We applied to the Elevate Programme firstly because the mentoring element of the funding was very appealing to us, it has provided us with the opportunity to gain more knowledge, identify best practice to develop our group and ultimately enhance the future of Jam’n’Ire’s members. We were also interested in accessing funding through the grant to support our work and continue our monthly Jam’n’Ire meetups. We have successfully identified a significant need within NI for our group, but in addition to NI we also have realised that we are the only mixed heritage group in the whole of the UK.
Our Elevate Project involved delivering workshops that covered beliefs & self-esteem, identity development, emotional resilience, techniques for dealing with stress, challenging core beliefs and societies labels.
Over the last year we have built the skills and developed the confidence to look beyond our initial dreams for our group. We recognise the uniqueness of our Jam’n’Ire family, the impact it has had on the children, teens, young adults and parents/carers. It has been transformational for so many of us.
We were able to host a Hair workshop - which taught our members how to look after, maintain and love their afro hair. Our Black History project covered several areas that tend not to be openly discussed for example Mongolian blue spots and the importance of getting your GP/Health visitor to map these markings so that you’re not accused of physical abuse at a later date. We also talked about why we have certain features, how our ancestors impacted the world to date and other topics including including Melanin is my superpower, what is racism? don’t touch my hair! As part of our project we also ran a 2-week Music workshop - creating lyrics of the young people’s lived experience before joining Jam’n’Ire workshops/monthly meetups. Once completed this will become the Jam’n’Ire theme tune. At the end of the project were able to plan a Residential. This allowed families with low incomes to have the opportunity to have a brief fun filled holiday whilst completing team building activities to strengthen the member’s bond, communication skills, developing personal growth and boosting the groups moral.
Our mentor CDRCN supported us in a number of different areas. They provided support to start the registration process for becoming a charity. The zoom check-ins helped us to hear and see what the other two mentee groups were achieving and this enabled us to evaluate our project. We are incredibly grateful for the loan of a laptop and flip chart. Hearing from other groups about the impact that elevate funding had on their projects was very powerful. We were able to listen to the lessons that some of the groups who have many years’ experiences and learn from them. This gave us the confidence to know we had the support to complete a funding stream. This included managing budgets, paperwork/spreadsheets to make sure we were on target, collating receipts and invoices, has given us the confidence to go for further funding.
The ability to network with other groups was immeasurable, we were able to create links and joint working. We were able to use The Be Kind Project's Bangor venue for our October meetup. Talking to Hannah from The Be Kind Project allowed us to see we were not meeting the needs of our members with additional needs. We will now be looking for ways to fund specific events for those families. It helped us identify good practices we already had in place to improve our members mental health and social deprivation i.e. working with families to work with the Housing Executive and PSNI to identify hate crimes and put in safety measures for this family to improve their living environment.
Our future plans include becoming a registered charity and working alongside PSNI to create a programme for schools regarding hate crimes. We have also recently started to roll an educational workshop about “don’t touch my hair!” in primary schools.
We have had fantastic feedback from Jam 'n' Ire families that have taken part in our Elevate Project; Barry said “Jam'n'Ire has been a rock for us as a family since June 22. It is not only a safe space for the kids, in a province plagued by racism and antisocial behaviour in public places, but its gentle and steady tackling of issues that mixed race and mixes ethnicity families can face in Northern Ireland, is really helpful. Knowing how to deal with frizzy hair, understanding and celebrating Irish and other identities is great too. Thanks Elevate for supporting the group and allowing it to up a gear in terms of professionalism in organisation, and regional scope.” We have also had brilliant feedback from the young people who took part in the project; 11-year-old “I love Jam ‘n’ Ire. It is my safe space.” 4 year old “All the children have skin like me.” and 5 year old “I loved playing on the African drums and seeing all my friends”.
The main benefits experienced within our Jam’n’Ire family to date has been, building resilience, developing self-esteem and celebrating our cultural diversity. We Are Family!