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JIS News

The West Midlands Caribbean Parents and Friends Association in Wolverhampton is celebrating its Golden Jubilee, marking 50 years of serving the needs of people of Caribbean descent, who have settled in that part of the United Kingston (UK).
One of the oldest Caribbean organisations in the UK, the Association was established in 1959 by a group of concerned individuals, many of whom were from Jamaica, to offer support to what was then a new wave of migrants from the Caribbean, who were settling in Wolverhampton and other nearby communities in the West Midlands.
Some of the concerns at that time were overt racial discrimination, unjust employment practices, education, poor housing, and other major social and cultural issues.
Chairman of the Association, Dencer Brown has credited the survival of the organisation over five decades, to the commitment of its members. “It has been hard work and difficult at times, but the cornerstone of the organisation has been our belief in what we are doing and engaging with people,” he told JIS news.
Mr. Brown said the issues that the organisation has campaigned for and the projects undertaken over the years, have earned it the respect of the community.
Over the years, the West Midland Parents and Friends Association has organised representations to the local council, statutory organisations and national agencies to address the concerns of the Caribbean community. It has campaigned for economic and social justice, equality of opportunity and improvement in policing practice and standards.
It has also pioneered many activities including a supplementary education programme for underachievers, summer play schemes for students, and it is a founder member of the African Caribbean Cultural Centre.
In addition, the Association has organised annual social and cultural events, mentored and facilitated the start of many careers, established a pensioners group and operates a “befriending” group to support the elderly and people who are seriously ill.
Mr. Brown said some of the high points of the organisation’s 50-year existence included achieving charity status and purchasing its own property to house its activities. It has also received many commendations including a citation from the Gleaner Company for its community development work in Wolverhampton and for championing volunteerism.
Next week, there will be a special 50th anniversary dinner to pay tribute to some of the long serving members. Many of the early members have either returned to Jamaica and other Caribbean islands, have passed on or are no longer in good health.
Mr. Brown said the occasion will also be a re-launch for the Association as it seeks to refocus its activities for the future.
He noted that while some of the social and economic issues that it campaigned against in the early years no longer exist, the Association now needs to focus on developing a more enterprising outlook to assist in becoming more self-sufficient in terms of funding.
According to Mr. Brown, the Association will also be undertaking research to develop programmes to make it more attractive to young members and the second and third generation.
“We need to re-energise ourselves and ensure that we are promoting the ideas and concerns of the current situation and generation,” he stated.