From Slavery to Citizens of Democratic Britain
British researcher and former manager of a Lambeth Addiction project, Janice Gittens, has recently returned from Grenada, Antigua and Jamaica on a two month long Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship (www.wcmt.org.uk).
Her Fellowship in the Caribbean has convinced Personal Development Coach and Educator Janice Gittens that Britain needs to work quickly to establish the importance of education, acquisition of knowledge and a renewed ambition amongst the members of the BME Community, in order to combat the endemic problem of social exclusion found in that community. During her visit to the Caribbean she met with young people, professionals, church leaders, political activists, ministers, writers and historians in an attempt to learn what makes them passionate about politics and social reform. Janice’s conclusion is that access to education, knowledge and information has changed the course of life for those people from poorer families, and has fostered the drive and ambition to improve themselves and the life of others in their community. A good education, skills and qualifications are seen as way out of poverty, the route to social mobility and good standing in society.
Her Fellowship Report is entitled ‘From Slavery to Citizens of Democratic Britain’ and looks at how the culture and mindset of slavery in the Caribbean has left its remnants embedded in the psyche of the Afro-Caribbean community in the UK. This is subliminal and subversive with a corrosive impact on the self-esteem and sense of worth of that community. Access to the higher echelons of British society through education and other institutions has been denied to large tracts of these groups, with inevitable results around achievement and social anomie.
Janice is passionate about the need for more appropriate educational and other developmental opportunities for these groups. She says, “We have large numbers of young people in Britain today who are influenced by gang culture, either as victims or perpetrators of gun and knife violence, and who are denied educational achievement. They perceive their futures as a minor rearrangement of the opportunity furniture within pre-arranged boundaries. Crime is seen as a career option and this creates a massive economic drain on society.”
Janice is convinced that this problem is not going to go away of its own accord. She continues, ” We can see evidence of this social dislocation every day. Feral communities are springing up free of any normal societal restraint. We are seeing the rise of no go areas similar to the garrison towns of Jamaica, where poverty, high unemployment, gang warfare and fear of reprisal from Gang Dons and their henchmen are the hallmarks of criminal governance that has filled the power and motivation vacuum.” Janice is appealing for like-minded individuals to join her in creating educational and community opportunities to turn the tide the other way.
Winston Churchill Memorial Trust