Develop the growth of Our Mel in S & W Yorkshire

What is Our Mel?

Rooted in Yorkshire and based in Sheffield & Leeds, Our Mel is a not-for-profit group dedicated to exploring cultural identity, Black history and what it means to be a person of colour in Britain today. 

Our Mel was born in November 2016 after the Black Lives Matter protests in July 2016 and has grown into a community of people on a mission to support, encourage, teach and build the community through music, film, arts and education. 

Our Mel centres Black womxn and Black people.

What is Our Mel's Mission?

Our Mel's mission is to support, encourage, teach and build the community through music, film, arts and education. Our Mel aims to create a safe space for all age groups, and ethnicities where exploring culture is encouraged, talent showcased and an embracement of heritage welcomed.

What is Our Mel raising money for?

The below are some of the planned future activities subject to funding raised

- A series of workshops (digital & in-person) exploring the systemic challenges that Black communities in Yorkshire face in the context of mental health and how we can engage in collectively healing practices through storytelling & dance
- A programme of educational materials exploring white privilege and the impact of white privilege on Black and Brown communities & individuals

- A series of seminars and workshops exploring growing up in Yorkshire & being mixed race

- A mentorship programme (six 1 & half-hour sessions) for Black & Brown young people spread across six months

- Train Black and Brown people to become trauma counsellors

- Train and develop Black people to become business mentors

-Support groups for Black and Brown adoptees including transracial adoptees based in South and West Yorkshire *Transracial meaning Black or Brown adoptees adopted by white parents

-  Hire a large room/building in which Our Mel operates out from and holds activities/workshops/events/conferences/festivals

- Provide official educational courses working in partnership with local colleges, schools & universities enabling Black & Brown people to complete various programmes and obtain lifetime qualifications and skills. 

Long term vision: Our Mel owns an Enterprise Centre representing a long term commitment to building the Black community 

         - The building will host a computer room for access and learning
         - A community kitchen for cooking lessons
         - A  library and bookstore to offer business resources
         - A coffee shop
         - A theatre 
        - Dance studios 
        - Music studios
        - Art studios
        - Rooms for business's to hire 

- Provide official educational courses working in partnership with local colleges & schools, enabling Black & Brown individuals to complete various programmes and obtain lifetime qualifications and skills. 

- Upgrade the website to include a platform to promote Black & Brown artists

What does Our Mel do?

 Our Mel delivers workshops and seminars on equality, specifically supporting businesses to combat structural racism and bias embedded in their working culture.

Our Mel runs development programmes and creative community events, empowering and inspiring womxn to become leaders and make positive, sustainable change

Our Mel launched Sheffield's first Black History Month festival; MELANIN FEST® in 2017 as well as establishing a festival in London the same year. In October 2018, Our Mel launched MELANIN FEST® in Leeds.

Some examples of what Our Mel has done over the last three years

- In 2017, Our Mel created and delivered Sheffield's first Black History Month Festival, including providing a platform for womxn aged 22-25 to develop and lead workshops on issues surrounding mental health relating to Black womxn. The workshops included cultural understanding, the barriers faced by Black and Brown communities as well as learning how to have open conversations around mental health. 

- In 2018, Our Mel hosted an event called And Still, and I Rise – Womxn's Empowerment event at Theatre Deli Sheffield. The event was a safe space for aimed at Black and Brown womxn who may not usually have access to attend such sessions. Our Mel held space for womxn to come forward and take ownership up of leading a wellbeing activity as well as encouraging those who hadn't performed before in public to perform. 

- In 2018, Our Mel curated a photography exhibition on the exploration of Black womxn local to Sheffield. The idea behind the exhibition was to showcase Black womxn due to the lack of representation in Sheffield. Our Mel commissioned an emerging female photographer and an emerging female videographer to produce photography and film. The exhibition was shown on ITV Calendar news, and both the photographer and videographer were talent-spotted for new projects. 

- In 2019, Our Mel hosted a two-hour race and equality awareness workshop for the Yorkshire Diversity Forum. The workshop focused on racial equality and diversity.

*Our website is currently being updated but you can visit it here:


Annalisa Toccara

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