Hi, I’m Last Mafuba, I am the founder and Executive Director of Inini Initiative. I was born and raised kwaMafuva. A small village 20 kilometres south of Masvingo in Zimbabwe and moved to the UK ten years ago, and Coventry has been home since. I view myself as a change maker who is committed to tackling poverty and injustice in my community. I love people. My purpose is to have a positive impact on them and leave behind a lasting legacy through kindness. My vision is a UK where life outcomes for ethnic minorities equal that of mainstream communities. I want to see them reach their full potential; empowered to get into education and employment, become leaders in their chosen fields, manage their health better, live in better housing and out of poverty. My organisation delivers a culturally sensitive mental health service to BME communities and we believe that when people are supported correctly to become aware of their mental health they develop resilience, confidence and improved problem solving capacities and capabilities. Hence, they are able to take care of their physical health, build better relationships, study and/or get into employment, maintain their tenancy, and ultimately get out of poverty. Consequently, when people are self aware and can manage their mental health, it is easier to bring them together to act in the interest of their communities and the common good. On the whole, having a good mental health gets people into work which inspires community cohesion because poverty breeds discrimination, racial tension, social exclusion and other factors that threaten the stability of communities.

Inini Initiative Background

Inini Initiative was founded by Last Mafuba, Susie Brennan and Margaret Msimbe four years ago and in total they have seventy-three years work experience in health and social care, and marginalised groups. Last and Susie both have masters degrees in human rights and law. The team was joined recently by Dr Mathew Nyashanu who is senior lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University. His background includes Education, Journalism and Public Health. Mathew researches widely into issues affecting BME communities including HIV and Female Genital Mutilation. The idea of starting Inini, came from Last’s experiences of challenges she encountered while trying to integrate into her new community when she first arrived in the UK and the processes she went through to get to a place where she was able to settle and be happy. She was made aware through her own journey of the impact of the integration process on mental health, and that BME communities were unable to access the support they need.

The Inini Approach

Inini is a Karanga word to mean ‘the self’. The organisation is positioned in the Karanga culture framework which believes ‘the self’ is not separate from the world but united and intermingled with the social environment. The Karanga people believe it is through relations with one’s community and surroundings that an individual becomes a person of volition whose actions and decisions affect the entire group rather than just one self. Consequently, if the social environment is broken, ‘the self’ breaks and vice-versa. The Karanga people also believe that if a community rejects a child, they will burn it down to feel its warmth. Hence, Inini works to support BME communities to understand and navigate their new social terrain to achieve a comprehensive cohesion with mainstream society. We provide a safe space for BME communities to meet and connect while engaging in conversation on issues they find challenging in a weekly support group. In these meetings Inini creates awareness of mental health, services available and how to access them, and provide 1-to-1 psychological coaching. Besides delivering this culturally sensitive mental health service to BME communities, Inini also offers to groups and institutions bespoke training on how to interact with BME people, consultancy, talks in the form of seminars, public speaking, and discussions on a range of topics such as migration and homelessness, and they engage with institutions to influence decisions affecting BME people.

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