Joyce Fraser
Joyce Fraser of Black Heroes Foundation
Joyce Fraser
Joyce Fraser of Black Heroes Foundation

How I Met Joyce Fraser of Black Heroes Foundation

Here’s my story of how I met Joyce Fraser of Black Heroes Foundation, and Joyce’s story too.

Vanessa:

I met my friend Joyce Fraser at a Charity event run by Dawn Newton. I was on the internet that day and found Joyce’s profile, originally because Joyce is trustee of an organisation Board I sit on, and I stumbled across her profile. I became intrigued and was semi stalking her I suppose you might say, and became fascinated by a woman who had won the Prime Minister’s Point of Light Award, founded Black Heroes Foundation, and was a colleague of some sorts.

Fate

I turned up to this event and knew a few people but sat away from them, then came the fateful instruction to ‘turn around and network.’ Around I turned to see Joyce’s beautiful smiling face and bunch of curls staring back at me, and we became instant friends! Off to the coffee shop I whisked her, asking countless questions and babbling away. Joyce’s story brought tears to my eyes. Joyce was married to Peter ‘Flip’ Fraser. They met through family, and Flip engineered a way to see Joyce at a dinner party. Although the start was slow, the rest is history! They fell in love and married. 

Background

Black Heroes Foundation was started by Peter ‘Flip’ Fraser, first editor of the voice, as a way for young black people to have positive role models. It was born out of his globally acclaimed show “Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame” described as ‘5,000 years of black history in one show,’ Black Heroes in the hall of Fame gave young black people positive heroes, and toured nationally and internationally. It was the longest running Black show in London and was acclaimed by high profile real life black heroes who saw it was a way to help the next generation understand their roots. You can read more about it here.

Beginning of the journey

When Flip passed away in 2014, Joyce did not know how to mourn. ‘Flip’ was loved by so many. So many times, he had asked Joyce for help with the show during his lifetime, but Joyce declined as it was ‘His Thing’. Now, over Facebook café coffee, Joyce was telling me she looked for a way to continue Flip’s legacy.

I believed in Joyce from the first moment we met: I was no match for her shining energy and I believed in Joyce’s cause, The Black Heroes Foundation (BHF), which she set up to further the aim of providing positive role models to black people.

And that’s how I met Joyce Fraser!

Joyce:

Sometimes you meet people and they just make a lasting impression on you. A bond is just formed. This happened when I went to the offices of Facebook for a meet-up event organised by Dawn Newton. The obligatory, dreaded turn around and greet a total stranger warm up exercise started…..so I turned round and was met by this wonderful bubble of energy! When we exchanged names she gasped and said “Joyce, Joyce Fraser I so wanted to meet you, I can’t believe that we sat behind/infront of each other, you’re a

First impressions

Trustee of the IOF, I’m on their London Membership Board….” in her wonderful (Australian/Kiwi -can’t remember the word antipodean?) accent, and Vanessa promptly marched me off for a coffee! And so a friendship was formed. We meet for coffees, chat on the phone, Covid enforced Zoom and just encourage each other. Vanessa is so full of energy, ideas and enthusiasm.  Passionate, smart, business like and buzzing around London on her trusty bike. I received a nomination to apply for the IOD award, which I was honoured by and started to complete, but just did not have enough time to complete. Some weeks later Vanessa suggested that I apply for the IOD award…I said that I had been nominated, asking accusingly whether that was her who had nominated me! I had started the application, but just did not have enough time to complete. Running a charity with no staff and very little funds is very, very demanding and I was just so stretched. Bless Vanessa, she said that she would complete if for me, and talked me into applying for another one – xxx. And so Vanessa has entered my details for two awards, the best I hope for is that it raises the profile of the Black Heroes Foundation and helps it get the support the it needs to carry out its great work. 

‘Our children are killing each other because they don’t know who they are.’ As Marcus Garvey said, “a people without the knowledge of their history, origins & culture is like a tree without roots”.

Black Heroes Foundation

The importance of heroes is well documented in healthy, engaged, high-performing communities. In short, diverse communities perform better.

Why

Black Heroes Foundation exists to promote social inclusion in areas where people may be socially excluded due to financial hardship, unemployment, race, ethnic origin or poor education or skills attainment, by helping people develop new practical and social skills and advance in life through the provision of creative arts workshops, gala performances and educational resources for schools, and the promotion of equality and diversity for public benefit by advancing education and raising awareness of equality and diversity.

As one youth said, “The Black Heroes Foundation gives us a Voice, it is like a light in a dark room”.

How

The Black Heroes Foundation achieves its objectives by developing creative community events for school children and adults to inspire attendees through art and story-telling. BHF has a vision for the future of an integrated society where black people have overcome legacy psychological and actual stereotypes and can contribute to a healthy community for the benefit of all.

What

To date, BHF community projects have positively impacted many individuals and communities. The long-term goal is to revive the original Hall of Fame theatre show, casting modern black heroes in main parts, along with alumni cast members, and bring the show to schools and the west end for a limited period. To achieve this goal, BHF needs to raise £300,000 to cover the cost of producing the show. In order to achieve this goal, mid-term goals include growing community arts projects and scaling those, employing a full-time operations manager and reviewing technology systems and applications to become better at understanding its’ supporters and communicating with them. In order to raise the required funds to revive the theatre show, BHF plans to start a patron programme and develop a prospectus for potential investors and major donors, as well as implement a structured fundraising program.

Black Heroes Foundation: Approach

BHF has achieved some success in that it has inspired many black young people and adults to achieve more by helping them to understand their past, and presenting positive role models, through art projects and creative spaces. There is still so much work to do – many diversity organisations exist but BHF is unique because it strives to overcome the perceived absence of positive black role models in society by presenting inspirational, achieving, high worth, valuable examples for black people.

Community projects include arts workshops & creative spaces.

Over 1,500 people have attended BHF events and more than 30,000 people engage online. The work has engaged, entertained and informed across Wandsworth’s diverse communities; presented in community settings, such as the Leilani Restaurant, Fresh Ground (WAF 18) and Wandsworth Libraries 2019 Black History Month Season.

BHF has also presented its work at GLA City Hall, Tate Exchange, Dulwich Library, Luton Town Hall, Anerley’s Pineapple Club, Southwark Food Banks and Woolwich Library.

Black Heroes Foundation: Achievements & Vision 3-5 years

To date, BHF community projects have positively impacted many individuals and communities and now needs to scale to achieve mid and long-term objectives.

Over the past two years BHF has created three new shows and presented 20 performances of Soul Food Cafe, The Debate and Wall of Fame in Wandsworth. In addition, 2 short films have been made, Wandsworth Voices and the Story of Sam King and a 20 piece printed exhibition, together with an Oral History project.

Engagement

Over 1,500 people have attended BHF events and more than 30,000 people engage online. The work has engaged, entertained and informed across Wandsworth’s diverse communities; presented in community settings, such as the Leilani Restaurant, Fresh Ground (WAF 18) and Wandsworth Libraries 2019 Black History Month Season.

BHF has also presented its work at GLA City Hall, Tate Exchange, Dulwich Library, Luton Town Hall, Anerley’s Pineapple Club, Southwark Food Banks and Woolwich Library.

For example, during the Black Heroes Soul Food Café Project which was a monthly artistic space for artistic expression, sharing and education in Wandsworth, Increased participation in arts/community events; • 94/201 said it was the first time they had been to an event like this, • 128/201 wanted more, • 128/201 said that their family would benefit from attending.

Testimonials

“… Kemeka was very inspirational, Boden told a story, his spoken word was educational and inspiring. More of this is needed. We need to hear about our history Learnt and enjoyed….Given me a sense of self-identity This is a much needed event, and long may it continue Beautiful, warm, friendly atmosphere, educational such a beautiful inspiring night. I came away feeling so powerful… it really made an imprint on my heart! 

We need more organisations like this and especially for the younger generation to share their talents and experiences. So empowering!”

Mid-term goals include continuing to produce live cultural events programmes that facilitate creative collaborations between a range of cultural practitioners including historians, social researchers and performing, visual and digital artists.

Goals

The long-term goal is to revive the original Hall of Fame theatre show, casting modern black heroes in main parts, along with alumni cast members, and bring the show to schools and the west end for a limited period. To achieve this goal, BHF needs to raise £300,000 to cover the cost of producing the show. In order to achieve this goal, mid-term goals include growing community arts projects and scaling those, employing a full-time operations manager and reviewing technology systems and applications to become better at understanding its’ supporters and communicating with them. In order to raise the required funds to revive the theatre show, BHF plans to start a patron programme and develop a prospectus for potential investors and major donors as well as implement a structured fundraising program.

This award will bring prominence to BHF to continue its important work and aid in the seeking of funds to revive the original theatre show.

Black Heroes Foundation Case Study Link

Update: recently Joyce was nominated for Positive Role Model in the National Diversity Awards, you can read about that here.

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