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IPIA Roundtable Feature Series (Part 1): Lisa Cherry and Bazil Meade

Ahead of our annual ‘Inclusive Practice In Action’ conference (IPIA), we are sitting down to hear from each of our inspirational speakers, learning more about who they are, what they do, and their hopes and intentions for our all-day event on 7 April!

In Part 1 of this exciting ongoing series, we speak to international trainer, author, researcher and consultant on trauma, resilience and recovery – Lisa Cherry, and the co-founder and creative director of the highly acclaimed London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC) – Bazil Meade.


Tell us a little bit about yourself:

Lisa: I’m a mother of two adult children, which I rarely say first, interestingly, but I’m going to start saying it first, I think. I’m an author and speaker and researcher on trauma, resonance, and resilience. I spend far too much time working. Work and play, and the home and personal and professional and academic is all merged into one thing, which is me.

Bazil: I am Bazil Meade, co-founder, of the London Community Gospel Choir. I came from the island of Montserrat, many, many moons ago. [I] have lived in the UK most of my life. The Choir is in its 40th year, and we hope to have some celebration during the course of the year.

What do you do and what are you passionate about?

Lisa: My passion is about creating better outcomes for children and young people by seeking to not add to harm where there has already been harm. [I work] very closely with systems, schools and services, supporting them to work in ways that help, that support, that offer different practices under a trauma informed framework, that don’t add to harm.
I might work with entire local authorities or partnerships; I’m doing a big piece of work with the West Yorkshire partnership, and that’s supporting them as a consultant to realise their ambition to become trauma informed by 2030. I might work with a service. I might work with a charity or a small organisation or a social work team, or a fostering service, to help them realise their ambitions. Whether that’s to become more trauma informed and to develop what they offer, or whether that’s to help their team focus more on co-production or health and wellbeing.
I’ll work with schools where I will do whole-school training that supports and helps that school work in ways that support children, particularly children who have had adverse childhood experiences, or are living with or have experienced trauma, to support school environments to help when those children display behaviours that we might find challenging, but are actually communication, which is they’re struggling with something in much the same way as we all communicate our internal distress, children do so and rely on the adults around them to be able to manage that. This week, I’m working with an organisation on embedding trauma informed practices, and they work as part of the probation service.

Bazil: My main activity is maintaining and fully securing my legacy, [that] being the organisation that is the London Community Gospel Choir. It is a music entity, but it stands for much more than that. When we first formed, we were very much a church community, in that all the members came from the Black-led Pentecostal churches. The idea behind the choir was to unite, maybe three or four different choirs, and to have a mass choir that celebrated the music that was so popular in the Black-led Church. It was not to establish something that would be here for 40 years. But people were hearing through the ground that there was this new thing going on in East London. People just wanted to be part of this thing, and so it took over. [LCGC is] an opportunity to get out there and practice the Christian teachings into the world and spread the word. To teach, show love, and respect. To encourage people to live confidently. At the heart of it I think we all want to continue sharing our Christian faith.
I’ve worn the label or the name Godfather, of British Gospel. I’ve taken all the hits, for doing risky things, for challenging the status quo, for wanting to be different, to follow my convictions… and I wouldn’t want it any different! Because I think I’m living honestly and just following my convictions. I think the only way we will spread love, peace, stand up against Racism, and all the negative things that go with that, is by using the platforms that we are given, because of who we are, because of our quality, because of the standards that we have set. We must use those platforms to encourage, inspire, to educate.

What are the reasons that you decided to do what you do today?

Lisa: I don’t know if we decide to take on such a massive endeavour. I worked for 20 years in children’s services, and then in education. And then it was about 12 years ago, that I left working for a local authority, and decided that I wanted to become self-employed, and I’ve remained so ever since.
[Working for a local authority] took me into a much more systems way of thinking in terms of bringing people together, building relationships, and actually was such a good piece of work to have to inform the work that I’ve been doing for the last 12 years, which is around relationship building, and prevention. That journey, that 12-year journey of being self-employed, has resulted in writing books, and undertaking research, doing a masters and now doing my doctorate. All led from a passion that is often found where people have particular lived experiences, and move into that professional space, and then start to want to embed some of that in academic literature. I was invited to speak somewhere many years ago. And that turned out to be the beginning of professionally speaking.

Bazil: I attended a church where there was a female youth leader. I think she saw something in me. Saw that I carried a very angry face. She pulled me aside and start talking to me. One evening, she was playing piano, and she said, ‘Come over and pull up a chair’. I watched her and she said, ‘Come on, come on, come and try’. I said ‘No, I can’t play’ [and] she said, ‘I’ll show you’. She introduced me to play piano that evening. That was my first proper experience of it. She prayed and laid her hands onto my hands and asked God to give me the ability to play music to help to heal, to help people find healing through the music.
I fell in love with the music. I saw the transformation in my life and I wanted to help others to have that experience. My family were born into it, they’re all artists, singers, and musicians. I think seeing the impact it has on people’s lives and travelling the world, whatever culture, whatever language, I saw the impact it has on people. For me, I couldn’t think of doing anything else, because I totally loved it, I still love it.

Who are the people that engage with your work?

Lisa: I’m always working on behalf of children and young people. But the people who are more likely to read my books or listen to my podcast are going to be educators, social workers, health visitors, housing workers – anybody who’s working with vulnerability, and as I say, all the time, adults have been children and children will become adults. For me, if we have children in our life and we’ve been a child, then there’s always an opportunity to become a better version of ourselves, which will invariably help any children that are around us and the children that our children will have.

Bazil: I think it’s the partners that I collaborate with, many well-known artists who I’ve got long standing relationships with, venues like the Royal Albert Hall, who seem to love what we do so they invite [LCGC] to come in to do a special show. It’s probably one of the most iconic venues in the world. You’ve got some amazing artists that we’ve worked with over the years, just wonderful people, people wouldn’t realise but we’ve sung about on about three of Madonna’s albums.

What are your hopes are for IPIA? What can people expect to gain by coming to and attending your session?

Lisa: My hope is always for openness, for suspending judgement, and for connection. I feel that this event will be far less about any content that I bring and much more about the energy in the room and what each person brings and how that interplays with each other person.
Childhood adversity and carrying the burdens of trauma are far more common than we imagine. When we think about trauma-informed ways of being, we are in the process of acknowledging and understanding that there is no ‘them’ and ‘us’. If we understand that, we can develop our compassion and our empathy, and that extends beautifully to the children and young people that we’re working with, and we can create ripples of compassion and kindness, which then can generate connection, which enable us to start to think about how we heal. My hope for [IPIA], is that we can invite ourselves into that process in a deeper way, regardless of whether we are at the beginning of that journey, or well and truly engrossed in it, there is always more road to walk.

Bazil: I will be open and honest. I think it’s important for people to see that you don’t have to be born into privilege to achieve, and in order to achieve, you’ve got to be committed to your dream, you’ve got to have resilience because there will be moments when you don’t feel like doing it.
I hope people will go away feeling inspired if they were doubting themselves. I’d like to encourage young people to be your own person. The ideas you have don’t have to be like everybody else’s. You are a unique person, so allow that side of you to be free – let it loose so it can create. People are more likely to remember you for being different than if you just drop in line and be like everybody else. I’d like to encourage our individuality. The real quality to you and to your community, to what you can achieve in life, is about you developing your individuality.
I think I’d like to impress upon people that listen to me, [that] we need to look at our situations and look at our inequalities in terms of; how prepared are we to dig deep and find the strength to stay with our ambitions, to grow our ambitions, to succeed at all costs?

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Lisa: Everyone arrives at such a different place into this thinking, and for some people, it might be the first time that they’ve thought about the impact of trauma – not just on the young people they’re working with – but on themselves. We can only meet someone as deeply as we’ve met ourselves, so going within becomes vital when we’re working with children and young people. That’s challenging, because it’s not necessarily what we signed up for, but it is what children and young people who rely on the adults outside of the home depend upon.

Bazil: I feel strongly that here in the UK, [Black people] are underrepresented in so many ways; business, leaders, we are not visible enough, we’re not vocal enough. One of the engines that drive me is leaving a legacy that can inspire and encourage others, while watching me and coming after me, because we don’t have many. We don’t have many organisations that are founded by Black people, being led by Black people, and our successes that we can celebrate. That has always been close to my heart.

 

Thank you for joining us for Part 1 of the IPIA Roundtable Feature! Stay tuned as we will be back with words from our other inspirational speakers in the coming weeks!


Lisa Cherry

Lisa Cherry is an author and a leading international trainer and consultant, specialising in assisting those in Education, Social Care and Adoption and Fostering to understand trauma, recovery and resilience for vulnerable children, young people and their families. Lisa has over 30 years of experience in this field and combines academic knowledge and research with professional skills and personal experience.

Lisa’s MA research looked at the impact on education and employment for care experienced adults who experienced school exclusion as children in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Currently, Lisa is undertaking her DPhil studies at The University of Oxford in the Department of Education, asking the research question “How do care-experienced adults understand being excluded from school in relation to ‘belonging?”
Lisa is the author of the hugely successful book ‘Conversations that make a difference for Children and Young People‘ and also ‘The Brightness of Stars: Stories from Care Experienced Adults to Inspire Change‘.

Twitter: @_LisaCherry

 

Bazil Meade

Born in the Montserrat, Bazil Meade is the charismatic and multi-talented vocalist, pianist and leader of Europe’s premier vocal ensemble, the London Community Gospel Choir. Moving to England at aged nine family circumstances caused him to leave home in his teens. His ambition was to bring the two fundamental aspects of his life together, his faith and music, to inspire and entertain audiences. Having built up a legion of dedicated fans the choir perform regularly to audiences all over the world.

Many of the greatest musical artists have called upon the services of Bazil and the choir including Madonna, Sting, Sir Paul McCartney, Brian May, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Luther Vandross and Kylie Minogue. Bazil can turn his hand to any type of genre and his and the choir’s versatility have made them the first point of call for soulful vocals for high profile concerts and recordings.

As well as with the choir, Bazil runs his own vocal workshops around the world and also the Bazil Meade Experience – Bazil on keys with 3 backing vocals and the band, an imitate performance.

His book A Boy, A Journey, A Dream tells the story of his life with the choir. The foreword written by Sir George Martin.

Awarded the MBE in 2018 for Services to Gospel Music. If you talk about British Gospel Music you are talking about Bazil!

Twitter: @BazilMeade

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