Sheffield's Windrush generation's farming trip to Great Yorkshire Show is a dream come true
“It will be a wonderful experience which will help reconnect many of the members with their heritage.”
So says Maxwell Ayamba, a recent winner of a Pride in Sheffield award from The Star, who is using his prize to pay for a unique trip for some of Sheffield's Windrush generation.
The group of women from the Sheffield and District African Caribbean Community Association – SADACCA – will visit the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate for the first time on July 9 - the event's opening day.
Maxwell, an academic and environmental journalist, was recognised as one of Sheffield’s 2018 Community Champions in a competition funded by The Moor to recognise and celebrate community spirit.
He is using his prize to cover the cost of the trip for the women, who are aged between 50 and 80 years old.
Despite living in Sheffield for many decades, it will be the first time any of the group will have achieved their long-held ambition to visit the show.
Maxwell believes it will be particularly poignant for those who originally came from farming communities in the Caribbean and that it will provide the women with an opportunity to reconnect with their cultural roots.
The group are particularly looking forward to watching the different classes and seeing the variety of livestock taking part.
Maxwell said: “It will be a wonderful experience which will help reconnect many of the members with their heritage. For a number of the group, moving to England detached them from their culture and rural roots, the Great Yorkshire Show is such a special event and a great way to bring back memories of their former life.
“It is difficult for many members of the black and minority ethnic communities to access rural events.
“We do run days out taking groups into the countryside to visit rural locations and working farms, but we firmly believe visiting the Great Yorkshire Show will generate even more interest and encourage more visits to countryside events."
Maxwell set up the Sheffield Environmental Movement to help such communities better access the natural environment.
He said: “There is a lack of black and ethnic minority people in the British environment, in terms of access and participation… which could be down to a host of reasons.”
The history of migration, people moving to the city to find work, social economics, culture, the perception of the British environment as something exclusive and only for the privileged, and lack of action from the government may all be possible explanations, according to Maxwell.
A keen walker, Maxwell decided to set up the environmental charity to meet that need.
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He said: “We know that nature and the environment play a big part in our health and wellbeing, and mental health is a big issue in most communities.
“It’s a vicious circle because they have been excluded and marginalised from the natural world and the environment for many years.
“People think they are superior to other people because of the colour of their skin, or their status in society, and that’s why the world is as it is.
“My organisation breaks those barriers by engaging with minority groups, empowering them, giving them that confidence and self-esteem to be able to go out and experience green spaces.”
Activities offered by the charity are important because they act as therapies that Maxwell describes as ‘preventative care’.
Maxwell argues that the charity can relate well to minority groups because there is an understanding where cultural knowledge is concerned - something other environmental organisations may lack.
The charity attempts to provide members with a sense of belonging and also raises awareness about health issues.
It aims to bring about social transformation through observing and interacting directly with the people involved.
Maxwell said: “When we go out into the countryside, people are so excited. It brings joy into their hearts - what I see is people laughing and people smiling.
“As much as I can get people out there, in the natural world to enjoy nature, help their wellbeing, improve their mental health, then I’m happy.
“It’s a job that involves passion - a job that you sacrifice for the wellbeing of people, it’s not a job that you make money from.
“I’m representing the voice of the voiceless and people who represent the voice of the voiceless are always seen as troublemakers. I promote the good of people, that’s all I’m interested in.
“You can’t change the world but everyone can play their part.
“The only way change can take place is action, and do something practical.”
Visit www.semcharity.org.uk to find out more.