Joe Dzenga, co-founder and Treasurer of Teen Flavour talked to me about the work Teen Flavour is doing in Manchester, to get Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), Refugees, Asylum Seekers and other disadvantaged groups to engage in society through music, art and other community-related activities.
The Community group actively seeks to interact with people who would not normally get involved in community projects. Joe, said: “We realised that a lot of refugee families from places like, Zimbabwe, Congo Afghanistan, and Iraq are stuck in their houses, feel isolated and are not always willing to participate in community activities.”
Joe described Teen Flavour as providing a safe space for people to discover their talents, develop potential and encourage community integration and coercion through creativity.
One of the popular activities that Teen Flavour offers to the community is the chance to have free lessons in ‘Stone carving the Zimbabwean way’ every Saturday from 9am to 12pm at Oldham Gallery, Manchester.
They use stone carving as a way to tell a story, evoke the spirits and explore myths of old, current and future civilisation in a welcoming environment. Some of their work has been on display in the Oldham gallery which opened in 2013.
Joe explained: “We have engaged BAME men through stone carving who suffered domestic violence and are not willing to come out and access help. Many immigrant families settled in Manchester and the changing men and women roles has created imbalances and holes in the fabric of the family nucleus. As such some men are disadvantaged and struggle to cope with ‘women bread winner situations’”.
Teen Flavour also offers free ‘Rwendo’ (the Journey) – African dancing, music, and drumming workshops with live performances every Saturday from 2pm to 4pm at Teen Flavour,Unit 1, Quebec Street, Oldham. They have taken part in black history celebrations at Oldham gallery and participants were “induced into a trance of Afro-rhythmic vibes; fine tuned piercing voices and vibrating echoes of Marimba and thumb piano. Our project offers people the chance to integrate within the community and to get to know their neighbours”.
In the past, Teen Flavour hosted an open mic event with live performances, music, drama, talent show and produced a YouTube video called ‘Gangs and Violence’ in Oldham. It was commissioned by Oldham Council to reach out to ‘difficult to reach communities.
Joe said: “Young people often walk in after school and record tunes onsite and blend rhythms with traditional African instruments like (Ngoma) drums. We work in conjunction with other community groups, schools, colleges, churches and universities to improve racial tolerance and infuse harmony among communities.”
According to Joe, youth unemployment in Oldham is at a peak. They see Teen Flavour as a ‘contemporary instrument’ for young and old people in the area to learn new skills and boost employment opportunities.
In the future, Teen Flavour plan to introduce ‘African Man Parenting’ workshops to support and educate BAME men to engage more with their families and create a ‘Man-Made African Village’ to pass heritage and educate people about ancient civilisation.
Finding new premises for Teen Flavour is one of the biggest challenges that Joe talked about. “We’re looking for bigger premises to accommodate family events, improve disability access. “It is difficult to improve access to our Stone carving activities in winter since we carry out workshops in an open space which is not always convenient especially winter times.
“We are also facing difficulty in accessing long-term funding, nevertheless our work has been supported by different funders. We greatly appreciate our funders for honouring our community activities and the pivotal role they play to drive our vision forward.”
Teen Flavour was founded in 2009 as an unconstituted group and it became a constituted group in 2012. Teen Flavour is also currently in the process of registering as Charitable Interest Organisation (CIO).
If you would like to get involved in Teen Flavour projects or become a volunteer contact firstname.lastname@example.org