“Keep celebrating differences. When there is an open culture that embraces and celebrates ethnic and cultural differences there is a domino effect, where more people feel comfortable speaking up and sharing their personal stories and family heritage. It’s important for us to create a space for people to be themselves and feel more at home”. – Helen Woldemichael, Community Manager at Mindspace Hammersmith.
Community Manager Helen Woldemichael
We strive for every community at all our Mindspace locations to be inclusive and open, and that requires being proactive, listening to others and working together to understand, support and champion every single member. Helen Woldemichael, Community Manager at Mindspace Hammersmith in West London, herself a black woman who was born and raised in Sweden by her Eritrean mother, is a shining example of how to do this in a way that brings the whole community closer together.
To mark Black History Month in the UK in October, Helen held important conversations with our Black community members from Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Jamaica, St Lucia, Trinidad, Grenada, and Barbados, to build a program of events that reflected what was important to them. The result was a social calendar packed with different culinary, educational and heart-warming moments.
With the help of SAO Capital (members of Mindspace Hammersmith) who are mainly Nigerian-British born members, there was a special culinary event for other members to taste their national dishes. Offering a range of dishes such as Jollof Rice (a long-grain West African rice dish with tomatoes, onions, spices, vegetables and meat in a single pot) and Puff-puff (a traditional African snack made of fried dough), the event was a big, delicious hit and celebrated an important aspect of Nigerian culture.
The next event held at the Mindspace Hammersmith location was an educational talk given by Mindspace member Latisha Rajaram-Redhead, from Scott Dunn. Latisha talked to a packed audience about her own grandparents’ journey from Trinidad to London and how they were part of the Windrush generation, the collective term for half a million people who were invited to immigrate mostly from the Caribbean to the UK by the British government from 1948-1973.
They were named after the first ship to bring them over and made significant contributions to rebuilding the country and National Health Service after the Second World War. Letisha also highlighted how the Caribbean community founded the world-famous Notting Hill Carnival, and why it is important the vibrant street celebrations continue to be held in Ladbroke Grove where they originated.
With many aspects of Black History still not taught in schools, many people are unaware of the Black British pioneers and their contribution to civil rights and life in the UK. So in addition, to help educate our own community on this subject, Chris Wilkinson, also from Scott Dunn, gave a fantastic presentation highlighting the inspirational stories of activist Paul Stephenson and physician and anti-racist activist, Harold Moody.
To end the month there was a special carnival-themed Mindspace happy hour, where all the members involved in the month’s events served Rum Punch with Caribbean snacks such as plantain chips.
Helen emphasized how every community member can really make a difference: “Reach out to people, ask questions, take the time to educate yourself rather than just rely on what you read in the media. Most importantly – stay open to learning something new and celebrating our differences.”
It was recently announced that Helen is the international winner of the global GWA Community Manager Award for excellence in hospitality. We couldn’t be prouder of Helen’s impactful work and our wider team of Community Managers around the world for their people-centric approach, which is an integral part of our DNA at Mindspace.