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Black Women’s Activism in Manchester

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The videos for this section were produced as a part of the Women Of The Soil project, where they can also be accessed and are fully available. Go to www.dacocodiatrust.com/women-of-the-soil for a full description and context to the project.

The reason why this project focused on the experience of African Caribbean women in Manchester is conveyed by the title of a book by Gloria Hull, Patricia Bell Scott and Barbara Smith (1982), “All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men, But some of Us are Brave”. It means that the histories of activism tend to ignore black women. They have been taken for granted and assumed to have a passive role. This project will look beyond those assumptions, at the life and work of black women in Manchester, telling ‘herstories,’ often of women that can be described as ‘silent warriors’, living seemingly ordinary lives but who have contributed to extraordinary changes.

Black Women’s Activism in Manchester
The first of two documentary films about the Women Of The Soil project created by First Cut Media and directed by Tony Reeves.  This first one is about Black Women’s activism and the second is about Louise Da-Cocodia herself.  They were premiered on 17th June 2018 in Moss Side, Manchester, incredibly well received by the local community. 
This video gives an account of the many struggles faced by women both professionally and as activists in Manchester, they talked about helping to build support systems for young people caught up in violence, people with mental health issues and the criminal justice system. They talked about the empowerment of black women and their efforts in developing partnerships with the police, the City Council, Educational Institutions, Businesses and local organising in order to achieved their goals. They talk about balancing their jobs, family life and their activism work. They talked about the pioneering women who have inspired them, such has Mama Elouise Edwards MBE, Louise Da-Cocodia MBE and Kath Lock to set the standard for self development in business, education and to become leaders and advocates. They talked about working closely with such organisations as the Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum and the Louise Da-Cocodia Educational Trust.

‘Mrs D’ Louise Da-Cocodia
The second of two documentary films about the Women Of The Soil project created by First Cut Media and directed by Tony Reeves.  This second film is about Louise Da-Cocodia herself. 
Louise Da-Cocodia was very passionate about the value of education in transforming lives. She believed in educating our children and young people to make progress both academically and personally to ensure that they develop into resilient and confident citizens, who are leaders in education, employment and enterprise. This video tells the story of a woman’s quest to make positive changes in the black communities of Moss Side, Hulme, Old Trafford and surrounding communities. Her story been told by the women who knew and worked with her for a number of years, they talked about her tireless work as an activist in championing the establishment of such organisations as the Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum, the Louise Da-Cocodia Supplementary School, the Arawak Housing Trust, Cariocca Enterprises and the launch of the Louise Da-Cocodia Education Trust. They talked about Louise’s dedicated work in the NHS and her rise to the top of her profession, her role as Church Warden and the important role she played in the church community, and her role as school Governor.

Celebrating the Community Activism of Pioneering Black Women: 
Chief Mama Elouise Edwards MBE, Betty Luckham and Auntie Julie Asumu in conversation, responding to prompts from Angela Ankeli. Key topics included their experiences when they first arrived in the UK; what does community and culture mean to them; their words of inspiration to younger people now; the problems of getting unity; and where can we see prospects and optimism for the community.

Over two dozen women were interviewed for the Women Of The Soil project, and are here grouped into their respective focus on specific topics as shown in the following sub-headings. These were in addition to general questions including about their community activism, achievements and the legacy of Louise Da-Cocodia.

Culture and Faith

Deanne Heron
Deanne is a counsellor, trainer and foster carer. She has published two volumes of poetry and short stories in standard English with Jamaican Patois dialogue. She talks about what has inspired her to become a foster carer and counsellor, her work with Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum and women’s refuges. She talks about being a presenter of African and Caribbean news and music programmes on local radio and her participation with Black History month events.

Dawn Owen-Harris
Dawn is a self-employed finance and business manager.  She is also involved with various community initiatives on a voluntary basis. Dawn gave a brief insight to the work of Louise Da-Cocodia and her involvement in the Church and her work as a School Governor and how she inspired her to become successful in her career as an accountant and a good Christian.

Dr. Erica McInnis
Erica is the Director and Principal Chartered Clinical Psychologist with Nubia Wellness Healing. She talks about her 22 years experience working for the National Health Service and how she currently facilitates African psychology seminars. She talks about how she launched the Emotional Emancipation Circles in Manchester and London, supporting people of African descent.

Francia Messado
Francia joined the Abasindi Black Women’s Co-operative at the age of 16. She talks about how the experience has helped her to develop her professional career and her role as Pan-African drummer, dancer, performer and choreographer. She explains how she helped to develop a course for women in construction with Manchester College and how her activism work led her to participate in a number of marches and demonstrations in support of the black struggles in Manchester. She talksabout her job as women’s development co-ordinator for Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum and her current role as learning support advisor for Manchester Adult Education Service.

Revd Kim Wasey
Revd Dr Kim Wasey is a Chaplain at the University of Salford and an Assistant Priest at St. Chrysostom. Dr Wasey talked about Louise Da-Cocodia’s relentless work with the Church and how she lead by example.

Women and Families

Julie Asumu
Julie is the founder of Moss Side Family Centre established in 1994. Julie talks about the support she received from Louise Da-Cocodia and Mama Elouise Edwards in her quest to offer services for pregnant young girls who have very little support from home and the establishment. She talks about strengthening families, communities and parents across cultures and about the project she has setup to support women and young girls, including health, education and cultural awareness, supporting young women detained by the criminal justice system, and migrant children.

Dr.Erinma Bell
Erinma is the co-founderof CARISMA – Community Alliance for Renewal Inner South Manchester Area. She talks about the work of CARISMA, its struggles and achievements and how she leads the work around issues such as restorative justice, peace and conflict resolution and peace making. She talks about her front-line work to offer life chances for young people in the community caught up in street crime, guns and drugs. She gave an account of the important roles she plays as Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchesterand her links to the work of Louise Da-Cocodia and her work with the Family Support Centre and other local community organisation.

Wendy Henry
Wendy talks about her job as Manager at the Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum and the positive influences Louise Da-Cocodia had on her and how she would use gentle approaches to get her to be involved in activities not in her job description, such as supporting the Montserrat evacuees. She talks about her concerns for the future of the black communities in Manchester on the political level and the lack of open political activism once demonstrated by people like Louise Da-Cocodia, Mama Elouise Edwards and Kath Locke.  She talks about her working in Kenya and Ethiopia on women’s rights.

Samsam Mohammed
Samsam Qassim Mohamud a former administrator at Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum gave a brief account about her job and how Louise Da-Cocodia encouraged and supported her to do well and helped while studding Hair and Beauty at college. Samsam discusses plans to open her beauty salon and also as an opportunity for her to support  women of all nationalities.

Health and Housing

Prof. Carol Baxter CBE
Carol has over four decades experience of working across the health and social care, private, voluntary and academic sector. She talks about what has inspired her to take up a career in the health service and what has motivated her in achieving her aims. She talks about her life as an activist, her links with the Abasindi Women’s Co-operative, Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum, Kath Locke and Louise Da-Cocodia. She talks about her drive to implement changes in the NHS, including equality, diversity, human rights and promoting the improvement of quality of service within the NHS.

Mary Chaba
Mary worked in the NHS for 48 years.She talks about the many challenges she faced, the lack of support for nurses from the Caribbean, the racism and poor working conditions. She talks about her passion for her job and how she was driven to help and support other up and coming nurses and how she was inspired by her work with Louise Da-Cocodia. She talks about their fond memories and lasting friendship up until her passing.

Verna Davis
Verna is the Service Manager for the Manchester Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Service and lead specialist in Haemoglobinopathy. Verna talks about her work in community health for ethnic minorities, how it led her to becoming a health specialist in Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia illnesses. She talks about the campaigns by herself and others like Louise Da-Cocodia, Clive Lloyd and Mama Elouise Edwards to get the NHS to recognise and support the seriousness of Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia. She talks about setting up the first Sickle and Thalassaemia Centre in the country and how it set the precedence for other parts of the county to follow, such as Leeds, Birmingham and London. Her campaign for changing policy in the NHS to cater for the needs of ethnic minorities suffering from Sickle Cell and the important role of the Abasindi Women’s Co-operative in promoting the service.

Jeanette Stanley
Jeanette is the director at the African and Caribbean Mental Health Services (HCMHS) for over 21 years.She talks about the challenges and achievements of the service, her involvement as one of the founder members of the Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum along with Louise Da-Cocodia who has inspired her to empower other women to become leaders. Jeanette talks about her fond memories of Louise Da-Cocodia as a friend, mother figure and role model. Jeanette also gives an account of the challenges of her activism work, her full-time job and bringing up a family, she talks about challenging the establishments with Louise Da-Cocodia leading the struggles and her relentless drive to empower women.

Local Government & Equal Opportunities

Jackie Bailey
Jackie talks about her life long passion and commitment to supporting people, particularly women and how working with Louise Da-Cocodia at Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum has inspired her to become an activist. She talks about her role as the Principal Policy Officer for Gender Equality in Manchester City Council, her involvement in the International Women’s Day.

Maria Noble
Maria talks about her work as an activist in the context of feminism, the capacity for kindness, wisdom warmth and making a positive contribution to community. She talks about her membership and activist work with  Abasindi Women’s Co-operative, the Kath Locke Community Centre and her connection to Louise Da-Cocodia and the Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum. She talks about the urge to retain family values and the need to celebrate our survival and achievements, which help to guide us into the future.

Sonia Stewart
Sonia is a Human Resources and Organisational Development Specialist and a joint Trade Union Officer at Manchester City Council. She talks about how she has promoted the importance of BME communities joining unions and becoming active members. She talks about the role she played during the preparations for the Commonwealth Games held in Manchester. She talks about launching the first BME jobs fair and her volunteer work with disadvantaged young people, encouraging them to take active participation in sports, her role as Chair and Coordinator of the Manchester Caribbean Carnival and her involvement with International Women’s Day in Manchester.

Enterprise and Employment

Lorna Downer
Lorna is the Director for Communications and Social Media with the Caribbean and African Health Network. Lorna gives an account of her many roles as an activist, a mother, fashion designer and youth and community worker. She talks about launching a number of businesses and the challenges of bringing up her children with autism and how it led her to deliver autism awareness training for the National Autistic Society.

Mumba Kafula
Mumba is the director at Dynamic Heights, Training and Coaching Service. She talks about her work with Manchester City Council and her role as head of the 2010 Agenda road show project and how she used her position to help and support grass roots BME communities in Education, Health, Crime and Employment, how she launched the Black Officers Association within the City Council and has organised motivational conferences for women. She talks about her work with Nana Bonsu (Berry Edwards) and the Carmoor West Indian Centre and how it has motivated her cultural and political awareness which played an important role her development and achievements. She talks about her membership with the Abasindi Women’s Co-operative and the influence it had on her personal development. She talks about the work she did with Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum and her role as a director at Cariocca Enterprises.

Betty Luckam
Betty Luckham was a teacher at Ducie High School in Moss Side and later worked for Manchester City Council Education Department as a member of the Equal Opportunities Ethnic Minorities Team. She talks about her activism work and her involvement in many campaigns for equality and justice and her work for the Catholic Association for Racial Justice and how she organised the first Congress of Black Catholics. Betty talked about her involvement in working on strategies for economic development with Louise Da-Cocodia and in particular the development of Cariocca Enterprises, and its challenges and success. 

Jackie McNeish
Jackie is a qualified youth and community worker for over 20 years, Jackie talks about how she has setup a group called Women of Worth to help young girls and women overcome domestic violence and abuse.  She talks about her campaign to setup Peace FM (now Legacy Radio) and the many struggles she faced and how she was one of the founders of Sickle Care in Manchester. She talks about how she was inspired by her mother, Louise Da-cocodia and Mama Elouise Edwards to become an activist and about her campaign to stop community violence which led her to a meeting with Lord Whitelaw the then Home Secretary. She talks about how women should set long term targets for business development, education and jobs and be role models for women and young girls.

Natalie Teniola
Natalie has developed community activities and local businesses over many years. She was one of the trustees at the Nello James Centre and has published a book on the 2002 Commonwealth Games held in Manchester. Natalie is the director of Koded Kolours selling African hand-made crafts and gifts. She talks about how she was empowered by the influence of Louise Da-Cocodia and was encouraged to be on the forefront of community activism for the empowerment of women in education and business.

Education and Training

Judy Craven
Judy has worked for Manchester Adult Education Service for over 26 years teaching English Literacy and English Speakers for Other Languages (ESOL). Judy talks about how she got involved with local women’s groups particularly in Moss Side and her first encounter with Louise Da-Cocodia and her many campaigns for social justice for the community and in particular the empowerment of women. Judy talks about her involvement with the Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum, and how she has created and published literacy learning materials using Jamaican Patois. She talks about her volunteer work at local Primary Schools and at Louise Da-Cocodia Saturday School.

Marilyn Cuffy
Cuffy is a youth/neighbourhood worker and activist. She talks about her roles in cultural and community activism such as introducing mental health awareness in churches and local colleges. She talks about her work with the Abasindi Women’s Co-operative and the African and Caribbean Mental Health Services, her work with young people in the Cheetham Hill area and at the Abraham Moss Centre and her involvement with Sojourners Black Women’s Refuge and with anti-deportation campaigns.

Tony Harris
Tony is a fashion designer. Tony talks about her job at the Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum, her close relationship with Louise Da-Cocodia and how Mrs. D inspired her to do well both in her job and self-development. Tony talks about her teaching role within the Manchester Adult Education Service and about how local political in-fighting has damaged individuals and communities and the need to work together for the preservation of our young people and community.

Dr. Diane Watt
Diane talks about how she became an activist after joining the Manchester Black Women’s Co-operative while a student and her involvement with Saturday Supplementary school and how it led to her current roles as a Trustee at the Louise Da-Cocodia Education Trust and director at Cariocca Enterprises. Diane also talks about how her activism took her to teach secretarial studies to students in Zimbabwe and her undertaking volunteer work in Togo, West Africa. She talks about the important activism work led by women in the community and how Louise Da-Cocodia was instrumental in setting the standard for women and girls to empower themselves. She talks about establishing the Moss Side and Hulme Women’s Action Forum, led by Louise Da-Cocodia and her involvement in the Abasindi Women’s Co-operative and her quest to recognise the mothers who have produced these powerful  black women in our society.



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