be........

Rioch Edwards-Brown, mother of four, started So You Wanna Be In TV? after her son was shot and stabbed while in school. She didn’t want revenge and reached out to the community to give something back. Social Entrepreneur, Diversity and Future Talent expert in TV, Tech & Creative, Rioch is a new breed of influencer, leader and agenda-setting Gen Y / Gen Z consultant for C-Level management. So You Wanna Be In TV? is a disruptive social enterprise, addressing the lack of diversity, social mobility & skills gap through talent pipelines, campaigns and consultancy to future proof industry. Over 2,700 financially disadvantaged young people have benefitted, 68% of those mentored entered industry. 

Based on her successful model, Rioch launched So You Wanna Be In Tech? in 2016 and recently So You Wanna Be In Creative? So You Wanna Be In Law? will start in 2018. Sponsors include: NBCUniversal International, Sony Pictures Television, Tech London Advocates, The Guardian, Creative Skillset, ITV, BT Sports and Promax UK. 

Rioch says, "The answer to the lack of diversity lies in the community. Is TV ready for the new 5 billion online audience? We engage decision makers at the top of TV, tech and creative companies to change the way they recruit at the bottom.’ 

Rioch was a speaker and moderator at MIPCOM 2017 and WPP Stream Greece. She won the ‘Hero Of The Year’ at the European Diversity Awards 2015, Entrepreneur Of Excellence’ at the National Diversity Awards 2014 and is one of Computer Weekly’s 50 Most Influential Women In UK Tech 2017. Rioch is a Tech London Advocate (TLA), member of TLA Createch and TLA Edtech. She has over 100 media appearances for the BBC, ITV, Sky, Newsnight, Woman’s Hour and printed press.

Sonia Meggie

Diversity Advisor

Sonia Meggie is a Diversity Advisor based in London. She has supported and empowered women and ethnic minorities in the UK for over 10 years. She is the founder of Inspirational YOU, a uk based Social Enterprise that specialises in delivering empowering masterclasses and workshops for women, students and start ups.     Sonia works with senior leaders, management teams and the third sector organisations to create, implement and sustain change and improvement.    Her work has brought her many awards, she has been named as one of the Top 30 most inspirational women in the city by Brummel (Diversity Champion category) in 2015, also the BE Mogul award for being one of the most influential and successful black business people in Britain. 

Syed Khalid

Chairman for the Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre

Syed Khalid Miah Olid is a leading figure in the Bangladeshi community, acting as chairman for the Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre. He has  memories of the Liberation War, back in Bangladeshi before ending up in the  North of England as a refugee.

His organisation is open to all and providing space for other organisations to run their own activities, through running an efficient letting service and proving refreshments and equipment to support the activity taking place.

As well managing their own projects , the Centre supports the development of local social enterprises and providing advice to individuals and support to groups who use the centre

Morenike Ajayi

Senior Finance Executive

Morenike Ajayi is a Senior Finance Executive with proven experience in Strategic financial management and planning. Currently she is Assistant Director of Finance and Procurement at a London Housing Association, here she makes transformational changes and contributions to the organisation. Apart from her day job, Morenike is passionate about developing and seeing others excel in their chosen career. Mentoring several candidates, she recognised that many were being held back from higher aspirations, largely due to a negative mind-set and ineffective work ethics. Identifying the gap in the marketplace has compelled her to create “Career Nuggets”, a social enterprise aiming to bridge this gap, which she uses to show others how they can successfully navigate through and up the career ladder.     For giving back so much on top of her day job and specially for her impact within the BAME community she has received an award as a positive role model for “Race, Religion and Faith” from the National Diversity Awards. 

Ibukun Olashore

Chief Executive

Born in Nigeria, Ibukun Olashore, now based in London, is the CEO at OBAC, organisation of Blind Africans and Caribbeans.     The organisation where she is CEO since its creation, was founded in 1988 by a group of visually impared African and Caribbean people and became a registered charity in 1994. The charity was set up to offer services to primarily people with sight loss from black and  ethnic minority backgrounds, and over the years they have included people with other sensory and physical impairments.    Her main duties include organisation development, strategy and fundraising. Her special compromise with disability, equality, diversity and human rights, have driven her to address the importance of these issues through public speaking numerous times throughout her career.

Funke Abimbola

Solicitor,Public Speaker

Funke Abimbola MBE is a solicitor, working as the general counsel and head of financial compliance for Roche UK. She has a Nigerian origin. She studied at the Newcastle University where she obtained her law degree and came to Nigeria in the mid- 1990s to sit for Nigeria Bar examination, after that she has developed her career mainly in the UK. Abimbola is a public speaker and a multi award-winning solicitor. She is one of the most senior black lawyers in her field, she is ranked as a top 20 BAME leader globally according to the financial times, one of the most influential leaders of African/Afro-Caribbean heritage in the UK on The Powerlist and the most influential black lawyer in the UK on the Debretts 500 list for 2017.    Outside her day job, she works as a volunteer in the area of education and fundraising for cancer research, also as a diversity campaigner, mainly focusing on campaigning for more gender equality, race diversity and social mobility across UK society with a specific focus on the legal profession.

Stella Bell-Gam

Spoken-word Artist, Radio Presenter

Stella Bell-Gam is a Spoken Word Artist a radio presenter and a writer based in London. Her goal is to connect with people and shift mindsets by shattering constructs built up within a normalised culture. Primarily through Spoken Word. She is fully embraced to her African roots and heritage and these are the impulse to awaken minds to break free from ideals that she considers that limit the expansion of society. Her artwork is focused on making those marginalised people central to their written story.  

Her projects include the use of multi media, a mixture of poetry, photography, film dance and music.     Her first Directed Poetry Film “Beauty Wears Many Masks” uses the spoken word of Stella to talk about how beauty has been constructed by the white men of Hollywood and sold to African women as an impossible idea. The work is to be seen as an empowerment tool as women wake up to recognise their strength which has been dormant for a long time. 

Michelle Hua

Writer, Speaker, CEO

Michelle Hua is a public speaker, writer, Founder & CEO of Made With Glove Ltd, a UK wearable tech start-up designing fashionable heated gloves for women. She is the Manchester Ambassador of Women of Wearables, a global organisation that supports, inspires and connects women in wearable tech, fashion tech, IoY AR and VR.    She regularly speaks with passion covering many topics at corporate events and universities in the UK. She also participates and moderates panel discussions.     She also delivers practical wearable tech workshops for university students and for girls and young women to inspire them to chose a career in STEM. Part of her volunteer work also includes being a mentor at Inspiring the Future, a UK national program that connects employers to students in schools and colleges to help them along their journey to a job, career or educational route.

Elizabeth Pears

Freelance News & Features Writer

Elizabeth Pears is a freelance news and feature writer based in London. She studied journalism at Brunel University and she has been a new editor for The Voice, Britain’s only black newspaper, and currently she is the website’s News Editor for BuzzFeed UK. She has also contributed to the Power List, an annual magazine profiling the most influential black people in Britain.She specialises in news editing, features editing, managing people and digital platforms, breaking news, feature writing, court reporting, race in Britain, criminal justice and young people.

Cllr Muhammed Butt

Leader Brent Council

Cllr Butt – born at Central Middlesex Hospital and a former pupil of Oakington Manor Primary School, Alperton Community School and Kilburn Polytechnic, has been a Councillor for 12 years now.

In 2012, he replaced the former leader of the Council, Ms John and said " “To be the leader of Brent Council is an honour. I’ve grown up here and the people I care about live here. I want to deliver the best for everyone."

Brent Council is one of the largest Councils in London and home to the iconic Wembley Stadium. It is also running one of the largest regeneration programmes in Britain with a focus on improving the homes and social environment of the poorest areas in the Borough.   


Sandra Brown-Pinnock


Sandra Brown-Pinnock is an entrepreneur and owner of Xsandy’s a Uk’s hair extensions brand and retail chain that is raising the bar within the Afro hair and beauty world. Being the only female, African-Caribbean retailer in South East London, she is using her business as a tool to empower other within the community to embrace enterpreneurship.     For over 15 years she worked in mental health care in te public sector. After that, moving to the private sector, she opened a social care organisation to facilitate the rehabilitation of mental health patients back into society. During eight years managing eleven homes, her role was instrumental as consultant to senior commissioners and placement officers, enabling them to assist thousands of clientes towards complete independent living.     In 2008 she embarked on a new journey manufacturing a successful line of hair extensions. Noting the lack of product knowledge she turned into a business woman and opened her first retail store.    She has recently won “Business Start-Up of the Year” and shortlisted for a “Precious Award”. Sandra hopes that sharing her experience will encourage others to embark on an entrepreneurial journey impacting positively the economic and social status of the community at large. 

Cynthia V Davis


Cynthia V Davis is the co-founder and CEO at “BAME Recruitment Ltd”.The aim of “BAME Recruitment Ltd” is to help organisations to better reflect our diverse society.    After studying to be a fashion designer, she went into the recruitment industry, having observed the shortcomings regarding diversity and inclusion of this industry, 18 years later she founded her own recruitment company. She has a thrive to help organisations become properly diverse and inclusive.     Her work has been widely awarded, having won the 2017 Entrepreneur award given by “We are the city”, Influencer of the year 2018 from “International Divas of Colour Awards” and the Professional Business Women of the Year 2016 fro “ZIWA AWARDS”

Junior Smart

Team Leader

Junior Smart is a team leader and founder of the Southwark Offenders Support (SOS), a project which aims to turn young criminals and gang members away from crime.    Over the past number of years with support from St Giles he has led the SOS Project to expansion and developed dynamic approaches to working with not only young people but communities as a whole. This has led to a dramatic decrease in re-offending rates, from nearly 1000 clients they have served just 20% have been recalled compared against the national average of 75%.     His passion working in the field of education, training and youth work comes from his own personal experience with the justice system, which has made him determined to help and inspire young people caught up in negative cycles to find positive and constructive ways to rebuild their lives. He works to transform misconceptions of young people criminalised and marginalised in society by developing new approaches, teaching and supporting methods that create a positive social impact.  

Jackee Holder

Leadership Coach

Jackee Holder, based in London, is an executive leadership coach, reflective practitioner and a published author of “49 Way to write yourself well”, “Soul Purpose” and “Be your own best life coach”. She works nationally and internationally with teams and individuals and has supported and contributed to the development of hundreds of individuals to enrich and transform their lives. Jackee loves training coaches and offering one on one and team coaching. She really enjoys her work supporting writers and creative entrepreneurs and also encouraging reflective writing and journalism for women leaders.

Trishna Bharadia


Trishna Bharadia was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008. Since then she has worked tirelessly to help and support others with MS, putting aside her own health issues to help raise awareness and inspire others with the illness. She has worked particularly hard with the Asian community, being an editor of the Asian MS quarterly newsletter, where she feels the disability is often hidden away and discriminated against, as well as with young people diagnosed with MS. She writes for MS and disability-awareness magazines and speaks at local events and also at large pharmaceutical conferences about MS. 

Prishita Maheshwari-Aplin

Education Project Director

Prishita Maheshwari-Aplin is an Education Project Director at Cambridge Development Initiative. She is a young woman who is already accumulating a set of achievements in various fields.   At just 16, she was the youngest ever shortlisted candidate for a Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize. At school, she created a science blog called “Darwin’s Beard”, making current research accessible for young audiences and inspiring students to science. For this she’s been nominated by Intel for a WISE Girl award for inspiring young women in science.    She is also an elite violinist and soprano singer, having played with Chetham’s Symphony   Orchestra, performing in masterclasses with Nicola Benedetti, Viktoria Grigorieva and Madeleine Mitchell. Currently she is first violin at the Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra    She has also worked in Tanzania for two months as an Impact Evaluator for an International Education Charity, having been appointed project director for the next trip. She has also been named as one of The Independent's 'female groundbreakers of 2017'


Founder British Black

Kwaku is the founder of British Black (BBM), the Black Music Congress (BMC)(,which have been running for more than fifteen years, and the British Black Music Month (held in June). He works all year-round promoting events, he is a familiar and supportive face at gatherings held by other promotors and organisations.    Kwaku is a key player on the Black British entertainment scene, having become an expert at music business for his encyclopedic knowledge of all things musical and historical pertaining to the African and Caribbean diasporas and also for his undeniable passion for connecting and uplifting people. 

Kwaku also often holds lectures and events around Black History and recently wrote an open letter to the British Government regarding the historically incorrect recognition of the arrival of HM Windrush in England. He states the Ship actually docked on the 21st June 1948 and not the 22nd which is to be annually recognised. A retired Historian from the British Library confirms the date of arrival was 21st June.      

Toyin Agbetu

Community Activist

Toyin Agbetu is a British African social rights activist and founder in 2000 of the Pan-African group Ligali. 

Agbetu emerged on the international stage on 27 March 2007, during a Westminster Abbey church service held to recognize the 200th anniversary of Great Britain's Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 1807.. Queen Elizabeth II was in attendance at the commemorative event, which marked the British government's decision to end the Atlantic Slave Trade, although slavery in British colonies would continue until 1834. In a dramatic display, Agbetu slipped past security guards at the 2007 service and strode into the open area in front of the church altar, standing three metres away from the queen and shouting that the service was an insult to those of African heritage. In subsequent interviews he called the service a self-congratulatory exercise for those who promote oppression and those who continued to prevent the social and intellctual freedom of oppressed peoples. As reported in major media, he yelled at the queen: "'You should be ashamed. We should not be here. This is an insult to us. I want all the Christians who are Africans to walk out of here with me!'" He was wrestled to the floor by security guards and removed from the church. Subsequently, a storm of media interest erupted, much of it negative. The Crown Prosecution Service advised that no charges be brought against him. Agbetu himself later explained in The Guardian what happened from his perspective: I was moved to make a collective voice heard at the commemorative ritual of appeasement and self-approval marking the bicentenary of the British parliamentary act to abolish what they disingenuously refer to as a "slave trade". The "Wilberfest" abolition commemoration has eradicated any mention of resistance, rebellion and revolution instigated by millions of African people. ... I stood up with my arms raised in a gesture of nonviolence and said "Not in our name" to Dr Rowan Williams, who was attempting to lead the congregation, which included a number of African people, to their knees to beg God's forgiveness for slavery. I went to the Queen and said that in the history of the Maafa, the British are the Nazis - but where the Germans had the humanity and humility to apologise and make reparations for the Holocaust, she, in not doing so, shames not only herself but her nation. I then turned to Tony Blair and told him he ought to feel ashamed for his behaviour. Blair quickly averted his gaze. The rest of what I said was directed to the members of my own community who were present. I don't believe it was right for us to have remained in a venue in which the British monarchy, government and church - all leading institutions of African enslavement during the Maafa - collectively refused to atone for their sins. Then a gang of men attempted to drag me out through the back door on my knees. I strongly asserted that I would be walking through the front door, on my feet, as an African. 

From late 2007, Agbetu wrote a weekly column called "Nyansapo" for the New Nation newspaper, and in 2009 started a weekly interactive community radio program called the Pan African Drum. He is also the author of publications that include Ukweli - A Political and Spiritual Basis for Pan Africanism (2010),Revoetry - Poems from an African British Perspective (2010) and The Manual: The Rules for Men (2002). Having founded in 2000 the Ligali Organisation, with the aim of challenging negative media representations of the African British community, Agbetu in 2010 resigned as the head of Ligali to become its curator-administrator. while continuinges to strive for a Pan-African voice for the oppressed. Ligali is described on its website ( as "a Pan African, human rights focused, non-profit voluntary organisation. We work for the socio-political and spiritual empowerment of African people with heritage direct from Africa or indirectly via African diasporic communities, such as those in the Caribbean and South America."

 Among Agbetu’s additional initiatives are "The Stuff You Should Know", a project aimed at informing young people of their rights, the "No N Word" campaign (focusing on stopping the rampant use and negative reclamation of the "n word" in media and social institutions), and support for establishing a national "African Remembrance Day".

Ratna Dutt OBE

Former Chief Executive (Retired)

Ratna Dutt, OBE  now retired, has dedicated her life to social work, specifically her social work has been aimed to achieving race equality. She had led the Race Equality Foundation in London for nearly 30 years, she has been a qualified social worker and chair of adoption panels.  Her field of expertise has been developed not only around race equality, but specially in the social care field. She has authored and co-authored several articles and publications in the field of social work and black communities. Her experience in generic and specialist social work have include advising on policy implementation of services to black and ethnic minority families.

Sharon Thompson


Sharon Thompson is a Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods at Birmingham City Council. She has a wide experience working with local communities, it began with a voluntary position with a local residents association. She became the first tenant to gain work experiences with Optima Community Association, followed by full time employment at its housing office. Her passion for community engagement and social justice has led her to many opportunities.     She talks on radio, at events and seminars often, mainly discussing community engagement and public life, speaking honestly to a range of audiences.    Previously employed by Birmingham City Council, she was the youngest member on her team to manage community buildings. She secured from this position various pots of funding, mentored local groups, led and engaged in collaborative work on community cohesion, consultation and research projects. After this she has gone onto becoming a magistrate and community leader with an active role in politics, becoming a Councillor for North Edgbaston Ward. 

Zanaib Atta

Financial Crime Compliance Manager

Zanaib Atta  is a London based Financial Crime Compliance (FCC) professional with Financial Services industry experience focused on maintaining FCC frameworks to support risk mitigation and a culture of FCC risk awareness.    Besides her financial experience and daily job she pursues other passions, having held a range of roles at various charities. One of such roles is as Chief Operating Officer at “Career Masterclass” where she supports the aim of giving women and BAME professionals a fighting foot by organising events and Masterclasses to improve and interpersonal skills. She is passionate about fairness and equity issues faced by women and BAME proffesionals in the workplace. She has been recognised for her hard work and dedication encouraging diversity and inclusion, being rewarded with the WeAreTheCity “Rinsing Star Award” in the banking category. 

David Shosanya


David Shosanya is a reverend who has been Regional Minister and Director of the London Baptist Association since 2003. From his position, his main duties include encouraging and supporting churches in their community engagement, community development, civic life and mission activities.    He is the founder and director of The Ministers Appreciation Ball, which offers a series of premium bespoke events to create opportunities for churches, para church agencies, charities and individuals to express their appreciation of staff. He also founded in 2009 “The State of Black Britain Symposium”, an annual conference that creates the space for dialogue between all sections of African and Caribbean communities across the UK.     David Shosanya is a public speaker and works on strategic relationships mainly facing religion and race issues, also writing articles for magazines such as "keep the faith”. 

Eche Egbuonu


Eche Egbuonu is a Teacher based in London who has appeared to be an adaptable professional with experience across the private and third sector organisations. He has also succeeded in areas that include sales, teaching, ICT and project management.     He is a project manager at REPSOC, a health and wellness social enterprise committed to repairing the mind, body and soul of the diaspora. This enterprise addresses these issues through events, education, workshops and media.     His experience in the areas of education, youth work and community organising includes delivering sessions in primary schools, secondary schools, colleges, youth clubs, and to adults in profesional settings.

Comfort Nsek

Trainee Solicitor

Comfort Nsek is a Nigerian born Trainee Solicitor specialising in Employment Law. She is also a popular Afro hair blogger and stylist. Comfort is passionate about seeing individuals and businesses achieve their objectives, having decided on a career in law since she was 10.     As an African woman with afro hair, she is often asked why she chooses to wear her hair out in a profession that may not be tolerating with it. This is exactly the reason why she decided to share her experience via social media, to remind other women that they can be themselves and be appreciated for the skills they bring to their industry. Coming from a family of Hair stylist she has been taught by her mother since she was a child and now she enjoys sharing her skills. Comfort also finds time to network, do charity work, mentor, travel and do photography.

Chrisann Jarrett

Policy Advisor

Chrisann Jarrett, based in London, has recently become a policy advisor. She is also the founder of an equal access to higher education campaign called “Let Us Learn”.     She decided to create this campaign after being forced to take a gap year because her immigration status prevented her from being eligible for student finance. “Let Us Learn” was created with the aim of changing the secondary legislation that prevented young ambitious migrants from starting their degrees. Her campaigning efforts  and work with barristers and lawyers led to a change in the law which has benefitted to hundreds of young people.     Chrisann continues to campaign in order to broaden access to higher education, working full time on her Let us Learn campaign. Her efforts have already been widely recognised, she was shortlisted for a Liberty Human Right Award in 2015, named Young Woman of the Year 2015, Number 1 Future Leader by the Powerlist Magazine 2015/2016.

Craig Pinkney

Criminologist, Urban Youth Specialist, Lecturer

Craig Pinkney is a Criminologist, Urban Youth Specialist, Lecturer and a Director of “Real Action UK” a charitable outreach organisation based in Birmingham which specialises in working with disaffected youth. Academically Craig holds a BA (Hons) in Youth and Community Development, PG Cert in Teaching and Learning, a Master’s Degree in Criminology and he is undertaking his PhD in Social Science.     Craig has over 14 years experience as an outreach worker, transformational speaker, gang exit strategist, mediator, mentor and filmmaker. He is well known for working with the cities most challenging young people, potentially high-risk offenders, victims of gang violence and youth who are deemed as hard to reach.    Through mentoring, discussion, advocacy, sport, media, film and faith based interventions, he believes giving a platform to young people car raise attainment and help to promote positive social change.     He also lectures full time at University College Birmingham, specialising in youth violence, urban street gangs, extremism, trauma and black men’s desistance, and is part of the EU Gangs Project.

Sabbiyah Pervez

Communities Reporter

Sabbiyah Pervez is a Communities Reporter based in Leeds. She always had a passion for politics and local community, which made her start blogging and writing whilst at University. Having spent her summers in Kashmir she can confidently speak from the perspectives of two cultures.     She started working as a Broadcast Journalist for the BBC in 2014, giving her the opportunity to share her insight on stories ranging from grooming in Rotherham, to terrorism to election campaigning.     Currently she is a communities reporter and aims to serve the diverse settled and new emerging communities of Yorkshire. Finding, recording and sharing the stories of those who are part of our vast and changing society. Uncovering the issues that affect these communities and empowering them to tell their own stories through her.     Sabbiyah has three young children and juggles this with her continuing role as Communities Reporter at BBC Look North. She has been awarded for her work, with the Rising Star in Media award at the British Muslim Awards in January 2018.

Sangeeta Waldron

Public Relations

Sangeeta Waldron is a Public Relations Professional based in Enfield, London. Her career started writing speeches for a previous UK Prime Minister and Ministers, after that working at the top level with big, powerful global brands like the Economist Group, Cabinet Office, Times, Mayor of London and Cass Business School, including Charities such as Breast Cancer Campaign and Victim Support.     In 2009 she founded Serendipity PR, where she works with high-profile brands and organisations in the public, non-profit, and corporate sectors, winning awards for her work from the communications industry. She has been appointed to the Women In Enterprise Taskforce and was until recently chairman of Alternatives, London’s leading conscious well-being organisation.    She has also been a contributing editor for an international news platform, Justmeans, where she wrote on women and children, sustainability, climate change, social enterprise and social entrepreneurs. 

Nathaniel Peat

Social Entrepreneur and International Motivational Speaker

Nathaniel Peat is a social entrepreneur and international motivational speaker based in London. Nathaniel is co-founder of Gennex Solar, which provides innovative renewable energy products in Africa. He is also founded at age 25, the nonprofit organisation “The safety Box”, which uses training and development programmes with the aim of reducing youth violence and helping young people develop important skills. He is a regular television and radio commentator on youth and education.     In 2007 he was the first double award winner of the Enterprising Young Brits Awards awarded by the former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Peat was listed on the Courvoisier Observer's Future 500 Next Generation List in 2009. He was a key organiser and speaker of the first Youth Jamaica Diaspora Future Leaders Conference. In 2011 he became the first UK Future Leader Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board member to the minister responsible for Diaspora Affairs within the Jamaican Government.  In 2011 Peat received the Alumnus of the Year medal from Brunel University for outstanding achievement. Later that year he received the London Peace (DREAM) award at City Hall from former London Mayor Boris Johnson. In 2013, Peat was invited to become a fellow (FRSA) and was the winner of the UPF Youth Achievement Award.    Peat was honoured in June 2015 by Kings House where he received the Governor General Award for Excellence from Sir Patrick Allen. In 2016 he was listed in the Upstanding 100 Powerlist published by the Finnancial Times, recognised as an influential BME executive across the US, UK and Ireland. In 2017 he was listed in the UK Black Power List, 100 EMpower List published by the Financial Times and BAME Top 100 Board Index List. In 2018 he was invited to become a fellow of St George House, fellowship of leaders at Windsor Castle and was listed in the EMpower 100 (Ethnic Minority Power) List published by the Finnacial Times.

Dr Yana Johnson MBE


Dr Yana Johnson, based in London is an entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Yana Cosmetics, a cosmetic brand which specialises in multi ethnic makeup for different skin tones, for it she has been honored with an MBE for services to Cosmetics.   She also has a company, Yana London, which is a Social Enterprise that encompasses her passion for empowerment, the creative sector, public speaking, mentoring and pioneering, working with individuals and businesses  to brand themselves, identify their strengths and to achieve their goals.    She has achieved many business awards for her work and also for other vocational goals, sucha as Music Technology or songwriting. Besides her business career she also engages in Christian Mission work in her spare time and delivers the same passion to people who are less fortunate. 

Yasmeen Sariff

Children's Services Manager

Yasmeen Sharif is a Children's Services Manager working mainly in the area of West Yorkshire. She has a Bachelor’s degree on Applied Social Studies and also a diploma on Social Work, having also certificates on Management and Mediation.    The main areas she focuses on are: assessment and court work, child protection and safeguarding work, direct work with children who have experienced abuse, business development and bid/tender writing, early years, managing duty and advice work with south asian families, parenting and relationship work, intensive family support work, family support work in children's centres and within a prison setting, work with key stakeholders and service development work, contract management and monitoring.    She is also a Trustee at Healthwatch Kirklees, an independent consumer champion created to gather and represent the views of the community in Kirklees in relation to Health and Social Care. Also a Trustee at Healthwatch Calderdale, an independent charity with the aim of representing the views of children, young people and adults to the people who deliver and design health and social care services.

Toks Okeniyi


Toks Okeniyi is a consultant and currently she is the head of UK Programmes and Operations at FORWARD, a charity that works primarily with women and girls of the African diaspora communities to tackle the practice of FGM in the UK through community engagement, youth activism and advocacy.     She is a persuasive communicator, innovative, with strong personal integrity and reputation for exceeding expectations and making things happen. She serves as a catalyst for change with a commitment to improve efficiency and adopts a systematic approach to problem solving and effectively analyses results and implement solutions. She has worked effectively with people from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds and communicated ideas in clear and easy to understand terms. 

Perseverance Magaya


Perseverance Magaya is an entrepreneur, based in Southampton and founder of Ladies Let’s Talk, a talk show with the mission to bring restoration to all women. Ladies Let’s Talk is a movement created to empower, educate, motivate, inspire and transform women.     She is an aspiring motivational speaker, talk show host. She is passionate about women empowerment and she is very active on her social media platforms, and through her movement with Ladies Let’s Talk she tries to address the situations women may be overcoming in silence, creating a support network.

Onyekachi Wambu


Onyekachi Wambu was born in Nigeria in 1960 and arrived in the UK after the Biafran war. Educated in London and at the universities of Essex and Cambridge, he has worked as a journalist since 1983. He has worked extensively as a journalist and television documentary maker for the BBC, Channel 4 and PBS. A respected broadcaster and commentator on African affairs, his commentary has appeared on the BBC, CCTV, Voice of America, Press TV, TVC, and the Guardian.    Onyekachi is also the Executive Director at the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD), a charity that seeks to enhance the contributions that Africans in the diaspora make to Africa’s development.  The charity is a pioneer and innovator in the field of policy and practice of ‘diaspora and development’. AFFORD’s advocacy work has contributed to UK an international recognition of the role of the diaspora in international development, and in the subsequent initiation of new policies, programmes, funds and schemes.     His book publications include “Empire Windrush: Fifty years of writing about Black Britain” and “Under the Tree of Talking - Leadership for Change in Africa”.

Pamela Hutchinson

Head of Diversity

Pamela Hutchinson is a  based in London with more than 20 years of expertise in the subject matter across the globe from an strategic as well as an operational perspective.     Cited as one of the most respected thought leaders and vocal advocates for diversity within the private sector, she provides a pragmatic and engaging narrative which is inspiring for action leaders as well as for employees. She partners closely with HR and business leaders to facilitate the integration of Diversity and Inclusion into people and business processes and practices.     She has been awarded for her work numerous times, in 2014, she was a awarded a spot on Timewise’s Power Part Time List. The same year she was recognised by the Black British Business Award as a Financial Services Leader Finalist. In 2013, the European Diiversity Awards named her as an Inspirational Role Model of the year finalist.

Dr. Nooralhaq Nasimi

Director of Afghanistan and Central Asian Association

left Afghanistan with his young family in 1999, and in 2001 he established the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association of which he is Director. He wanted to help other refugees, so he began organising cultural events and day trips for the Afghan community in London. Since then, the organisation has flourished and developed into a vibran organisation working to free refugees and newcomers from the isolating feelings which can come with migration.     Dr. Nooralhaq Nasimi is also CEO of the European Campaign For Human Rights for the People of Afghanistan (ECHRA), where he is responsible for its strategic direction in Afghanistan and UK, managing projects with up to 7 NGO partners in the UK, EU and Afghanistan, paying special attention on the promotion of human rights in Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora.

Dr. Patrice Baptiste

Medical Doctor

Patrice Baptiste is a London based medical doctor. She is currently trying to become a General Practitioner (GP).     Dr. Baptiste is also a freelance writer, she has written for the British Medical Association (BMA), the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the Support of doctors Network, among others. She also contributes regularly to GP online discussing topics pertaining to GP training.     She has also written non-medical articles on her own website and for the Black History Month website (BHM), the Waltham Forest News and the Voice newspaper.     While she studied to become a doctor she realised how difficult it was for her to make an informed decision, this was one of the motivations that led her to launch DreamSmartTutors, an organisation that helps prospective medical students understand more about medicine as a career whilst it also aims to increase diversity within the medical profession. For creating this organisation Patrice was a finalist at the Black British Business and Parecious Awards 2016 and she won a LIFT Effects Rising Star award.

Temi Mwale

Social Entrepreneur, Educator and Campaigner

Temi Mwale is a social entrepreneur, educator and campaigner from London, England. She has been actively seeking solutions to some of the worlds most pressing issues since she was 16.     Temi is the founding director of “The 4Front Project”, a youth-led social enterprise with the aim of empowering young people and communities to live free from violence. She has created an intervention program that empowers young people to find a new path.     Her work has been recognised through many awards, being one of the youngest change makers to be recognised by Forbes Magazine, featuring in their annual list as one of the Top 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs in Europe.     She is passionate about building platforms and using film, photography, music and other creative forms to captures and showcase the resilience of marginalised communities. 

Suki Sandhu


Suki Sandhu is a recognised expert in talent, diversity and inclusion. He is an entrepreneur, founder and CEO of two businesses, Audeliss, a recruitment company and INvolve, a motherbrand sitting above OUTstanding, EMpower and HERoes, membership initiatives working respectively across LGBT+, ethnic minority and gender diversity. Through these companies he aims to make a difference by being a destination for diverse talent and the choice for clients wanting to improve the diversity of their leadership teams and boardrooms. With INvolve he delivers events, through leadership and advisory services, helping firms drive cultural change and create more inclusive workplaces.   His work has brought him awards such as “Innovator of the Year” at the 2013 European Diversity Awards and he was also named 64th in The Independent’s “Rainbow List”. He is also a Stonewall Ambassador and supports many charities including The Albert Kennedy Trust and Outright International.

Miranda Brawn

Investment Banker and Barrister

Miranda Brawn has a strong career as an investment banker and barrister, she is recognised as a leading global executive. She is responsible for the legal risk in derivatives and financial regulation at an investment bank. She is also an advisor and patron for companies charities, governments and startups. Having spoken across the globe, her professional experience and personality have made her a public speaker of the highest calibre.     She is also founder and CEO of The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation a social enterprise, for it she has won a UK Prime Minister award for making diversity history. She has been named as one of the best diversity thought leaders for race diversity.   She has been quoted in global press as part of the Top100 Women in European Finance (Financial News), most powerful women in London (CityAM), Top 10 Females changing Britain (Metro) or influential Black business people powerlist (BeMogul) among others.    Her educational background includes law, business, finance, marketing while studying Political Philosophy at Cambridge University and News Journalism at the London School of Journalism. She has also been awarded with an honorary doctorate from University of Brighton for her services to business, finance, law and diversity.

Tuaneri Akoto

Chief Executive

Tuaneri Akoto, based in London, is the founder and CEO of elevated aspirations, a company that provides formal and informal educational activities and programs for children, young people, families, adults and communities.     Additionally, he is the founder and chairman of Elevated Aspirations Charity, which is committed to capacity building communities and individuals through personal and community develpment.    He has held Chair and Vice Chair positions at the Youth Exchange Council Committee of the British Council and has sat on various committees and boards.    He has also written a chapter on social inclusion and education in the international selling book “The Right’s of the Child” and has worked as a professional journalist for “The Journal”

Vanessa Vallely OBE


Vanessa Vallely OBE is an entrepreneur based in London. She is the founder of leading women’s network, job board and website, “WeAreTheCity” and “WeAreTheCity Jobs” which serves an audience of over 200.000 women each month in the UK and India. She also co-founded the UK wide diversity network, “The Network of Networks” (TNON) which includes the heads of women’s networks from 125 FTSE firms.    Vanessa’s experience is borne from a 25 year corporate career predominantly in IT and banking operations.  Vanessa had previously held roles such as Head of Business Management, Head of Governance as well as Chief Operating Officer in IT for a leading bank. For her corporate career and contribution towards female empowerment she has been recognised by a number of award bodies.     Having also judged over 20 different awards she now runs her own annual awards programme through “WeAreTheCity” which celebrates the achievements of women under a senior management level. Vanessa also sits on the board of Cancer Research “Women of Influence”.  Vanessa left her corporate position in 2013 and now dedicates her life to her family, charities, social enterprises, youth initiatives, speaking engagements as well as for running her own enterprises. 

Bernard P Achampong

Programme Director

Bernard P Achampong is a programme director at Premier Christian Communications, he also works with BBC news on digital editorial and engagement culture. He produces audio and video content for UK media leaders including audible, BBC, ITN Productions, Breakthrough Media and The TV Collective. He also runs Ideas Genius Ltd, aimed to build brands and problem solve through Facilitation with creative projects, where he works as coach and blog editor,    He has been widely awarded for his work on Content Production, Development and Promotion.

Bijal Majithia

Business Change Manager

Bijal Majithia, based in London, works as a Business Change Manager, with a focus on diversity and inclusion. As the Hindu faith representative for EY she hosts regular events with the network as well as collaborative events with other networks.    Bijal is the Director and founder of Veda London, a non-profit organisation which shares mindfulness, meditation and wellbeing in the workplace. Veda London has attracted leading speakers on topics related to living a more spiritually focused lifestyle, having grown fast through its multiple events across the city.     She has also won an Award for her on going project “Food for the Mind, Body and Soul” in which she leads a team of 100 volunteers to serve various charitable and community projects across the UK and India. There include cooking for and feeding 9 homeless shelters, supporting an abandoned animals sanctuary, spending time at dementia care homes, collecting toys for Great Ormond street Hospital, helping at a sanctuary that serves autistic children and adults and building care packages for the homeless.    Bijal also project leads an experience she created recently called the ‘Veggie Steady Cook’ experience which aims to educate people on the benefits of a healthy and conscious diet.

Natasha Broomfield-Reid

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion consultant

Natasha Broomfield-Reid, based in Coventry, is an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion consultant. She has over 20 years of experience working within the diversity and inclusion field, and until recently, was the Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for a national charity, “Victim Support”. She has been responsible for the design and delivery of a range of diversity & inclusion consultancy and training projects for clients across the private, public and voluntary sector.    Natasha led the Victim Support organisation to achieve the ‘Leaders in Diversity’ and ‘Investors in Diversity’ accreditation from the National Centre for Diversity and the charity was the first national charity to achieve ‘Leaders in Diversity’ status. She achieved further recognition through being shortlisted in both the 2015 ‘Excellence in Diversity Awards’ and ‘National Diversity Awards’ in the ‘Diverse Company’ category and in 2016 has been shortlisted for the ‘Most Inspiring Individual of the Year’ at the National Centre for Diversity Awards.    Over the years she has gained a wealth of experience in working within the Black and Minority Ethnic communities, disabled communities including around mental health and with young people. She also set up and managed a ‘highly commended’ regional mentoring programme. Due to her skills and abilities she has been able to successfully and positively deliver diversity and inclusion programmes to the highest standard to a wide range of audiences.

Neil Mayers

Education Consultant

Neil Mayers is the founder of “Raising Black Achievement”. Relating to education, Neil has been a Head of Inclusion at Crofton School, after that a Mathematics Consultant at Harris Federation, with the target of raising the grades of underachieving black students above “C”. He is the creator of an effective tool to learn Black History “Pearls or History Calendar”, and also a founding partner of the Carthaginian Conference: a series of ‘wealth education’ lectures.    He has written “Gifted at Primary, Failing by Secondary”, which is a parenting manual packed with simple and practical tips to help black children avoid the “secondary slump”. This is also the focus of  “Raising Black Achievement” which is aimed to give parents, teachers and carers as many means of support as possible to raise their children.

Ibukun Olashore

Chief Executive

Born in Nigeria, Ibukun Olashore, now based in London, is the CEO at OBAC, organisation of Blind Africans and Caribbeans.     The organisation where she is CEO since its creation, was founded in 1988 by a group of visually impared African and Caribbean people and became a registered charity in 1994. The charity was set up to offer services to primarily people with sight loss from black and  ethnic minority backgrounds, and over the years they have included people with other sensory and physical impairments.    Her main duties include organisation development, strategy and fundraising. Her special compromise with disability, equality, diversity and human rights, have driven her to address the importance of these issues through public speaking numerous times throughout her career.

Jiten Patel

Head of Equality, Diversity and Information Rights

Jiten Patel, based in Harrow (UK), is a Head of Equality, Diversity and Information Rights at The Open University. He has made a significant impact on the education sector through his passion for diversity and inclusion.     Jiten designed and delivered an outstanding Leadership Mentoring Programme for minority groups at The Open Univerisy, and is course Author for their Centre for Continual Professional Learning and Development. Additionally Jiten has specialised in ‘Positive Action’ and mentoring, and delivered pioneering diversity training to all staff at the National College for School Leadership. Jiten developed the cutting edge ‘Aspire’ programme for BAME staff, which due to its phenomenal success was extended to reach out to staff with disabilities.     An incredible amount of endorsements showcase Jiten as a perfect example of a diversity champion. “Highly commended” for his work in the 2016 and 2017 Excellence in Diversity Awards and Winner of the 2015 Excellence in Diversity Awards “Diversity Champion of the Education Sector”.

Cheryl Phoenix

Managing Director and CEO

Cheryl Phoenix is the managing director and CEO of UK Black Links, The Black Child Agenda and managig director of The African and Caribbean Relocation and investment Summit. She is an entrepreneur who specialises in business develpment, marketing and event management.   UK Black Links is a business directory targeted at the professional African and Caribbean Business and consumer community, providing a business directory to the UK Black Community. The African & Caribbean Relocation and investment Summit has the aimed to offer those in the UK diaspora access to business and lifestyle opportunities in Africa and the Caribbean, in order to create business links.    The Black Child Agenda was set up to support young people and families who might face risk of exclusion from mainstream schools, it assists parents with legal help in Education, Immigration or Employment Laws. 

Afia Ahmed

Presenter, Writer and Researcher

Afia Ahmed is a presenter, writer and researcher based in London. She graduated with a degree in BA History, and is currently studying for a Masters at King’s College London on Education, Policy and Society.    Her areas of interest include Religion, Education, Social Mobility and Current Affairs. She has been an Undergraduate Research Assistant to PhD Candidate and Lecturer at the University of London researching into international Human Rights law, and the law of Armed Conflict.     Currently she is a researcher and presenter for the Islam Channel, providing weekly discussions on issues facing women, and political developments around the globe. Also a Secondary History Trainee. She dedicates the rest of her time to his one year old and writing on, a project created to represent muslim women. 

Keshav Singhal MBE

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Keshav has an interest in minimally invasive techniques like keyhole surgery, and needle fasciotomy for Dupuytren’s contractures. He regularly presents at Chair sessions at various conferences and has a research interest in hip biomechanics. Keshav has invented patented instruments for hip resurfacing surgery.

Nageela Yusuf

Charity Treasurer & Fundraiser

Nageela Yusuf lives in London. She is the treasurer of the British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS). This association is a registered charity that supports advanced research in the humanities and social sciences of South Asia.

In 2015, she ran the Eden Half Marathon to raise funds for Save the Children. Her concern was supporting nnocent children caught in the "midst of mindless acts of violence" as she saw it.

"Conflict is always harshest on children. Their vulnerabilitymakes them targets for exploitation and brainwashing – the impact of which couldlast a life time. They risk death, illness, abuse and exploitation on a dailybasis."

Omar Mashjari

Lawyer and Writer

Omar is the Executive Director of Adalah Yemen, the country’s first international law NGO. Omar holds a first-class Law degree, a distinction grade LL.M and is an admitted solicitor and accreditor mediator. He has experience of providing legal counsel and civil society capacity building in conflict zone.

Paramjit Gill


Paramjit is Professor of General Practice & GP at Warwick Medical School. After qualifying from Southampton University Medical School, Paramjit worked in a number of hospital and community posts before entering academic General Practice.    Before moving to Warwick Medical School, Paramjit was a Reader in Primary Care Research in the Institute of Applied Research at University of Birmingham and retains an honorary position.  Paramjit worked at Rotton Park Medical Centre, Birmingham for 18 years and the practice was rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission . He is now a part-time GP at Priory Gate Practice, Coventry.

Diptiben Bharat Mistry

Charity Worker

Diptiben was born in Surat, India and came to the UK in 1989. She is currently living in Leicester.    Diptiben has over 25 years of experience in working for the community. She has held several keys positions in the ‘Not for Profit Organisations’ like VISTA Society for the Blind, SEWA Education aid project, Leicester Hindu Festival Council, Gujarat Hindu Association and Shree Sanatan Mandir.    She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry and Graduation in Library and Information Science and is also a qualified Guide Communicator (specialised qualification to work with deaf and blind people in the UK). At Bhaarat Welfare Trust, Diptiben oversee the entire executive functions such as strategy resource mobilization, communication and fundraising event management.    Diptiben brings enormous experience and expertise to Bhaarat Welfare Trust.  She is relentlessly driven to alleviating poverty through BWT’s projects on Zero Hunger, Education Aid, Homeless and Helpless in India.    Passionate about making the significant difference to social issues like poverty, animal welfare, women empowerment, medical aid for disadvantaged, support for disabled & frail and Education for children. Asking the public for their support via promoting the charity and its goal. Her efforts helped thousands in the UK and abroad. She is kind, caring, hardworking person who has dedicated her life to serve the community without any expectation including financial.

Jagtar Singh Dhindsa


Jagtar  came to the UK in 1973 aged 10. The next few years shaped Jagtar’s thinking as he experienced racism and migrant related discrimination from a young age. He always stood up to bullies and those displaying attitudes and beliefs that are not compliant with an equal and fair society. He was educated at a comprehensive school and went on to successfully complete an engineering apprenticeship with Rolls Royce. It is at Rolls Royce that Jagtar got his first flavour of being elected as a shop steward with his union. Jagtar then joined the prison service as an instructional officer involved in the rehabilitation of prisoners through teaching life learning skills. He has been an elected Councillor for the past 23 years and during this time held important roles such as the Leader of his group, a four-member cabinet portfolio holder. Jagtar recently became the Chairman (Civic Mayor) of  Watford Borough Council. He stood as a candidate as elected mayor in Watford during 2014.  He is an active and dedicated trade unionist and currently holds the role of Branch Assistant Secretary.

Baldip Singh Aulak


Baldip is a very passionate and fearless advocate known for fighting the corner of the underdog inside and outside of court. He undertakes pro bono work on a case-by-case basis. Baldip runs various legal clinics within the community in Birmingham and the East and West of London. Baldip Heads the Legal Department for the ‘Sikh Help Line’ assisting the community with legal issues from discrimination at work to sexual grooming. He is regularly invited to give talks relating to the law and issues affecting minorities at Gurdwaras, Temples and Universities across the UK.    Baldip has recently returned to the UK after a legal tour of India where he was invited to lecture at two prestigious universities in India on the ‘English Legal System’ and ‘ Administrative law’. He also visited a number of Bar Associations around India giving talks on ‘The importance of an Independent Judiciary’ and ‘Collecting Best Evidence’.

Elizabeth Njenga

Social Worker

Elizabeth lives in High Wycombe. She is a social worker representative from the The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) England committee. BASW is the largest professional association for social work in the UK, with offices in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It promotes the best possible social work services for all people who may need them, while also securing the well being of social workers.    Elizabeth Njenga is one of the judges for Social Worker of the Year Awards 2017 for the categories "Best Social Work Employer" and "Championing Social Work Values".

Dr JS Bamrah CBE


Dr J S Bamrah CBE is the Medical Director of Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust. He has worked as a Consultant Psychiatrist for the Trust since 2001, having previously worked 12 years at Trafford. Dr Bamrah was appointed Interim Medical Director in July 2013 and then to the subtantive post in February 2014.    He is also Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester. He has trained and worked at several hospitals in Greater Manchester since 1981, and held senior positions in the BMA and the Royal College of Psychiatrists for over two decades.

The Manhood Academy for Boys

Rites of Passage: Transforming Boys to Men

Co-created in 2016. Each director previously holding a distinguished track record in youth & community work, from BAFA award winning educators, workers in educational institutes to working on the streets of London with youth from diverse communities.

The Manhood Academy for Boys is a Cultural Rites of Passage programme designed, with the intention of exposing the youth to character building experiences, tests of mental and physical fortitude and specifically created critical thinking workshops.

This is geared towards the shifting young people's paradigm.

Bringing about an empowerment, that enables them to take responsibility for the decisions that set the course for their future.

For boys from 8 - 12 years of age &  young men 13 – 19.

100% focused on aiding our boys, make the challenging transition from boyhood to Manhood.


*For more details:*


*fb:* manhood academy

*ig:* @manhoodacademy

Carol Akiwumi

Fundraising Specialist, Trainer & Inspirational Speaker

Carol has a passion for Truth and Justice. Having started out her career as an investment banker, she brought her skills and experience to bear as a Senior Manager and Consultant to several national and international charities. Her expertise includes setting strategy, developing high level partnerships with key Individuals, Community groups and Corporates.    Carol currently serves as the Chair of Black Fundraisers UK, a special interest group of the Institute of Fundraising (IOF), UK. She is a Fellow of the IOF and a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, USA. She has an MA in Economics and Finance from the University of Leeds and is the founder of Money4Youth, an award winning innovative training programme for children and young people that equips them with life skills to handle money, manage finances and budget effectively.

Robbie Williams

Vice Chair

Robbie has been a board member of Steve Biko Housing Association since October 2012 and is currently Vice Chair. His working background is maintenance and has over 30 years’ experience of repairs and maintenance for both the local authority and social housing in the Meyerside area.    Robbie's current position is Assistant Neighbourhood Services Manager for the Riverside Group. Robbie is also chair of the Riverside BME Staff Group and has been an active member for 14 years. He is also a workplace rep for Unite the union within the Riverside Group and also an Equality Rep and a member of the Unite Regional BAEM committee. 

Ranjit Sond


Ranjit is an experienced solicitor specialising in personal injury law. He qualified in 1999 and has since developed an expertise in dealing with a wide range of employers’ and public liability claims including manual handling, falls from height, injuries caused by dangerous machinery and slips, trips and falls. He also has a special interest in sports injury claims and claims involving animals.    He has been a mentor to LLB students at the University of Derby since 2011 where he also regularly attends to give careers talks to students.    When not at work, Ranjit’s interests include good food, music and football. He holds the FA Level 1 Coaching qualification and has previously been involved with coaching and managing under 14’s and under 8’s football teams. Having been born and raised in East London, he supports his local team, West Ham United.

Tunji Akintokun MBE

Business Leader

Tunji is an experienced and multi-award winning business leader in internet and communications related technologies. He combines a strategic thinking approach with seasoned sales experience that allows him to evolve visions and strategies into initiatives that can be executed upon and measured for success.     Mr Tunji Akintokun has dedicated his life to mentoring children from disadvantaged backgrounds and inspiring them to pursue their dreams. He grew up an orphan in east London but it was not until IBM visited his school for a career fair that he decided to pursue a career in technology. He now mentors children from disadvantaged backgrounds and created a project called ‘Your Future, Your Ambition’. YFYA introduces students in Key stages 2 to 5 and above to exciting career paths in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM subjects).

Daniel Lister


Daniel lives in London. He has been working tirelessly for over 20 years to improve the conditions of Africans and the diaspora globally.     Daniel has an extensive background from travelling the country as Business and Personal Development Speaker and Coach, to Law, Finance, Media, Marketing and Sales. He is a Best-Selling International Author, co-authoring ‘Multiple Streams of Inspiration Vol. 2’ with Les Brown, voted in the top 3 speakers in the world; billed as ‘A collection from some of the sharpest minds of our time’. He is currently the Founder and Managing Director of My Black Market, a company dedicated to Supporting Black Owned Businesses and their Customers to Build a Black UK Economy through networking resources, people and information, while promoting businesses and their owners to create experts within the community and inspire future entrepreneurs.    He is also the Founder and Brand Manager at Buy Black Clothing, a Fashion and Lifestyle Brand dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship within the Black community while redefining the Black imaging as positive and aspirational. The brand has sold in the UK, Europe, America and Asia.

Zubaida Haque

Research Consultant

Zubaida is a Research Consultant at The Runnymede Trust. She has experience working in several government departments as well as think tanks, academic institutions, national Commissions and the voluntary sector. She has strong analytical research skills, project management experience and managing research contractors. Examples of areas she has worked in: removing barriers for ethnic minorities in the labour market; reducing negative outcomes for BME men in prisons; raising educational attainment among lower achieving groups (white and BME); reviewing race riots; integration of new migrants; engaging Muslim communities; extremism and hate crime; behavioural trials (RCTs) and customer insight in DECC and Ofgem. She has also written speeches for Ministers and peers on a variety of public policy issues.

Darren Chetty


Darren lives in London, where is currently completing his PhD at UCL Institute of Education, where he teaches on the BA Education Studies course. He taught in primary schools for almost 20 years. He is the author of the award-winning paper 'The Elephant in the Room: Picturebooks, Philosophy for Children and Racism'.

Dayo Olukoshi OBE


Dr Dayo Olukoshi OBE is the current Executive Principal of Brampton Manor Academy in East Ham, London. He has been honoured an OBE for services to education. He has helped transform the secondary school. For example, in 2015 ,at least 5 of Brampton Manors' sixth form pupils got accepted into Oxford or Cambridge. The academy saw nearly 90 per cent of students achieve A* to B grades with nearly 60pc getting As or A*s.

Buddhdev Pandya MBE


Buddhdev is a journalist living in Milton Keynes. He publishes 'Gujarat Times UK' magazine for the professionals and people in public life within the Indian diaspora and key -movers and shakers in India.     He leads an international "The INNOVATION Forum" for the medical professionals involved in managing patient care and relevant technology to share examples of good practice and promote achievements globally. His next publication Innovation 360degree is expected to be released in due course.     Buddhdev Pandya MBE is Director of British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, a national body that he had helped to establish 20 years ago. He helped developed and published 'The Physician' its medical journal. He was Chief editor of Asain Lite, an award winning ethnic publication and regular contributor to political, social and other columns in many newspapers.

Candice Carty-Williams


Candice lives in South London in a flat comprising almost entirely of books.    Candice was born in 1989, the result of an affair between a Jamaican cab driver who barely speaks and a Jamaican-Indian dyslexic receptionist who speaks more than anyone else in the world.  Candice studied Media at Sussex because her sixth form teachers said that she wasn’t clever enough to do English, but she showed them all by first working at the Guardian Guide and then moving into publishing at 23.    Candice has worked on marketing literary fiction, non-fiction and graphic novels ever since; her first highlight was interviewing David Cronenberg and telling him that if she were a white man she’d like to look like him. In response he called her a ‘delightful person’. In 2016, Candice created and launched the Guardian and 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize, a prize that aims to find, champion and celebrate black, asian and minority ethnic writers.

Abha Thorat-Shah

Programmes & Investments Director

Abha has been a member of the founding team at the Trust and continues to be part of the Senior Management Team focussing on driving the growth of the Trust’s charitable investments in South Asia and the UK.    At the Trust, she has developed a unique grant giving model that helps to connect donors directly with the work of grassroots NGOs in the region. Her extensive practical knowledge of networks in the private and public sectors, particularly in India and the UK, has forged key partnerships for the Trust.    In her previous role she was part of the founding team at the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) and rose to become its Chief Operating Officer. Both roles at the Trust and UKIBC display her passion for creating and nurturing business, cultural and social relationships between UK and South Asia. Abha discovered this passion when she began her career in the world of reinsurance before making the transition from the financial sector into social cause-led ventures.    Abha has a keen interest for the theatre and the arts and has worked at Asia House, London and the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai. Abha grew up in India and holds a BA Hons from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. She came to the UK in 1999 on a Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholarship to read Social and Political Sciences at Hughes Hall, Cambridge.

Councillor Mohammed Aikhlaq MBE


Mohammed Aikhlaq MBE has been a Labour Councillor for the Bordesley Green Ward in Birmingham since 2010 and is  Chairman of  the Councils' Corporate Resources and Governance Overview & Scrutiny Committee. He is also Chair of Governors at  Leigh Primary School in Birmingham. Mohammed was awarded an MBE in the 2017 Queens New Year Honours List for services to Education  (Birmingham, West Midlands).

Councillor Aikhlaq has been the Chair for Leigh Primary School for  15 years. He oversees the strategic planning of the school, he’s involved with the leadership of the school and on a day-to-day basis .

25 years later, the school in Dadyal is still providing a safe and nurturing environment for the children in the local village, which Cllr Aikhlaq regularly visits.

His regular efforts with the school include supplying educational equipment for the students, as well as furniture and whiteboards.

Cllr Aikhlaq’s first venture into the field of education began whilst living in a remote village in Dadyal, Pakistan. He said: “It all started way back in 1991; I was living in a remote village and on my way home one day, I saw children being educated under a tree and sitting on the floor. I went straight home and told my father ‘I want to build classrooms for kids.’”

With thanks also to Asian World News for the above information

Councillor Asher Craig

Deputy Mayor

Councillor Asher Craig is the Deputy Mayor of Bristol, with the portfolio of Communities, Equalities and Public Health.


Cllr Craig has over 30 years experience as a community activist, leader, management consultant and now politi- cian. She has championed the needs of the voice-less, with a particular emphasis on the social-economic development of BME and under-represented communities.

She has led and chaired a number of major partnerships and organisations at local, regional and national level and has worked in the field of employment & training, education & skills, recruitment, advocacy, equality & diversity within local government and third sector.

Ms Craig was elected as the Labour councillor for the ward of St George West, Bristol in May 2016 and was appointed to the cabinet with the wide reaching portfolio of neighbourhoods in August 2016.


In March 2017 she was asked to step into the new role of deputy mayor – communities, bringing into and elevating the issue of public health within this new portfolio.

Cllr Craig is also a school governor, the proud mother of three daughters and follows the Rastafari faith.

With thanks to for the above biography and photograph.


Marie Hanson MBE

Charity Worker

Marie Hanson MBE,  a former Conservative member of Wandsworth Council, was made an Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2015 as a mark of her work with the charity STORM (Support, Trust, Opportunity, Rebuilding, Motivation).

She described herself as "humbled, honoured and proud" to receive the honour.

Marie Hanson, set up the charity in 2004, after a career in make-up and beauty therapy, to help single parents and immigrants among others across the borough. She said: "I started the charity in 2004 after receiving domestic violence and escaping from my partner.I set up the charity to empower other woman.Because I'm dyslexic and have a management degree, I wanted to show people that they could do it."

Marie Hanson said she wants to use her own life experiences to show people that their situations should not hold them back in the future. 

STORM provides free literacy and numeracy classes, a job shop, and a help line to get single parents into work. She also provides similar support to immigrants and victims of domestic violence.

Wandsworth Council expanded her premises around four years ago in order to expand the operation and her annual Peace Concert is sponsored by Wandsworth Police.

Brian Dickens OBE


Brian Dickens is a a former director of the North Lambeth and North Southwark Sport Action Zone, and currently Community Development Advisor and Trustee for the Black Prince Trust.

He once represented Great Britain internationally in 400-metre athletics and since 2002 Dickens had run London's only Sport Action Zone, working to improve health and fitness amongst young people in Southwark and Lambeth by getting them involved in sporting activities. He was a major advocate of improving the lives of low income communities through sport and has helped many individuals and orgnisations improve life chances through sport.

As a result of this dedicated work in 2008, Brian Dickens was awarded an MBE for outstanding contribution to community sports in London, as well as dedication to raising awareness nationally of how sport and physical activity can be effectively used as a catalyst for social inclusion and community cohesion.

In 2009, he was appointed Community Sport Adviser to the Mayor’s Commissioner for Sport , Kate Hoey MP.

In 2010, he was appointed by Nike, Care International and the UN Development Programme to be the convenor of the London wide Sport for Social Change Network a global initiative which uses sport to bring about a social change.

In 2014, he was nominated as a Baton Bearer for the Commonwealth Games

Paul Reid

Suffragan Bishop

Suffragan Bishop Paul Reid is the Senior Pastor and founder of Grace Tabernacle Christian Ministries, a fast growing Christian fellowship in the heart or the community in Thornton Heath, Croydon.

Pastor Reid's call to the ministry was prophetically announced at 17, and he was appointed to the ministry at age 18, making him the youngest minister in the organisation. He was greatly influenced by his father Reverend Joseph Reid and his mother, the late Evangelist Corletta Reid. It was his mother, Evangelist Reid, who "rebuked death", when he almost died at age eight from an attack of bronchitis. With his brothers and sisters crying, recognising that death had come for their brother, his mother wrestled all night in prayer and repelled "Death's attack, until the breakthrough came in the morning.

Amrit Kaur Lohia

Performer and Workshop Facilitator

Born in Tottenham, raised in Edmonton (London, UK) Amrit Kaur Lohia is a Sarangi player and vocalist in genres of Punjabi Folk, Jazz and Soul. She learns Sarangi from Shri Surjeet Singh, senior student of Sarangi maestro Pandit Ram Narayan. She also plays Mbira (Zimbabwe) and Dilruba. Based in London, she tours internationally as a performer, composer and workshop facilitator. She is a youth worker, mentoring youth offenders and children in foster care. She is also the founder of ‘’, a social enterprise dedicated to humanising history and social issues through the Arts, which was awarded the UnLtd ‘Do it Award’ in 2016. As well as this, she is an ambassador for several charities and is currently a Global Youth Ambassador for ‘A World at School’. Amrit has also trained as a theatre director at the Young Vic Theatre and recently graduated with a Distinction in MA History, specialising in South Asia, from the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Tab Ahmad

Managing Director

Ahmad is the founder and managing director of EmployAbility. Set up in 2006, EmployAbility works with disabled students and graduates to ease the transition from education to employment; and with top global employers, to help them become more disability inclusive. Ahmad’s work has changed the lives of thousands of disabled students. With 20-plus years’ of experience, her pioneering work has been vital in increasing disability awareness among employers.

Shahida Choudhry

Social Worker

Shahida Choudhry is a campaigner and social worker from Birmingham. She has set up Women’s Networking Hub in 2009, with the aspiration of working collectively with women activists and change makers, with the intention of eradicating gender inequality in all its forms. Having escaped a forced marriage that took place in Pakistan, she personally understands the problems surrounding violence against women. She has a varied work, which has included networking events using the arts as means of engaging with women, and raising awareness of sensitive and highly critical issues, such as forced marriage, FGM, and domestic violence.

Samsunear Ali

Deputy Chief Executive

Samsunear Ali is deputy chief executive at Bawso, an all-Wales, Welsh government accredited support provider, delivering specialist services to people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds who are affected by domestic abuse and other forms of abuse. She is passionate about her work, which makes a difference to some of the most vulnerable women in society. She has overcome cultural barriers and personal challenges and continuously strives to achieve and motivate others to enhance their lives.

Ahmereen Reza

Country Director

Ahmereen Reza is the Country Director of Aman Foundation UK and is the founder of Developments in Literacy Trust UK, a registered charity in England and Wales dedicated to educating children in underdeveloped and rural areas of Pakistan and assisting women from within multi-ethnic communities in England and Wales.

Thirty years ago, as an architect, Reza decided to channel her passion for advocacy and community participation to improve the lives of the world’s underprivileged. Her belief, that sustainable solutions come through direct interaction has led her to live with squatter settlements, photograph the state of “black housing” in communist Yugoslavia and visit schools in Taliban areas. She established DIL Trust UK, where her commitment to literacy has rallied support for young girls in Pakistan. She has a passion and drive to help under -privileged communities to help themselves. Ahmereen strongly believes in being and making ‘Agents of Change’.

Kirit Mistry

Local BME Facilitator

Kirit Mistry works with Derby Hospitals Organ Donation Committee to raise awareness of organ donation in Derby Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, He is a Risk Assessor and BME Community Champion for Diabetes UK and Community Champion for Kidney Research UK. Kirit has been awarded by Diabetes UK in their 2013 Inspire Awards the Raising Awareness Award for work in South Asian Communities as part of the Celebrating Excellence in Volunteering. He has worked as Executive Director of Derby Racial Equality Council providing services towards the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of equality of opportunity. He was founder of Derby Community Health Equality Panel to assess NHS Trusts in Derbyshire on their Equality Delivery System, Derby BME Network. and in his role chaired and was founder of Derby Community Health Equality Panel to assess NHS Trusts in Derbyshire on their Equality Delivery System, Derby BME Network and now has developed Derby Diverse Patients and Communities Health Network to empower diverse patients to get equitable services. He is very committed to addressing inequality issues on a local, regional, national European and international level. Kirit is a board member for Voice4Change England a national voice for BME voluntary and community organisations.

Merium Bhuiyan


Merium Bhuiyan founded CakeFace Make up, a personalised lifestyle and beauty service operating across the UK and Middle East, for this service she is the director, makeup artist and consultant. She believes in empowerment and defining own standards of success. Merium strives to enhance both inner and outer beauty in a fast-moving and ever-changing world. She does this by using her brand as an uplifting tool to reach out to women around the world and to educate and inspire communities. Merium has also a big interest in promoting diversity and empowering others through her private teaching of English and Maths. She is a trustee of the Holloway Educational and Cultural Centre and a Board Member of the Axis Supplementary Schools Committee. On her free time she gives back to the community consulting for several charities.

Rabina Khan

Councillor, Writer and Community Worker.

Rabina Khan is a Bangladeshi-born British writer, politician, councillor for Shadwell, community worker and author of “Ayesha’s Rainbow”, a children’s book that explores racism, prejudice and stereotyping young Muslims experience in Britain. She has Edited anthologies and produced and advised on a range of media projects, also has worked with organisations such as BBC, ITV, Heritage, Rich Mix, the Wellcome Trust, Channel 4, The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Arts Council. Her focus is on challenging perceptions of women and advancing the cause of Muslim women in politics and public affairs. She is a strong advocate for migrants rights, welfare rights, disability rights and working to end structures of prejudice that affect the whole society. She became a councillor for Shadwell Ward in 2010 and she was Cabinet Member for Housing. She has been awarded with the Tower Hamlets Civic Award, the Hero of the Year European Diversity Award and was nominated for the European Muslim Woman of Influence Award in 2009.

Samir Jeraj


Samir Jeraj is a Journalist with a focus on housing and social issues. He has been a Green Party Councillor in Norwich from 2008 to 2012. Currently he is a Policy and Practice Officer at the Race Equality Foundation, assisting the policy and practice team on a number of projects, including the Department of Health Strategic Partners program, and de National Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Transplant Alliance (NBTA).

Shamim Azad

Poet and Writer

Shamim Azad is a Bangladeshi-born British poet, storyteller and writer. She does performances that combine education and entertainment and workshops rooted in Asian folk, oral tradition and heritage. She has published several books, including novels, collections of short stories, essays and poems in English and Bengali. She has also written two plays for Half Moon Theatre and worked with composers Richard Blackford and Kerry Andrew. She has performed in many venues including de Museum of London, Cambridge Water Stone, Liberty Radio, Battersea Arts Centre, British Council of Bangladesh, Takshila in Pakistan and New York. She is a trustee of charity One World Action and Rich Mix in Bethnal Green. Shamim is school governor and chairperson of Bishwo Shahitto Kendro in London. She is also part of a Story telling group in Eastend, which invites local residents to share stories brought up by its diverse history of immigration.

Stella Opoku-Owusu

Engagement and Capacity Manager

Taher Ali Qassim MBE

Public Health Manager

Taher Ali Qassim is a public health manager with a Yemeni origin. In yemen he used to be a goat shepherd, but after arriving in Liverpool in 1995 he has become a public health manager of the citiy, dedicate to improving health in Liverpool by improving housing and education. His been awarded with and MBE for his work on funding the Black and Racial Minorities Network, created to mediate between parents and schools as well as to set up housing and health improvement projects.

Anntoinette Bramble

Deputy Mayor

Anntoinette Bramble is a  Deputy Mayor and also the Cabinet Member for Children Services, Young People and Education at Hackney Council. She has been a councillor in Hackney since 2010.  She is leading on a programme for  Improving outcomes for young black men part of the Windrush roundtable 70th celebrations and legacy discussions. As well as being a volunteer at the homeless shelter scheme at St John’s, Anntoinette chairs the Achievement and Attainment committee.

She is also Labour London Regional Representative for the Local Government Association, trainer for and member of the Labour Women Network and Governor at two local secondary schools.