Collab Training Academy: It takes a village…

As a Lewisham based not-for-profit organisation, Collab Training Academy CIC has made supporting the BME youth and community a priority.

In 2020, we saw how the Covid-19 pandemic had heavily impacted everyone around us, especially to those who were already struggling pre-pandemic. Mass unemployment and an increase in people claiming benefits was evident, but solutions were not being discussed. We created ‘It takes a village’ to tackle the issue. The event was split into multiple parts from May to October. Supporting individuals was the key element in all of them, ensuring that we cover such as mental health and wellbeing, as well as education, training, and employment. We also ensured that all participants had the opportunity to network and make connections, encouraging partnerships that benefit the Lewisham residents.

Throughout our events we aimed to find out where support was needed and what was available. The first event took place on May 27th, 2020, where we discussed how young people were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We teamed up with Lewisham Local, Lewisham BME Network, other local influential businesses, and individuals to create change with short, medium, and long-term solutions and offer everyone a better quality of life. Lewisham Local provided us with a platform through their social media to expand our company and advertise our events.

Throughout our events we aimed to find out where support was needed and what was available. The first event took place on May 27th, 2020, where we discussed how young people were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We teamed up with Lewisham Local, Lewisham BME Network, other local influential businesses, and individuals to create change with short, medium, and long-term solutions and offer everyone a better quality of life. Lewisham Local provided us with a platform through their social media to expand our company and advertise our events.

We followed this up with the second event on August 19th, 2020. This part had the intention to bring together employers, training providers, not-for-profits and all those who work with youth and offer various services. Our aim was to promote best practice in the borough and enable people to learn, network and share their experiences.

The last part of the event was a training week launched on September 30th, 2020 with a networking event and it was our way to mark Black History Month. We aimed to bring together the community of Lewisham, to help and support the youths, families, and people of a disadvantaged background and to create support mechanisms. We connected over 100 businesses, SMEs, charities, stakeholders, young people, councillors, MBEs, and the former Mayoress of Lewisham to find the best solutions. In total, we offered 31 education, training, and employment programmes, including workshops on health and wellbeing, finance, welfare rights, equality, financial education, employment, sports, and others.

However, as we were developing our project, we discovered that our target market was sometimes hard to reach and that the available research was insufficient. This is why we took to the streets in September to talk directly to Lewisham residents. We also started gathering data during our events and so we created our Business Impact Report, covering the education, training, employment, and mental health needs that we identified. We continue to work on collecting information as we want to present the reality from grassroot level.

‘It takes a village’ was a huge success and we have the words of our keynote speakers to vouch for this. Barbara Gray, former Mayoress of Lewisham and Council Advisor on BAME Health Inequalities told us that ‘the project embraces what the pandemic has taught us about coming together and keeping a firm eye on what has to be achieved. They got straight to the heart of the solution, leaving space for sharing ideas, innovation, trying new things’. Danielle Colleman, the young lady who founded the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme, said that our events gave her the chance to ‘hear from many people doing work in the borough’ and to learn ‘about opportunities out there for young people’ which she then shared with her peers, and ‘to get in contact with organisations that are open to new ideas to help the youth’.

‘It takes a village’ will return in October 2021 to mark Black History Month and to bring even more to Lewisham and South-East London. For this we are partnering with Goldsmiths Community Centre, and working in collaboration with the likes of Kinaraa CIC, the Local Council and Local Authority in Lewisham, Lambeth, and Southwark. We are also launching an Education, Training, and Employment Hub in Downham where we will offer coaching & mentoring, opportunity & career fairs, courses, vocational training programmes, and many more.

© Lewisham Local 2021 served by freshSPRING Lewisham Local is hosted by Rushey Green Time Bank. Charity number 1101616 | Company Number 4681564
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