Case study

Supporting a community group during challenging times

Sam Hudson is part of the leadership team for Derby West Indian Community Association (DWICA). The organisation experienced many challenges during the pandemic and joining the Smart and Inclusive Leadership (SAIL) programme has helped Sam develop the resilience and strategic skills to ensure DWICA continues to make a positive impact within the community.

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Key motivations and benefits

The Derby West Indian Community Association (DWICA) is a registered charity, first established in 1955. DWICA works in collaboration with funders, local authorities and other community groups to advance and promote the wellbeing of the local West Indian community.

The Association is perhaps most well-known for its annual Caribbean Carnival, which parades through the city each year. Sam Hudson is troupe leader for Cultural Roots Carnival Troupe (CRCT) Derby Caribbean Carnival. Her role involves supporting UK wide tours with partner cities, programme planning, fundraising and leading workshops for children to help them develop skills in areas such as dance, costume design and costume making.

When the pandemic began, Sam soon realised they needed to find a different way to interact with their troupe members. “The pandemic hit us hard. The Caribbean Carnival is a big part of our cultural roots, and we soon realised that we’d have to cancel our tour which was a big disappointment. Not only that, but many members of our community had suffered bereavements within their families, and we weren’t able to offer our usual in-person support. As a member of the leadership team, others look to us for answers when things are challenging, and I knew the community needed the charity’s support more than ever.”

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The programme has supported me in developing so many skills. I’ve learned how to think on my feet, identify gaps in the services we offer, have difficult conversations, and speak up on behalf of our community.

Sam Hudson
Derby West Indian Community Association

The team had to respond quickly and started to find ways to move their services online. They soon began offering virtual wellbeing and emotional support as well as providing fun activities such as quizzes and Easter egg challenges to continue to give a sense of social connection. DWICA also offered a hot West Indian meal service to their elderly population who were now much more isolated without regular social groups or church services to attend. In addition, DWICA started a food bank service which was used not only by their community, but those in need within the wider city too.

Building resilience to navigate challenges

Sam believes the SAIL management and leadership programme has really helped her to build the resilience needed during this type of challenging environment. “The programme has supported me in developing so many skills. I’ve learned how to think on my feet, identify gaps in the services we offer, have difficult conversations, and speak up on behalf of our community.” Sam really enjoyed the learning experience too.

“Sarah our facilitator, taught us in a way that made the content feel far less daunting than I thought it would be. It was really easy to digest and she made it a fun environment to learn in. Now when I’m faced with a challenging situation, I’m able to apply the models we learnt which help me to keep calm, step back from the situation and re-configure. In fact, the whole experience has inspired me so much, I’m considering returning to Higher Education. I’d definitely recommend the programme to others.”

Participants on the programme share their learning experience with professionals from a variety of different sectors and backgrounds, something that Sam found really useful. “It was good to hear how others deal with challenging situations such as conflict resolution. We were able to share tips and learn from each other.”

Implementing skills learnt to benefit the community

Sam is already using the skills she developed as part of the programme. “I’m currently writing a bid for the arts council, and I’ve been able to put the skills I’ve learned during the programme to good use. It’s helped me to think much more strategically.” The organisation is also taking on larger projects, due to some of the issues highlighted by the pandemic, such as digital poverty. Although a lot of their services moved online, many were still unable to access these because they didn’t have laptops, computers or tablets. “We’ve been able to access funding offered by Children in Need to provide more of our community the equipment they need. There’s still a way to go though, some aren’t able to afford the electricity needed for their laptop and wi-fi, so that’s something else we’re going to be looking into.”

There’s no doubt that the Derby West Indian Community Association has faced several challenges during the pandemic. But thanks to Carnival leaders like Sam and her colleagues, the charity has remained resilient and continues to provide an invaluable service, advocating for some of the most vulnerable members of society.

The SAIL project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). If you or your team are interested in participating in the SAIL programme find out more here.

To discuss working in partnership with us, please contact our Business Enquiry team on +44 (0)800 001 5500 or businessgateway@derby.ac.uk

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Recruit Students and Graduates from the University

In addition to receiving support from our SAIL programme, DWICA has also benefitted from our DRIVEN programme. With support and funding, they were able to increase their team and recruit graduates and students from the University. Find out how DRIVEN could support your business.

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