The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story Jahswill Emmanuel, North Belfast TLP, Autumn 2020

Jahswill Emmanuel is Chair and founder of MSCNI (Multi-Ethnic Sports and Cultures NI). Here he shares his TLP story.

Jahswill did his TLP course in North Belfast in Autumn 2020, via Zoom. He had already been highly commended by the Community Relations Council for his outstanding good relations work within the community and is nominee for Volunteer of the Year Award with Sports NI and awaiting the result. His course group is now beginning to plan a joint project together and have created a What’s App group to keep in touch. Jahswill has the following advice for anyone thinking of signing up for the course:

“Whether you’re a volunteer or a board member or looking to become a leader, you definitely need this course… it’s just brilliant.”


What motivated you to sign up for the course?

I was motivated to do the course because of the cross community work we are doing – and for the BME community there are not many courses on leadership within the sector. I wanted to learn from experts to develop myself and my organisation and to share my experience with others in ethnic minority groups and to network with others elsewhere in NI. I wanted to know about how to promote peace in NI and to know more about North Belfast.

Experience and Learning

What did you like about the course?

It has contributed to building my skills. These skills may have come in a different way but it would have taken time. This also built my networks – 80% of what I would like to do I can do with participants from the TLP – it really opened the door for connection and collaboration. It’s important because otherwise at the moment, how are you going to make connections? Being online it was a platform that brings everyone together. The online format is easy for people who don’t have time to go out – there’s less time needed because there’s no travel time and it’s hard to be late.

What topics stood out for you?

The visionary leadership module stood out because I founded our organisation with vision in 2016. Back then I was experiencing depression and found myself isolated. I am a social person and like people, so I used football to bring people together and to help me integrate more into society. Looking at the visionary leadership style explained the type of leader I am, I bring people along and carry people along, I loved that.

What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?

As well as visionary leadership, I will also take back collaboration and networking with other people – learning how to collaborate, the risks etc. I’ll also remember the car analogy we used – it simplifies the whole leadership scenario – you have to know where you are going, drive as well as you can, keep driving, and keep your tools ready to keep the car going.

What difference has it made?

Is there anything you could or would do now that you wouldn’t have felt able to do before?

Yes, before I would have been unlikely to try to organise an event engaging some communities in North Belfast where there has been conflict, but now I have made connections that can facilitate my engagement with these communities – if I want to do something with these areas I know who to connect with and work together with – before I wouldn’t have had the guts to do that as I didn’t fully understand it.

Are there people/agencies you feel able to talk to and work with now that you weren’t before?

Yes, Duncairn Community Partnership and CCRF (Cliftonvillle Community Regeneration Forum). And through our project workshop I found out another participant, Jennifer, is linked with youth work so I’d like to work with all of these.

What difference will this make to how you engage in your interface area?

I will be even more focused on youth as they are the ones that can change Northern Ireland. We now have ethnic minority children everywhere, in school, the playground, mixing together, so it’s just a matter of time until there is more tolerance. It’s important to have cultural diversity awareness raising as we know from our youth engagement programme that while there are some friendships, some young people have limited knowledge for example about Africa – they need to know more and then they would be more tolerant.

What difference will the course make to the interface area overall?

Yes the course has the capacity to make a difference – the course is rich enough and the resources are there - it’s just getting people to make a difference. The connections and the networks I got through this course in 6 weeks you couldn’t get in a year. And it doesn’t just finish, there is sustainability for you to progress by doing the project and the funding is there for it.

Whether you’re a volunteer or a board member or looking to become a leader, you definitely need this course. Apart from the knowledge and experience you gain and share, when you listen to others, you see how they manage people - it’s just brilliant. Everyone should be in it to know about leadership – everybody is a leader – you just have to know a bit and know how to practice it. It’s very enjoyable when you’re trying to lead people and developing yourself. It’s good for everyone to have a go at it.

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