East London Hopefuls had their first Annual General Meeting last week. African and Cribbean people with lived experience of the mental health system have organised themselves into an organisation in Newham. Emmanual Camille is the Chair and Sidney Millin is the Development worker. The AGM, held in Durning Hall, was well attended and well orchestrated by Aronda Atkinson. There was delicious cake to welcome us, with poetry, singing, speechesand drama followed by wonderful a wonderful Caribbean meal.
The mood was celebratory and there was hopefulness about feeling good, not being written off, not willing to be seen in terms of a health condition but insisting on being seen in terms of who they are and the gifts they bring to this world. The newsletter is very good and members were justly proud of it.
I was honoured to be there. This is what I said at the end to sum up:
East London Hopefuls! African and Caribbean people together, working together, with love, with hope, offering mutual support, sharing strength from the inside.
The wider society needs you, your kindness, your bravery, your determination, your generosity, you depth, your creativity, your honour, your dignity.
We must be judged on the basis of our intentions in this life, and what we learn as we go through it. So make your witness, speak it out. Reject the labels imposed and embrace your lived experiences, claim your wisdom. Speak it out.
Your wisdom enriches my life and the lives of those around us and I thank you.