It is a tremendous privilege to join the team at FACES in October 2021 as a part-time project coordinator. I attended the launch of FACES in 2016 in Bury Park, Luton and remember being impressed by its approach, attitude and boldness towards difficult issues.
I am a Christian Leader and currently lead a church in Central Bedfordshire in addition to volunteer work in the wider community. For the last 30 years I have worked in a wide variety of churches, nations and communities.
I was born in Zimbabwe at a time where the country was going through a transition from racial inequality towards majority rule. These beginnings in my life have helped my ongoing understanding of different people, cultures and approaches to life. I have also seen some of the damage done through imbalances of power and its slow repair. These early experiences have shown me how real change is possible and also given me hope for how many other situations can change. Sadly, too often in society, groups de-humanise each other and present people as ‘other’ in order to justify their actions. Getting to know people different to ourselves, with different perspectives help break this down; especially when we aim to build together.
I have always been interested in helping communities work together and have therefore often volunteered in roles where I can assist this; including cross-communities work in Northern Ireland during my late teens. My community work over the years has involved working with local councils, inner city regeneration, working with other leaders and also helping organisations. My current volunteer roles involve working with large and small organisations, often in a strategic advisory or trustee role, and assisting their community engagement.
Over the last 16 years, I have also learnt that Luton is an incredible place. It is full of vibrant cultures and there is rarely a dull moment in my experience. I have met some wonderful and diverse people and communities. I see this diversity as an amazing strength, especially when it works together for the good of the town. I also see that the challenges for Luton are often the very same issues facing the nation. This means when we can find solutions that work locally, we often find solutions that can help the nation as a whole.
After the Covid-19 outbreak, lockdown viewpoints have become stronger and more isolated. I see FACES as an organisation linking people from different backgrounds to protect the vulnerable and disadvantaged. To me faith and belief are powerful motivators towards caring for others. Too often this element is missing from the public square, so it is a pleasure and privilege to work alongside others whose faith is key to their care and protection of others.
FACES to me is a step in the right direction for communities and I am genuinely excited to be involved. I’m sure my time with FACES will be a further opportunity to learn more, meet more wonderful people and to build on what I have learned so far. I often find I learn more about myself when I meet people from different backgrounds to my own. Very often I feel challenged by the creativity, wisdom, hospitality, plurality and generosity of heart many different cultures display, and also how odd some of the things I live with must seem to them. We have much to learn from each other in this world!