Diversity & Inclusion

Supporting Raising Black Voices

This Black History Month, we’re taking a look at one of the inspiring initiatives that St. Modwen has been proud to support through our Covid Impact Fund which provided essential support to grassroots charities and groups that have played a crucial role in supporting their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Raising Black Voices (RBV) is a collective of young, Black artists from, or living in, the Northfield area near Birmingham, lead by mentor, Danielle Parker, alongside Taiwo ‘Taiyewo’ Ajose, Ryan Treasure and Stephanie Treasure. The seed funding from St. Modwen enabled the group to begin building their initiative with a simple mission to gather people of black and ethnic minorities at all ages from the Northfield area to talk about the high impact of COVID-19 on their communities, to reflect on the Black Lives Matter movement, and to find ways to support and work creatively together.

Ryan Treasure is a dance teacher with a difference. He uses his artistic talents not just to support his pupils but to visually engage and communicate his message. In addition, Ryan is active in supporting local charity work such as food banks.

While the pandemic caused widespread disruption, the impact on the young black community throughout Northfield was something that Ryan experienced first-hand. Social media was awash with frustrations but rather than ignore the situation, Ryan decided to take action. Not just by listening, but by establishing a group that could be on hand in the future to lend an ear to those in need, and so came Raising Black Voices. There are undoubtedly similarities to the Black Lives Matter movement that has received huge support around the world, but the Northfield based group very much maintains a local ethos. Ryan credits Black Lives Matter as being a catalyst for RBV, but the mission was focused around giving something back to their community at a time when people needed crucial support.

The funding helped us to get a space to work in, get events going and activate some workshops. At a time when some young black people in the community were feeling isolated, we were able to reach out to them through social media or on the phone, if the pandemic didn’t allow us to do this in person, and listen to what they had to say, how they were feeling and any worries that they may have had.

The plan is to get all people’s stories together on a storyboard to showcase their experiences through a variety of mediums. These include dance, video, art and others. Regardless of the approach, the objective is to encourage positive expression and give people a route to communicate rather than potentially channelling anger in a negative way.

I don’t want young black people to be ashamed of who they are, I want them to express themselves, show it, they are black, be proud and most of all, have a good time!

Ryan Treasure, Founder of Raising Black Voices

Northfield has seen increased investment in recent years with a new leisure centre opening in 2018, independent businesses being attracted and the ongoing development of the former MG Rover site in Longbridge. Ryan believes that these factors have all helped to contribute towards a brighter future for young people in the community.

In the face of significant challenges, Raising Black Voices has proved that with a sense of belief, commitment and having the right team in place then a vision can become reality.

For more information about Raising Black Voices, or to join the group, contact:
Facebook: @raisingblackvoices Email: raisingblackvoices@gmail.com