Sarah Turner: Stand Together To Challenge Racism

Sarah Turner is a mother-of-two and joint headteacher of a nursery school in a Clapham, who devotes her free time to supporting a very special charity.

Carney’s Community, which was set up by her husband, George, engages disadvantaged young people through boxing.

Sarah is also studying to become a therapist and training to be a volunteer at Cruse Bereavement Care, whilst also caring for her two children, Nina, 14, and Nat, 12.

Lulu Luckock talks to her about how we can educate ourselves and our children to challenge negative assumptions and preconceived perceptions.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt during lockdown? 

To be more aware of my emotions and the impact they have on the way that I feel. I find that if I’m more in tune with how I’m feeling, I can change the way I act.

The emotional intelligence work we do with the kids at nursery is also helping me to develop this skill.

Who is your inspiration? 

My parents are my inspiration.

They are by no means perfect but they have shown me how to be resilient. Through creativity, they have inspired me always to find a way through.

My dad, who is Jamaican and a Rastafarian, came to London when he was eight and didn’t have it easy – he was excluded and in trouble with the police.

Yet when I was a young girl he always urged me to “hold your head high as you’re going to face many challenges in life.”

Tell us about all the different jobs you do and the roles you play

Currently, I’m a joint headteacher and the SENCO in a nursery school in Clapham.

I am also studying to become a person-centred and psychodynamic therapist, training to be a volunteer at Cruse bereavement and mother to Nina who is 14 and Nat who is 12.

I also support my husband, George, at Carney’s Community.

What is Carney’s Community and how did you get involved?

George and I met when we were both working at Wandsworth Youth Offending team. George was working in an intensive support surveillance program.

When the funding was taken from this program, it was obvious to George that the families and communities of the young people he had been working with needed continued, long term support.

Inspired by Mick Carney MBE, who turned around many peoples lives through boxing, George came up with the idea to combine boxing and mentoring in order to engage disadvantaged young people and challenge them to become the best versions of themselves.

The benefits of boxing are huge – it helps young people develop mental strength, discipline and resilience and also offers them the chance to belong to a vibrant community, as well as giving them identity within a group. 

Mick supported and encouraged George’s idea and when he passed away in 2011, George and his colleague, Mark Reigate, a professional boxing coach, decided to make the project official and named it Carney’s Community in honour of Mick’s legacy.

The work that Carney’s does is changing the lives of young people, bringing hope to the lives of the next generation.

How has Coronavirus impacted the work you all do at Carney’s?

Pre-lockdown, Carney’s ‘Fit and Fed’ initiative, where a diverse group of people gathers to exercise together and then sit down for a meal, was proving really successful. 

Since the pandemic closed the doors on this project, George and the team have been delivering food packages to  community members, as well as running live Instagram exercise/boxing sessions, quizzes and general wellbeing sessions for families.

We’re also hosting live Carney’s conversations with George on Instagram – he’s interviewed Stormzy, who has been a huge support to the charity from the start. He’s really grounded and true to himself; I admire him for being so passionate about the causes he believes in.

Sadly, proper funding has always been an issue for Carney’s, and the pandemic is only making this worse. We’re doing everything we can to keep our heads above the parapet as the more we get noticed, the more likely we are to receive the funding that is so desperately needed.

How do you manage to fit everything in as well as being a hands-on mum?

 The key thing for us is to involve the children in all that we do.

For example, they help to support the younger members of the Carney’s community and I use them to help me to practice my counselling skills using real-life issues to help talk about their concerns.

Their views matter and we learn from them.

What do you do when you need to take some time out?

I’m missing my Saturday morning boxing sessions at Carney’s.

However I’ve been enjoying cycling with my brother and I love walking around our neighbourhood, where there are also some great parks.  

What message would you like to pass on in this time of change and upheaval?

As a society, we need to stand together to change institutional racism and the structure that society had built to allow it to continue.

We need to bring racism out into the open and challenge negative assumptions and people’s preconceived perceptions.

The best way to do this is to educate yourself, your family and your community and show them to see the person and not the colour.  

  • If you would like to give a donation to Carney’s to help them to continue to do their invaluable work you can do so by clicking here 
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