Beyond Black History Month: the power of stories

by Karys Matthams | 02 Nov 2022

Written by Karys, Trainer of The Mental Health Toolkit

We take a look beyond Black History Month, and the power of stories.

History… Herstory… Theirstory… Ourstory!

Our whole lives are made of the stories of what happened to us, and our stories matter to each and every one of us. They define our experience of life and provide us roots – roots within ourselves and roots connecting us to those around us.  Our stories give us links to our various communities and help to build emotional connections with others – both essential emotional needs that help us to remain well. Imagine how it would feel if someone mistold your life story or edited it to fit in better with the story they wanted to tell about themselves. What if your part in their story was edited out completely? Maybe it would feel deeply uncomfortable, perhaps trigger feelings of anger or indignation and maybe it would leave you determined to have your story told correctly. 

Black History Month is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the varied stories of triumph, creativity, and contribution to Suffolk – and Great Britain as a whole. However, black history goes beyond just one month.

You can explore fictional stories such as Noughts & Crosses at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich from 8th-12th November 2022. This stage play of Malorie Blackman’s ground-breaking novel for young adults explores themes of love, revolution and what it means to grow up in a divided world.

Look into the inspirational real life stories of local black people on the Power of Stories website. This includes Affy Green, who grew up in Bury St Edmunds and has carved a career in the world of music as a renowned drummer and writer.

Or take a step over the Suffolk/Norfolk Border into Thetford. Travel back in time to find out about the first black mayor of a British town, Allan Glaisyer Minns – who played an important part in community life, becoming mayor of Thetford all the way back in 1904.

The stories you decide to check out as part of your celebration of black history will help to enrich your own story and build that all-important sense of community, and the belonging that we all need to feel to have our needs met in balance. Maybe you would also like to reach out to some of the community groups available in Suffolk to help meet the needs of our diverse community:

  • PHOEBE – an Ipswich-based registered charity that offers specialist advice, information, casework, advocacy and support and counselling services to black and ethnic minority women and children
  • BME Suffolk Support Group – a non-profit organisation providing practical support for black and minority ethnic families and individuals in northwest Ipswich and its districts, helping to achieve social integration and wellbeing
  • Karibu – African Women’s Support Group, which provides information, advice, help, support, and counselling services to African and minority ethnic women and their families in Ipswich and Suffolk in general

And, as always, Suffolk Mind is here to help you tell your story, change the direction of your story, or to celebrate your story by helping you to get your needs met through our range of support services.

We hope you enjoyed Black History Month and the rich stories it has to offer.

by Karys Matthams

Karys is a Trainer at The Mental Health Toolkit.

“I love training people with The Mental Health Toolkit because it makes taking care of mental health and wellbeing straightforward and practical. There’s nothing better than seeing people leave a session, excited about how they can implement what they have learned to improve their lives, as well as the lives of their colleagues, family and friends.”

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