20 October 2022
Pat Blake shares her thoughts on Black History Month
Pat has been with Anchor since 2015 and discusses the impact colleague networks have made on raising awareness and what Black History Month means to her
I’m Pat Blake and I work as an Estate Manager at Anchor, and I’ve been with the organisation since 2015. The best part about my role is that Anchor provide me with the right training a support to drive forward change and therefore improve the lives of our residents. I have lots of autonomy in my role, which gives me the flexibility to plan, organise and deliver the vision and goals of Anchor.
I can also embrace my culture at Anchor and feel I can celebrate difference. I’m proud of the person I am. From educational achievements in being awarded a 1st prize in English at age 10, to being awarded with my BA Degree in Social Sciences with English & an MA Degree in Housing Studies, to my Christian faith, to the celebration of my culture's delicious food, music, and history.
Using colleague networks to connect with others
In the workplace, I joined our colleague network for ethnicities other than White British a few years ago and actively engaged with colleagues by participating in the Black History Month activities. One example in 2020, was that I successfully encouraged some residents to share their personal stories of life in Britain in the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s when they arrived here as children or as a student from Singapore and Africa. The result was amazing!
In 2021, for Black History month, I was part of a colleague discussion panel of Black women in which the topic was “Let’s talk about Black Hair”. We discussed why Black hair was different, why it was important to us and how it had shaped our experiences. Again, another poignant medium to air our personal experiences in the workplace and outside the workplace. In addition to this, I took part in researching our ancestors and learning about Kings and Queens in Africa and educating my other colleagues about our vibrant cultural music, foods, independent celebrations from the Caribbean, Africa and around the world.
I am still an active member of the network and enjoy it very much because of the lively and passionate discussions we have with each other. The network gives me a platform from which I have a space to talk honestly, to celebrate and showcase my experiences and those of my colleagues and famous Black personalities who have made an indelible mark in the landscape of world history. Black History Month is an amazing opportunity to celebrate the diversity within Anchor and share the incredible stories of colleagues and residents.
Anchor recognises that colleagues are essential to making Anchor a great place to work and when we feel supported and happy in work, this positivity reaches the very people we are here for – residents. The networks create a more diverse and inclusive organisation and ensures that we harness the talents of all our colleagues.
Outside of work, I am actively involved in community outreach. I sit on the Board of a local charity, which provides vital services to the community around us for example: Weddings, Baptisms, Counselling, Baby Dedications, Funerals, Lettings/ Hall hire etc. to persons of all ethnic backgrounds. I am also the Secretary and one of the Auxiliary Leaders for my Church, I get involved with organising events, communicating with different community groups, writing letters to local MPs, agencies, and organise wider community fund-raising events, sending invites /flyers for major annual events.
I have been a part of a borough wide singing group that performs annually in front of Haringey Mayor, other dignitaries at the Broad Water Farm Community Hall (Haringey) in aid of fundraising for research in Sickle Cell Anemia, a blood disorder which occurs predominantly in people of African and African-Caribbean origin. Being involved in the community in this way through talent is of the highest importance for me as a member of this ethnic group, as this fundraising can make a big difference in improving someone’s life forever.
What Black History Month means to Pat
Black History Month is important to me because it is a space people like myself to reflect, break down racial barriers and celebrate the legacy of the past. For us to understand where we are, we must understand our past and how we got here, including all the events and people who shaped the way Britain stands today.
Black History Month means to review the positive impact our black pioneers from around the world have had on groups of people and organisations. It means honouring the legacy these leaders have laid down for future generations to follow. It means I can support and participate in the advancement of Black people today against a backdrop of racism that unfortunately continues to raise its head throughout all sectors in Britain today.
It means educating my children, educating my colleagues, educating the community around me that great pioneers such as Harriet Truman, Mae Carol Jemison, Nelson Mandela, and many more, have heroically shifted themselves beyond slavery and racism and have proved to the world that perseverance for a just cause breaks down barriers.
Black History Month helps us all to see that Black history is also British history.
You can find out more about the ways in which we aim to make diversity and inclusion an everyday reality for our residents and colleagues here.
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February was LGBT+ History Month. The theme for this year’s activity was Poetry, Prose and Plays so to recognise this we held a writing competition for our colleagues and residents.
Anchor celebrates Black History Month
This October we are marking Black History Month by celebrating accomplishments of colleagues and residents and honouring the contributions of Black Britons across history.