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Black History Month exhibition celebrates the contributions and experiences of the BAME community

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Despite the chilly October weather, the sights, smells, and sunny vibes of Africa and the Caribbean arrived at the Phoenix Centre in London recently for an all-day celebration of Black History Month (BHM). 

The event, which featured an exhibition of art from local students, a screening of landmark drama, Hidden Figures, a raffle in aid of the Sickle Cell Society and a spread of delicious Caribbean food, was a huge success.

Kimberley McIntosh (pictured left), service delivery leader for Central London and Diversity and Inclusion lead for the South-East, said: ‘It’s an opportunity to shout and celebrate who we are and where we’ve come from. Black History Month is about understanding the contribution of so many Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) leaders who’ve enriched our community.’

Alongside an information wall on well-known figures from black history – including Joe Clough, the first black bus driver, and Olaudah Equiano, a renowned author who wrote about his experience as a slave – there was also an exhibition championing long-term BAME leaders in Royal Mail.

One of those was work area manager, Mary Babayemi (pictured right), who has been with us for more than 30 years. She also helped coordinate the event.

Explaining what BHM means to her, Mary said: ‘It’s a wonderful thing. I think every festival, every activity is important to one set of people – so if we can celebrate it, why not?’

The day raised £600 for the Sickle Cell Society – a charity that works to tackle a disease, which predominately affects the BAME community. ‘It doesn’t get much publicity and we thought this was a great way to get it up on the radar,’ said Kimberley.

‘Encouraging local schools to get involved was also hugely important. Art is subjective so, of course, people will have their own interpretations, but it gives people an opportunity to expose their thoughts and feelings and really explore what Black History Month means to them.’

One of those artists was Precious Fabamifobee, a Year 12 student at nearby Dartford Grammar School for Girls. Having submitted an intricate portrait of Barack Obama, she said: ‘As the first African-American President, his face and status for the BAME community is iconic.’

These events run alongside programs like our Springboard and Spring Forward initiatives, which aim to encourage more women, and especially BAME women, to transition to leadership positions and build momentum in their careers.

Urging everyone who is suitable to get involved, Kimberley, said: ‘The appetite to champion diversity and inclusion is there in our business. But in senior leadership we do see a little disparity – so it would be great to see where we go in the future with these sorts of programs.’

Supporting BAME colleagues

Making our business a place where black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues can achieve their potential remains a priority. Career progression is a key focus as we work towards improving the representation of colleagues from BAME backgrounds across all levels of the business.

If you are thinking about holding a BAME cultural event in your unit, and need some help please reach out to the BAME steering group, or to volunteer to help out with their activities, email bame@royalmail.com.