Saluting Our Sisters at 42nd Street - Donna
Delve into our team conversation with Donna, part of our Saluting Our Sisters interview series at 42nd Street for Black History Month.
Why do you work at 42nd Street?
I work for 42nd Street for numerous reasons, including, the fact that it is known for being a truly young person-centred organisation. I have worked with children and young people for over 30 years in various settings and I have to say that the culture and ethos at 42nd Street is incredible. There is a level of warmth that makes it feel like a safe environment, as well as demonstrating top-notch professionalism which is a balance that in my opinion many organisations struggle to achieve. Also, I am passionate about supporting young people to reach their potential and in recognising that mental health can sometimes act as a barrier for some people and the various ways in which 42nd Street reaches young people makes it very inclusive. EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) is very important to me so working for an organisation that places importance on being as accessible to as many young people as possible is heartening. I could go on forever about why I work at 42nd Street, but overall it is a charity that I am very proud to be a part of.
As a Black Woman, why do you feel it’s important to do this type of work?
In addition to all the reasons I mentioned above, being a Black female manager in any industry is difficult. I therefore feel that it is important in terms of representation and role modelling.
This year’s BHM theme is ‘Honouring the achievements of Black Women’: What is an achievement of your own that you’d like to share?
Raising my two children to be caring, upstanding, intelligent, talented, creative and overall amazing human beings in a world where there is so much against them based on the colour of their skin alone.
Can you name a black woman in your family or community that you are proud of and describe their unique qualities?
My mum Pauline Sergeant. She has been involved in community work ever since I could remember. In addition to bringing up five daughters and dealing with numerous health issues, she always has a smile on her face and an innate desire to make positive change in the community (I wonder where I get that from!?) My mum was very good friends with other inspirational community leaders like Kath Locke and over the years trained as a person-centred counsellor, worked with Age UK, and been a mentor. Amongst many other things, she has been a chairperson school governor and for the past 10 years, she has been the chairperson for Manchester charity MAV (Mothers Against Violence). To summarise, my mum is a positive force of nature and my Super Hero.
This year’s theme also talks about amplifying voices and challenging systems that oppress: How do you think Black women can challenge oppressive systems?
By continuing to do what we are doing. My voice has been muffled more times than I care to mention, but every so often I am heard and people take heed. This is amplified by the fact that we have some incredible Black women working at 42nd Street who are not only challenging oppressive systems they are changing oppressive systems. Each and every one of them, they know who they are, should be incredibly proud of everything they do and continue to do, to make the world a better place for our future generations.
What does the hashtag #WeMatter mean to you?
I personally prefer the hashtag #RepresentationMatters, seeing it can give hope and inspiration to be it.