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Coming soon... Celebration of Life 2011

FEELING POSITIVE: Bevan Powell

IT’S THAT time of year again when the Metropolitan Black Police Association (Met BPA) commemorates black history month with its annual Celebration of Life concert.

The event will be hosted by comedian Felix Dexter and will feature performances from British gospel act Muyiwa and Riversongz, as well as a special performance from Ballet Black, the UK’s foremost black ballet company.

Bevan Powell, the chair of the MET BPA – which aims to challenge racism and its impact on policing – explains a bit more about the event.

“The purpose of Celebration of Life is really to celebrate the precious gift of life,” he says. “The concert encourages those that attend to recognise and play their part to keep our communities safe and play a positive role for young people."

“We work with communities across London to really seek solutions to reducing violence on our streets throughout the year. Part of the process is that we celebrate Black History Month through the concert.”

He continued: “The theme for this year’s concert is hope. It’s even more poignant this year following the disturbances [riots] we witnessed this summer. I think the theme of hope will unite those that come to the concert to find positive solutions that impact our local neighborhoods.”

Well aware of the tension that has long existed between the police and the black community, Powell hopes the concert will show the level of support the association has for the community.

“If you look back at the past 30 years, the relationship [between the police and the community] has come a long way,” he says.

“But there are still huge issues, like the disproportionate number of stop and search operations that happen within the community; the disproportionate number of black people on the DNA database; and the number of young victims who are murdered each year."

“Of course, we receive letters expressing discontent with the police. But there are also many, many people that look to support us.”

The Celebration of Life concert is part of the Revival programme, a broader anti-violence initiative started by the MET BPA nine years ago to combat knife and gun crime in the capital.

Powell, a member of the association for over 10 years, believes that the project has helped the community take more responsibility in the face of violence.

“Local people recognise that the issues of gun and knife crime aren’t just for the police. What Revival does is raise that awareness within society, and show the different interventions we can all make. It’s about the ongoing support that they can give to their local neighborhood.”

Celebration of Life will be held at the Royal Festival Hal, London on October 14. For more information visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk

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