Young, black and gifted | The Voice Online

Young, black and gifted | The Voice Online

COMMITTED: Reece Williams is helping combat mental health issues among young, black men through filmmaking

YOUNG BLACK men in Greater Manchester have not been accessing services to support their wellbeing. One city- based organisation has sought to nd the reasons why and combat them with filmmaking.

42nd Street is a charity that supports young people aged 11-25 years with their emotional wellbeing and mental health, promoting choice and creativity.


In 2015, they commissioned a report to look into the barriers perceived by black men to accessing their services. The findings, published in 2017, highlighted a need for more black practitioners and a social stigma attached to the term ‘mental health’.

Service manager, Karina Nyananyo, said: “We identified that young black men were not accessing the talking therapies or early help services at 42nd Street, but are overrepresented in criminal justice services and psychiatric units.

“We wanted to learn more about their help-seeking behaviours to understand who they were receiving support from in their communities and how we could better meet their needs as a mental health service provider for young people.”

In partnership with Survivors Manchester, Theatre in Prisons and Probation (TIPP) and Youth Access, a three-year programme of filmmaking will shortly commence to harness the men’s creative talents and produce unique and original films around the themes of wellbeing and mood.

The training will give youngsters the opportunity to develop soft skills such as communication and teamwork, but will also help to build upon other skills required on film sets such as leadership, decision making and listening.

Young Black Men’s engagement worker, Reece Williams, was recently appointed to deliver the programme in a post funded by Comic Relief. “Our services will be delivered and designed to be more culturally competent for young, black men.

“When the term mental health is mentioned, many young men will not even have that conversation with you because of the stigma attached to those words. Their understanding of mental health is often the guy who walks up and down the street talking to himself and looking dishevelled,” he said.

The workshops and training can be accessed by any black males in Greater Manchester between the ages of 16 and 20, and Reece has embarked on a huge recruitment drive to attract men to the rst wave of workshops due to commence over Easter.

“I think the timing of this project is absolutely vital. We know that a lot of young, black men are experiencing trauma in a range of ways – either acts of violence that are committed against them or committed by family members or friends. However, they may not be accessing support services that can help them to overcome that.”

Reece has a background in film-making and was part of a group of youngsters who produced an award-winning film in association with the charity, Clapperboard UK.

The film Chain of Events focused on hate crime and is available to watch on YouTube. Reece is now looking forward to sharing his expertise along with other black filmmakers to help young men make a positive impact.

To secure a place on the future courses contact Reece on 0161 228 7321 or email

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