“You will never fit in!”
That was the repeated statement from some of my teachers and peers in secondary school when they found out my friends and I had entered a competition that would end up changing my life. Coming from what was labelled as a failing school in Croydon, I didn’t blame them. They were right – I wouldn’t fit in. 4 young people from ethnic minority groups representing the UK at a global summit seemed like a pipe dream. Those words could have been crippling, but instead they fuelled me.
In July 2009, we won and were chosen to accompany the UK government to the G8 summit in Italy. We went through a rigorous application process at Unicef UK, and were selected out of 400 groups for this once in a lifetime opportunity. At the summit, we met some of the most powerful world leaders and decision makers of the 8 nations. I have continued to occupy spaces that someone like me typically wouldn’t fit into, because those spaces need people like me. Those spaces need you.
From working in Parliament, to being a board member of an international charity, to then co-founding a global youth organisation – I refused to use my upbringing or background as an excuse. If I wanted other young black men like myself to see themselves in similar positions, then I had to try. I am glad that ‘they’ said I wouldn’t fit in because it made me realise that if I wanted to have an impact on the world I see, I had to do things differently.
I am honoured to received the Queens Young leader award 2018.
Thank you to everyone that supported me and for those who believed in me! Thank you to @youthforchange global! Without you I couldn’t have done this.”