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ANNUAL STATEMENT February 2017 – January 2018

Learning Links International CIC (LLI) has achieved the programme we set out for our seventh year, again working mainly in North Wales this year. We have been successful in taking the opportunities to develop our approach in education / entertainment related to telling the stories of our “shared histories” and the management of the Jamaica Wales Alliance. Discussions with Arts Council Wales and Wales Arts International indicated ways that we needed to explore to realign our “Objects” and to strengthen the management of Learning Links International and this proved a valuable focus during the year.

In response to this, we have undertaken an extensive review and evaluation of our business plan, as we position the company’s focus to support the creative team we have developed in North Wales. We have also started to engage with local support groups in Wales eg Mantell Gwynedd, to improve our community networking and engagement.

We have continued to embrace the purpose and initial aims stated in our Community Interest Company (CIC) purpose and aims as a social enterprise, “to provide benefit to a number of sections of the UK community, as well as the communities we are working with internationally”. In September 2017 Companies House accepted our updated Objects:

to undertake arts and entertainment activities, education, training and research with communities across all sections of the UK Community, as well as communities we are working with internationally:

by creating opportunities through arts and entertainment, workshops  and presentations which support and increase understanding about our shared histories, heritage and languages

by engaging in projects that lead to research into shared histories and that promote discussion about countries which experience the ongoing impact of colonialisation

by engaging and training volunteers from local communities to develop their skills and talents to engage and support projects that promote the aims of the company

by promoting equality and diversity throughout the activities that the company undertakes

In January 2018 when submitting the Companies House “Confirmation Statement”: we added “Educational Support Services” to the list of 4 categories now allowed for “Nature of business (SIC)”

85520 - Cultural education

85600 - Educational support services

90010 - Performing arts

90020 - Support activities to performing arts

Rev Dr Garnet Parris formally retired as a Director in August 2017 as he lives mainly in Germany now, but has agreed to still take on the role of advisor and we appreciate his willingness to continue to share his extensive knowledge and experience with us.

Two new Directors were formally welcomed to the LLI Board in January 2018. Both have taken and very active interest in the work of Learning Links International since our launch as a CIC in 2011:

Caroline Sandsome is a qualified teacher and active Community Researcher. She has been the mainstay in enabling us to develop and create a base for LLI in North Wales. Caroline is Welsh speaking and has worked and volunteered with the National Trust at Penrhyn Castle for many years. Caroline has agreed to take on responsibilities as Finance Director for Learning Links International and has identified Dawn Thomas from Ladybug Accounting, which is based in Caernarfon, to take on book keeping and submission of accounts for LLI.

Dr Raymond Afolarin Olayinka has Nigerian heritage and has a PhD in “Knowledge Management”. His knowledge of West Africa and academic links will be a great advantage to us, and we intend to explore the work he has done in Knowledge Management to the transfer of understanding of historical knowledge to ensure that histories are remembered and our understanding is refreshed as time goes by.

Liz Millman, Susan Barnes and Natalie Fagan Brown continue as Directors, and we are delighted that Jamaican Dub Poet and Rastafari Ambassador, Yasus Afari, who was one of the creators of the concept of “Learning Links International” continues to advise and support the development of Learning Links International.

We are fortunate to have Welsh language speaking Advisors to the Board of Learning Links International: Dr Marian Gwyn, who is an internationally recognised specialist in Black History; Dr Jessica Clapham, a specialist in language issues, and writing for health and well being; Rhiannon Mon Jones, an Anglesey based community activist.

We have also worked to develop links with bilingual cultural practioners, including poets, researchers and storytellers, to advise, guide and lead in our activities in Wales including: bilingual, experimental poet Rhys Trimble and Capoeira specialist, Colin Daimond, as well as Jamaican story teller, Joy Roxborough, with her wonderful character Anancy!

The contribution made by Learning Links International activists to develop and deliver activities during Black History Month in Wales since 2007, saw recognition by Race Council Cymru for Liz Millman, Yasus Afari, Marian Gwyn and Caroline Sansome presented with certificates, as well as our close colleagues John Wyer from the North Wales Jamaica Society, Maggie Ogunbawo from Watersprings, Colin Daimond from Capoeira Mocambo and Lamin Touray. During the month the Learning Links International team, our advisors and consultants worked with numerous community groups, raising awareness and knowledge relating to Black History and its links with Wales, and celebrating the achievements of Black people.  See Appendix 2 on the full LLI Annual Report on www.learninglinksinternational.com

Learning Links International has worked with 2 schools in North Wales through the Cwych Project, funded by Arts Council Wales, and managed by Colin Daimond, as well as running 3 Jamaica Days with Yasus Afari, in schools in Bethesda. We also put on an event with Bangor University through the African Caribbean Society, who this year awarded Liz Millman with a trophy in recognition for her “Outstanding Contribution to the African Caribbean Society 2016 / 2017”.

Early in 2016, Arts Council Wales funded the “JamRy” project to enable us to research the links between Jamaican Poetry and Welsh Poetry: see www.jamry.com. This proved fascinating and took us into the area of exploring the development of Eisteddfod in Jamaica which was described in article was published in “Yr Enfys” the Journal of Wales International in December 2017. We also made links with Literature Wales and the National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn, and other local poets who worked with Jamaican Poet Yasus Afari.

During the year we have developed the formal link between Jamaica and Wales as the “Jamaica Wales Alliance” supported by Welshman based in Jamaica, Jonathan Greenland, Director of the Museum of Jamaica and Jamaican Poet, Yasus Afari, please check www.jamaicawalesalliance.com  

Exploration of further areas for research has been the focus of discussions and workshops with local historical researcher, Dr Marian Gwyn, who has been very active in supporting LLI and BHM, as well as continuing developing and delivering talks for local organisations and community groups, covering initial research into the production of Welsh Plains cloth, which was extensively used for barter in West Africa. Our research with the Watersprings Historical Research Team in Penygroes is exploring the life and times of Jack Ystymllyn, a Black boy, and other young people brought to work for families in North Wales.

Bay of Colwyn Town Council funded LLI to do further research into the story of the African Institute and the life and times of Rev. William Hughes, as well as putting on an event to welcome the Charge d’Affaire from the Congolese Embassy to Colwyn Bay for a Remembrance Service. LLI has also been working with the City of Bangor and the community of Bethesda, to develop Civic Links with the Parish of Clarendon, in Jamaica and the community of Pennants in Jamaica. Bangor Rotary Club, May Pen Rotary Club, in Clarendon, Jamaica, and the Rotary District of North Indiana, are working with LLI on a project to refurbish schools in Pennants, Jamaica.  Outside our Black History focus, LLI has also worked with the Town Council in Beaumaris, Anglesey, to revive links with Beaumaris, as well as extending the links with Anglesea.

In 2016, Learning Links International changed strategy and stood down from taking the lead in managing Black History Month in North Wales but chose to work under the management of Race Council Cymru which is the organisation now leading on Black History Month across Wales. However, in 2017 Learning Links International was supported by a small grant from Arts Council Wales which enable us to work with a number of community groups, this was facilitated by Race Council Cymru to create a diverse programme of activities through our strong partnership links with the North Wales Jamaica Society, NWAMI/CCE, The African Caribbean Students Union and others.

Again, many thanks go to all the artistes, academics and volunteers who have been involved in the work of the company and its varied projects, and those who have helped with advice during the year and who continue to support Learning Links International in developing future projects.

Prepared by the Directors of Learning Links International CIC  15 02 18                                              

Learning Links International CIC Annual Report 2017 - 18 

Learning Links International CIC Annual Report 2016 - 17

Learning Links International CIC Annual Report 2015 - 16 

Learning Links International CIC Annual Report 2014 - 15 

Learning Links International CIC Annual Report 2013 - 14 

Learning Links International CIC Annual Report 2012 - 13

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