As part of our campaign to get more people to ‘do good stuff’ we want to inspire you with real life stories from people who do good all year round.
Here is Lorraine Jones. Lorraine was nominated for our #givingtuesday award in 2015 and is an inspiration to the community of Lambeth after she took over her son’s community gym following his tragic murder. Read her story here:
Being a voice for my community is a great responsibility and one which I take very seriously.
I’ve been a community leader and campaigner for the needs of the poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged in Lambeth for over 23 years. I have set up and managed many projects and charities, so have a vast amount of experience as a front-line worker: sharing the needs, concerns and problems many face on a daily basis. My passion to see everyone happy, and to improve their lives is what fuels my work.
In 2014 I went through the greatest shock of my life when my son Dwayne Simpson was murdered just 7 minutes from my home. He died trying to save a young boy from being stabbed.
After losing my son I was at a cross roads. A mother of 7 could I keep being the strong loving, fighter or was I going to break down under the strain of bereavement caused by violent crime? It was then – at my most vulnerable moment – bereaved and in deep shock that I witnessed the value of my community as hundreds of people including local councillors, community leaders, police officers and families flooded my home to offer their support.
My son Dwayne had started a boxing project before he was killed. The project helped to empower young people through sport, encouraging them to choose a healthy and worthwhile lifestyle, away from the risks of street violence or crime. He often came to me, disappointed that so many community centres or youth projects were being shut down. He took a brave step to start his own project and was very successful with it.
After Dwayne died I had visits from lots of young people, all coming to my home and pleading with me to start up the project again. In the end it was love that compelled me to do so – love for Dwayne, for my community, and for the young people who needed my help. I am so pleased that I made that decision. I am lucky enough to have received the trust and respect from my community who support our charity Dwaynamics, and have supported me in being a voice and a leader for positive change and improvement.
Last year I was nominated and shortlisted for the #givingtuesday Champion Award. The day I got the news that I was shortlisted I was so thrilled; I felt so empowered and it gave me such a strong belief in my work. The #givingtuesday team even put my campaign on their website and shared it with hundreds of people. It gave me and the team at Dwaynamics such encouragement, and gave us all the confidence to believe that what we are doing, and the changes we are creating, are worthwhile and important.
This year I was asked to be a speaker at the Being the Story Conference, a one-day event celebrating the power of thought-provoking storytelling. When I was approached by the organisers it was such a surprise and I felt so honoured. It is so good to know that people out there recognise the work that we do and want to help us strengthen it.
For many years I didn’t publicise any of the work that I was doing, thinking that I just needed to put my head down and get on with what needed to be done. But because of my son’s tragic death, I now feel compelled to use my voice for others, and I am grateful to all those who have given me the opportunity to do that.
I remember one young boy from Dwaynamics said to me “thank you for hearing our cry.” It’s in moments like that I realise that I want to continue to do all I can to tell my story, tell my son’s story, and work to inspire others. The majority of my work has been voluntary but continuing Dwayne’s project makes me feel so fulfilled. I am so proud of the work that my son did for our community and I am glad that I can keep his work alive.
Projects like #givingtuesday and Being the Story are so important. There are so many people in this world doing good and making an impact on the lives of others, and I hope their efforts will only inspire others to follow that example. These are the people that help to make our country great, and I’m proud to be a small part of that.
I hope my story inspires others to do good stuff, whether it’s for charity, their community, or others. My son was inspired to help his community, and so am I. I hope others feel that calling too.
Lorraine is speaking at the Being the Story conference on 16th September 2016 in central London. You can find out more by visiting www.beingthestory.org.uk.