SOAS experience inspired me to launch award winning​ social enterprise

Karima Mbarak, BA Development and Politics

I remember walking past SOAS students campaigning outside Brunei Gallery in 2016. I wanted to know where they got the passion and consistency from because at that time I could never imagine running or organising a campaign, protest or just confidently showing the rest of the world my deep passion for a political topic. I guess I was fighting with my own personal insecurities. After 4-6 months of seeing SOAS students consistently outside organising protests, campaigns or just raising awareness of particular issues, their consistency really began to hit me. I realised I was truly inspired, and their activities had really impacted me over the previous few months.

“Keeptlking will continue to shine the little light in the world that I saw the SOAS students holding when I walked past silently in ore watching them as they passionately campaigned outside Brunei Gallery the first day I arrived at SOAS.”

One day I just stood there and for the first time I decided to wait and look around. I managed to ask one student “why do you do this? Do you think it will make a difference? ” The student smiled and replied, “I do this because I care, and many people do not. Yes, I believe being the little light in this dark world does make a difference because it may not be a big light but it continues to keep this world positive”.  

I walked away in awe and really thought about my actions as an individual and human that would maintain the little light the student mentioned. I realised that I was passionate about mental health in BAME communities and wanted to explore this topic further. I began to do research into the issues that BAME communities were facing and thought about creative ways in which I could help improve conversations about mental health at the grassroots of the BAME communities in the UK. Wasting no time, I created an Instagram page (find us @keeptlking on Instagram) with no logo, no content and asked people to follow my page as it underwent construction in time to have serious conversations about the provision, accessibility, and utilisation of mental health services in the UK. At this time, I knew very little about running a business. I was already in contact with housing association Peabody Housing who are excellent when it comes to working with young people to inspire and achieve goals. They placed me on a leadership course and they also put me in touch with an organisation called Bootstrap Company where I learned about the basics of running a business over a 10-week enterprise course with an opportunity to win funding. Having never pitched in my life, I came second place to win £250 and ½ a day’s business support from the Bootstrap team. I used this experience to try and aim for bigger funding. I applied for a £3000 from a new initiative called ‘’Make My Mark’ where there were 14 applicants and I was one of the winners of £3000 that I could use towards my business. Thereafter, I had my first event in October where 30 young people attended.

The workshop was informative, and debate based where we deliberated on mental health issues BAME young people are facing in the community. We even made it to ‘New Life Radio’ and also the West End Extra newspaper. This year I have already had a team meeting and we have planned all our workshops and we want to interact closely with local schools and businesses. We want to try and influence the policy making process in the UK by allowing young people in our workshops to learn about policy-making and formulate policy recommendations that could influence the government on the topic of mental health provision and utilisation of BAME young people.

I guess you can really achieve your dreams if you believe in yourself. This is only the beginning but I have no doubt that with continued passion and confidence Keeptlking will continue to shine the little light in the world that I saw the SOAS students holding when I walked past silently in ore watching them as they passionately campaigned outside Brunei Gallery the first day I arrived at SOAS.

Link to our Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/keeptlking/

Link to the West End extra article: http://westendextra.com/article/student-who-turned-her-life-mental-health-launchLink to the New Life radio interview: https://soundcloud.com/niecey_v/the-411-show-301118-karima-mbarak

Post Author: SOAS Spirit

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