Christine Borsah

National Training Award Winner, 2007

An African woman who sought refuge in the UK after her husband and son had been killed, has reached the finals of the National Training Awards 2007.

Christine Borsah of Walthamstow, London E17, has overcome tragedy and language barriers to create a thriving organisation to help young people.

She came to the UK from Ghana in 1994 with her daughter, then aged three, and was housed by Waltham Forest Council.

Christine recalls: “I was suffering from depression and had to seek a lot of professional help from organisations including the Medical Foundation – Care of Victims of Torture.”

She attended a six-month Africa course, run by the World University Service, which was designed to help people set up their own organisations to advocate people’s rights, nationally and internationally.

Christine followed that with further training, attending courses on constitution writing and policies, to help her to set up a community voluntary organisation, and spent time as a volunteer with the Family Services Unit.

“This gave me the opportunity to gain experience as well as build my self esteem and confidence,” she recalls.

Later, in 2000, she set up the African Children’s Club (ACC), which has helped more than 5,000 young people and their parents. The club gives young people a voice through music, dance, art and crafts and creative writing and Christine became the coordinator.

She has used her skills to raise more than £500,000 to run projects in the borough giving young people role models and motivation. She has started a leadership course for 16 to 25 year-olds.

Volunteering, with the homeless and young carers, had shown Christine “how fortunate I was and gave me hope in my personal life.”

She became a part-time community worker, responsible for organising after school activities for young people up to 16 years old.

“For the last five years, I have led ACC to work with many agencies, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally,” she says. “Most of our projects are planned with teachers from the local secondary schools and EduAction, to identify how and where it will contribute to the National Curriculum and help stduents to find teaching jobs overseas.

“We have worked with the Ministry of Defence on the role and contribution made by African Caribbean countries during the 1st and 2nd World Wars.”

“Though I am now 50 years old, I have realised education is the key to success and I have planned to enrol into university to study history and culture,” Christine added.