Celebrating Black History Month

Monday, October 10, 2022

October is Black History Month. While Arhag is all about supporting migrants and refugees, not least by celebrating their lives and their histories 365 days a year, each October we take advantage of BHM to make a bit of a fuss of one special person. This year we will be talking to one of our valued colleagues and asking them what celebrating Black History means to them.

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It’s hard to believe that the year has passed so quickly, and we have another opportunity to celebrate Black History Month. Arhag exists to ensure every migrant and refugee in London has a good home, is empowered to safeguard their individual rights, have their voice heard and make a full contribution to their community.

Black History Month in October embraces national celebrations and events to honour the too-often unheralded accomplishments of Black Britons in every area of endeavour throughout our history. Every year, we have this opportunity to focus on those moments and people who have provided inspiration and guidance to communities across the UK. This year’s theme is Time for Change: Action Not Words.

This year we caught up with Syeda Sufia (pictured to the right) who is an Arhag resident and has been the much-valued chair of our Residents Scrutiny Panel (RSP) for over eight years, to find out what Black History Month means for her and what actions Arhag can take to make a change.

We asked Syeda whether anyone in particular has inspired her? She told us, “There are so many great people from history who inspire me, but I guess if I had to pick one it would be Rosa Parks. She was a woman with the courage to stand up for change.”

Making positive change is something Syeda feels passionate about. “I feel strongly that if we want to see change happen then we must play our part in bringing it about. That’s what I did when I got involved in the Residents Scrutiny Panel. Arhag is not perfect, of course. There is much that it could be doing better or differently, but I believe that Arhag is an organisation that is prepared to listen and to act. I feel that the more residents that get involved then the better the service will be. We need to say what we want from Arhag and we can only do that if we take an active role.

Black History Month is a great opportunity to celebrate the contribution that black people make to our culture. I am keen to ensure that Arhag champions diversity and celebrates all cultures. I am really looking forward to continuing to work with the team and to seeing all the positive changes which are coming.”

We are very grateful to Syeda for her commitment to Arhag. The work she and her colleagues on the RSP do is vital. There’s a link at the end of this article if you want to find out more about the scrutiny panel and how to get involved.

We asked Chris Harris, Arhag’s new chief executive, to sum up how he believes Arhag can best celebrate Black History Month.

Chris is proud to be involved, “First, I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to Syeda and all the panel members. Arhag’s mission is wrapped around a proud history of supporting migrants and refugees, many of whom are black. We hear of so many amazing stories from our residents. Stories of survival, of families beating the odds and communities thriving despite adversity. So, I believe the best way we can support and celebrate our communities is through our work and to make sure every migrant and refugee has a decent home to live in, can access the services they need and have their voices heard. Shouldn’t every month be Black History Month?”

We couldn’t agree more – but what do you think?

If you are an Arhag resident find out how you can get involved in ensuring Arhag is truly accountable to everyone who lives in our homes, through our Residents Scrutiny Panel.