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Manny Wiafe Interview: “I will highlight the voices of younger generations"

15 February 2021

Manny lives in Islington and has recently become one of our youngest governors. As we think about life beyond lockdown, he’s looking forward to taking a role in a piece of work we’re developing with local SMEs to provide paid part-time work for young people. Here he reflects on his life experience in the borough and his first few months as a member of the board.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in Islington and continue to live in the area. Growing up, I participated in several local projects designed to foster a sense of community. Some of these projects were actually funded by Cripplegate, such as Access to Sports. Following this experience, I know first-hand the value of local projects that actively connect residents with wider civic goals to create sustainable and confident communities.

Outside of work, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can contribute and get involved in order to make Islington the beautiful and wonderful place we all know it is. I also cycle often, play basketball (when we are allowed to) and I’m a mentor for aspiring lawyers.

It’s important that the recovery from the pandemic includes helping young people, who may have had their dreams and aspirations deferred, to enter the working economy.

Why did you decide to become a governor, what did you think that you could bring into the foundation?

I decided to become a governor for two principal reasons: first, as a local resident I have a keen interest in the important role that Cripplegate plays in improving the lives of disadvantaged residents and people in Islington. I’m a huge advocate for social justice so I want to lend my skills and experience to that campaign. Second, as a funding lawyer I appreciate how grants can be deployed to support underserved communities and voluntary organisations that may not get a look in through other forms of funding.

On what I can bring, as a younger governor I will highlight the voices of younger generations when it comes to decision making at the board level. You often find that boards are predominantly full of older people because, quite rightly, they have the necessary level of experience. But we need to keep in mind that decisions can affect us all, so all parts of the community should feed into the decision making process.  

Manny Wiafe during the Zoom interview
Manny Wiafe during the Zoom interview

 

Is there any particular piece of work or project that you have started working in as a governor that you could tell us about?

As we think about life beyond lockdown, I’m looking forward to taking a role in a piece of work we’re developing with local SMEs to provide paid part-time work for young people (when it’s safe to do so). It’s important that the recovery from the pandemic includes helping young people, who may have had their dreams and aspirations deferred, to enter the working economy. They need financial help and a route to gain valuable work experience.

Also, as we think longer and harder about diversity it’s important that the message is carried through to the organisations we support. That means increasingly looking at funding organisations that are predominantly founded/led by people from a minority background.

Which do you think is or are the biggest challenge that we face at the moment?

We need to communicate how Cripplegate is flexing its activities and commitments to help the borough through the pandemic and lockdown. At a time when we are confined to our rooms and laptops we have to be (digitally) visible. I recently saw a poster that the borough donated over £500,000 to Islington Giving to support local people through 2020. This made me proud because it’s important that people see us, in collaboration with others, doing the work we talk about.

And finally, what is your favorite thing about the borough?

The people. We have a very diverse range of people living and working together. If you walk around Islington it’s quite likely you will see people from all parts of the world – it’s this diversity in culture, found in places like Islington, that makes London a global city.