This annual national event is driven by The Good Grief Trust, the UK’s leading umbrella charity, bringing all UK bereavement services, support organisations and helplines together under one central database. Offering early signposting to a choice of support for both the bereaved and those working with them.
Julia Samuel; “it isn’t the circumstances of the death that will predict a positive or negative outcome, it is the support they get at the time and after the death This is the key component to anybody finding a way to rebuild their life.”
is an alliance of practitioners, therapists, policy specialists,
organisations, activists and academia who specialise in the areas of
mental health and wellbeing and who’s core purpose during this Covid-19
pandemic is to bring the mental health needs of the Black, Asian and
Minority Ethnic community into the mainstream.
Covid-19 is having
a devastating impact and we have come together to support the
development and delivery of mental health and wellbeing services to
ensure that the needs of our local communities are being met as a result
of this pandemic and crisis.
Together as an alliance we are working to ensure that culturally appropriate therapeutic, psychological and social interventions are integrated in the mainstream, and that they are widely available and accessible.
“Losing my brother-in-law during lockdown inspired me to create a fund for grieving Black and Minority Ethnic families”
Alex’s death inspired me to take action and launch the Majonzi Fund. As a family, we needed a way to say goodbye.
As a social commentator, campaigner and cultural historian,
throughout my career I’ve documented the inequalities faced by people
from ethnically diverse backgrounds. This inequity has only become more
apparent during the pandemic. Coronavirus has affected Black and
Minority Ethnic families around the country, including mine.
My brother-in-law, Alex, was in hospital in Derby. While he was there, they tested him for coronavirus and he was found to be positive. Soon after the test, his health deteriorated. As a family, we were very worried. He was unwell for days and sadly died at the start of April.
Struck by grief
Six months on and we’re all still struggling to come to terms with
losing Alex. It’s something that’s affected the whole family, though
thankfully those closest to him were able to say goodbye. We’re a close
family, so we’re supporting each other as best we can.
Around the time of Alex’s death, we started to hear in the news that a
disproportionate amount of Black and Minority Ethnic people were dying
from coronavirus – front-line healthcare workers and those working in
transport and retail. As an activist, I’d already got involved with a
campaign calling for one of the Nightingale Hospitals to be renamed in
recognition of Black nurse Mary Seacole. Losing Alex pushed me to want
to do more.
Creating a fund
All the stories in the newspapers and on TV were about other families
who’d lost loved ones or been unable see their family in their final
moments. People weren’t able to grieve properly or follow the proper
burial processes for their different faiths.
That’s when it hit me – wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could raise
money to support those families? To enable them to organise events,
commission poetry – whatever it is that they want to do to remember
their loved ones. We could also support co-workers who’ve lost
colleagues on the frontline to mark their grief in a way they feel is
So the Majonzi Fund was born – ‘Majonzi’ is the Swahili word for
grief or deep sorrow. I gained support for the fund from Yvonne Field,
founder and director of Ubele – a Black-led organisation that has also
been playing a key role in the response to the affects of coronavirus on
Black and Minority Ethnic communities.
Yvonne and her team were supportive of my idea as they could see how
it would benefit the communities Ubele supports. We came up with the
‘Majonzi’ name together – we wanted a word that captures the diversity
of the Black and Minority Ethnic experience in Britain. Swahili is
spoken by people in Africa from many different faiths and communities,
as well as here in the UK. It just seemed to fit.
The Majonzi Fund launched at the end of April and, six months in,
we’ve raised more than £80,000 to support Black and Minority Ethnic
families. From the woman who runs a yoga class for Majonzi, through to
the company making limited edition T-shirts for us, the London Gospel
Community Choir donating royalties from their song The Sun in the Rain,
and the author, Riaz Phillips, who put together an e-recipe book with
recipes from different diaspora communities, the response has been
As a Winston Churchill Fellow, I was awarded a grant so I could
develop the Majonzi Fund website, which is going to be the main vehicle
for letting Black and Minority Ethnic people know about when and how
they can apply for grants. They can download application forms and, when
they’re organising events around their loved ones, they can post
information and share events.
A tsunami of need
There have been more than 50,000 deaths since March. Some Black and
Minority Ethnic households may have lost more than one person. There’s a
tsunami of need. How are those needs going to be met in the short,
medium and long term? We’ve used some of the money raised through the
Majonzi Fund to provide bereavement services to the communities we
support – communities which often miss out on counselling.
On top of this, we want to do more lobbying, campaign work, advocacy
and to reach out to other organisations, such as Marie Curie, to see how
they’re meeting the needs of Black and Minority Ethnic communities.
BAMEstream, a network of activists and therapists, found many
organisations looking for additional support, resources, funding and
training so they could be more responsive to the mental health needs of
the diverse communities they support.
We want to open a dialogue to see how those who can help are going to
rise to the challenge, because a lot of people need support.
One thing we should do, as a nation, is to come together in
collective remembrance. It’s so important that events such as Marie
Curie’s National Day of Reflection
are inclusive – without inclusivity, they reinforce the
out-of-date narrative that Black and Minority Ethnic communities don’t
matter and are not worthy of respect, even in death. Grief affects us
all, irrespective of race.
If you’ve been inspired by Patrick’s reflections, you can find out more about and donate to the Majonzi Fund and BAMEstream . Patrick’s latest book, 100 Great Black Britons, documents the remarkable achievements of Black British people over history. If you buy a copy via Amazon Smile , a percentage of what you pay will be donated to Marie Curie. Patrick will be speaking at the Good Grief virtual festival on Friday 30 October, with his talks available on catch-up afterwards.
Monday, Vernon, deputy mayor for social integration Debbie Weekes-Bernard,
mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville, and artist Henny Beaumont unveiled
Beaumont’s six-metre artwork in Newington Green. It shows BAME faces in yellow
stars on a dark blue, starry background. “We’ve had a very positive response,”
Beaumont told us, adding that the few guests allowed to come were moved.
said: “This artwork is a reminder of the grief of those thousands of
colleagues, friends and family members they have left behind.”
added this morning that as the country approaches a second wave “there’s
nothing visible” that acknowledges “those frontline workers who’ve died”.
The Majonzi Fund is pleased to announce the launch of a new public artwork by artist Henny Beaumont, commissioned by Patrick Vernon OBE, to be displayed in Newington Green, London and commemorating members of London’s BAME communities who have lost their lives to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The artwork will be formally unveiled on September 21st by Patrick Vernon OBE, founder of the Majonzi Fund, and Debbie Weekes-Bernard, Deputy Mayor of London.
The 6m x 3m artwork (pictured above), is by renowned artist and illustrator Henny Beaumont, who lives in the local area. It was commissioned by the Majonzi Fund to raise funds to support the BAME community, which has disproportionately suffered from the pandemic. Guardian Newspaper is supporting the Majonzi fund. A charity print is available from : https://guardianprintshop.com/collections
The production and installation of the artwork was made possible with the support of Accumulate, which supports arts and creativity among London’s homeless, and the Mildmay Club who generously provided the installation site.
For all media inquiries and if you would like to attend the launch, please contact: Anita Duda from Ubele email@example.com Patrick Vernon firstname.lastname@example.org For high res. jpg contact email@example.com
The London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC) has gifted a promotional song “Sun in the Rain” to support the Majonzi Fund which raises funds to provide small grants to help families and work colleagues, community and faith groups to organise memorial events and supports affected community members to access bereavement counsellors and therapists.
As data shows, BAME communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, making up some 14% of the UK population, and being impacted at some 35% (Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre, 4 April 2020). The Majonzi Fund is run as a GoFundMe campaign that was started on 21st of April by Patrick Vernon, OBE and the Ubele Initiative and has since raised almost 40k. The proceeds of the song will go to the fund.
Patrick Vernon, OBE said: “This is fantastic that one of the most successful and respected Gospel Choirs in Europe are supporting the fundraising efforts as part of the community response to COVID-19. The Majonzi Fund will provide small grants to help families, work colleagues, community groups organise memorial events for BAME individuals who have died as a result of COVID-19. Having lost a family member to COVID-19, it is important that families and local communities have the support around bereavement counselling and the opportunity to commemorate the life of loved ones’.”
Over the past week members of the choir have taken to social media to share their experiences with COVID-19 and why supporting BAME communities is crucial during these times. The song’s message is a beacon of hope during difficult times like these.
Bazil Meade, MBE, Founder and Director of the London Community Gospel Choir says: “I take great pleasure in joining my Colleagues London Community Gospel Choir being part of the initiative by “The Majonzi Fund” providing help and support to BME families and communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
The song “Sun in the Rain” can be streamed on all major streaming sites like Spotify, Amazon and iTunes.