Serving the needs of the African and Caribbean heritage community in Watford

ImageThere was a time when there were only a few primarily Caribbean people settled in Watford.  However, over the past 20 years the population of people of African heritage has greatly increased. 

37 years ago in 1976, when the Watford African Caribbean Association (WACA) was formed, there were barely 500 African and Caribbean people in Watford and the outlying areas; then its concern was more about gathering people around and fostering particularly the Caribbean identity and projecting their culture.  Now the community has changed dramatically and with it also the opportunity to cater for the needs of all the enlarged community as well as members of the wider community.

The Watford African Caribbean Association now provides services that remains relevant to the needs of the growing community and wishes to continue to do so.

It runs several services including an elderly persons project which provides a luncheon club and a carers befriending scheme; there is a sickle cell and thalassemia support group as well as the supplementary school.  It also provides numerous opportunities for volunteering for African heritage residents and there are several cultural and social activities that engage with everyone and encourage the involvement of all for the betterment of the community.

But while the organisation has maintained its focus on meeting the educational, health, social care, cultural and social care needs of the community, the African and Caribbean heritage population has grown in an astronomical way, it is no longer just less than 500 people, it is now over 6600 people representing nearly 7.50% of the population.  In that time, the needs may have changed and become more complex, there are first generation, second generation and even third generation people of African and Caribbean heritage.  There are now more African people than Caribbean people in Watford.

The organisation is now at the crossroads. With a higher population demanding its services and with funding cuts eminent, WACA is seeking to make the changes necessary to ensure that it remains relevant particularly to the needs of the enlarged African and Caribbean heritage community in Watford and the surrounding areas.

Clive Saunders Chair of the organisation says “it is critical that we continue to serve the needs of the established African Caribbean community, but we are conscious that we also need to look at the needs of the newly arrived and also to look at people living and working in and around the Watford area.  We need the survey information to help us improve on the delivery of our services. For us this is big opportunity to outreach into the communities and if we are to continue to satisfy their needs then their engagement and response is critical

A survey of community views has been commissioned and they are inviting all persons to be involved.Image

Please contact Noel Ackers at WACA because you should be involved in this exciting survey on 01923 216957 or email him at hello@wacas.org.uk

Or alternatively please contact Maxine James of Equinox Consulting who have been commissioned to run this survey on survey@equinoxconsulting.net or on 02086805678 or go to their website at www.equinoxconsulting.net for more information and download a questionnaire to fill and return.

You can also fill in the survey at https://surveymonkey.com/s/wacamatters

Equinox are working with the Trustees of WACA to determine the needs of the community, especially the African Caribbean community and develop services to meet the needs identified.  We are gathering information on the community by consulting widely with stakeholders including:

  • Existing and potential members of WACA
  • Management committee members and staff
  • Councillors and Council officers
  • Community organisations and community leaders
  • Funders and statutory sector organisations

When the founding Chair burns out

I’ve been the Chair of a small organisation since I founded it five years ago. There are no staff and all of the work is done by six trustees and three volunteers. The trustees, including myself, have full-time jobs.
I started the organisation for personal reasons – I realised there was no support in our rural area for parents like me. I now feel that we need to take stock of the organisation and how it’s run but this is creating anxieties amongst the other trustees (who also work very hard) and the people in the community who benefit from all the organisation’s good work.

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THE WAY FORWARD

Business & Finance –

 22nd- 28th May 2000 West Africa

THE WAY FORWARD

Ade Sawyerr continues his look at what African community organisations can do to get their houses in order

ANY successful organisation has a strongly developed quality assurance system, a democratic structure, a growing membership and an approach that pursues development projects based on need. It has a constitution or defined set of rules to guide its operations. Everyone is kept informed through the correct channels, through attending meetings and ensuring that agenda papers are sent on time, minutes are kept and monthly accounts are rendered.

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Money’s too tight to mention

Business & Finance

West Africa 15th – 21st May 2000

Money’s too tight to mention

Ade Sawyerr begins a two-part series looking at the funding barriers facing African community organisations

AFRICAN community organisations are relative newcomers to Britain, purely as a result of immigration patterns. Although primary immigration was supposed to have ended in the 1960s and 70s, a large number of Africans arrived in Britain during the 1980s from different routes and for different reasons. Many came to study and now find themselves with no real urge to return home.
Continue reading “Money’s too tight to mention”