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MBCC Awards 2022: An Interview With Dr Tru Powell

4 months ago by Rose Hunt

MBCC Awards 2022: An Interview With Dr Tru Powell

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Every year, the Multicultural Business and Community Champions Awards celebrates the achievements of unsung heroes throughout the UK, and the selfless work they do in going above and beyond to help others. As Emerald Sponsors of this year’s awards, we spoke with organiser Dr Tru Powell to hear more about the origin of the event, the notable awards he’s given over the years, and what’s in store for guests at this year’s ceremony.

Could you tell us a little more about the origin of the MBCC Awards, along with the inspiration behind it?

The awards originated back in 2016 when my colleague and business partner Zoe Bennett suffered a very unfortunate and traumatic experience when her father was murdered in Jamaica, and started receiving death threats from the perpetrator. As a result, she got her MP involved who was an enormous help, and due to his intervention, the perpetrator ended up receiving life in prison without parole. We wanted to say thank you to the MP but we just couldn’t find a way to do it – there were no suitable awards we could nominate him for, which is what we felt he deserved. I thought, if we’re experiencing this, then there are probably plenty of others out there who want to nominate their unsung heroes but don’t have a way to do it.. and that birthed what we know today as the MBCC Awards. 

Can you tell us more about this year’s awards? Who will be hosting and performing?

This year’s awards are going to be a truly incredible experience. Our host will be Alex Beresford from Good Morning Britain, who has hosted the awards two times before and is always so entertaining. We’ve also got some amazing performances lined up from Indigo Marshall, Aston Performing Arts Academy, along with a few surprises up our sleeves which I’m not at liberty to share right now! It’s going to be a night full of inspiration, laughter, tears, joy and sorrow; you really do go through the whole spectrum of emotions! 

Birmingham City Council are headline sponsors for this year’s awards, how significant is it to have the council’s support?

It’s so significant. It means that the council understands and recognises that the unsung heroes of our communities – who are primarily from diverse and marginalised groups – need a light shone on them for the incredible, inspirational work they’re doing. Having a heavyweight like the council supporting our endeavours gives more recognition to those who are doing so much for so many. We’ve also recently announced Lloyds Bank as our Platinum Partner, and again it’s just amazing for them to come on board. As a society in general, we’re just not that great at diversity and inclusion, so initiatives like this one that specifically recognise the achievements of those from minority communities are vital, and I’m just delighted that our partners and sponsors recognise that.

Are there any new awards added to the line-up this year?

Yes! We’ve added ‘Employee of the Year’ as a new category. Up until now, our focus has primarily been entrepreneurs and community heroes, but what about those people of colour in workplaces who are doing a fantastic 9-5, but going unrecognised? We’ve also introduced the category of ‘Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion’, as we believe there are companies and people out there really going above and beyond in the name of equality who deserve to be celebrated. Finally, the last category we’ve introduced for this year is ‘Health and Wellbeing Champion’, which will celebrate the achievement of a someone committed to advocating for improved mental and physical wellbeing in our community. 

Which are some of the most memorable awards you’ve given over the years?

Oh, that’s like choosing between my children! There have been so many incredible awards and worthy winners. If I had to choose, I’d say a lady called Natalie Quiroz who has actually been given an MBE now. She won the ‘Most Inspirational Person of the Year’ award, and her story is very harrowing. She was stabbed by her ex-partner but thankfully survived the attack, and she uses her story to speak in schools about the dangers of knife crime; she truly is remarkable. Last year, we gave Ashley Cain and Safiyya Vorajee an ‘Inspirational’ award because of the work they did to raise awareness after tragically losing their daughter to cancer. Last year also, we gave the ‘Special Recognition’ award to Stuart Lawrence, Stephen Lawrence’s brother – seeing the amazing work that he’s done in advocating for change has been remarkable. Sometimes, it’s the awards that go to people you’d never have heard of that really leave an impression. For example, we gave a ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award to a gentleman called Ian Ward who has been a football coach to kids from the inner city for the past 30 years. To some that may not be a big thing, but it’s the kind of small act that makes a huge difference and deserves recognition. But I’m so incredibly proud of every single one of our finalists and winners. 

What plans do you have for the awards in the future?

My biggest ambition is for the event to be televised. I really believe that so many people need to hear the stories of those doing great work and be inspired. We’re bombarded with so much negative news, whereas this is a night that celebrates good news and great people. I also think it would encourage more people to get involved in their local community, and nominate themselves and others to achieve the recognition they deserve. 

How do you think we can better celebrate diverse role models in everyday life?

This is a big part of the projects I’m currently working on. We’re going to be starting a magazine that’s all about celebrating inspirational people and communities, particularly within minority groups. We’re also looking at creating a podcast, and we’ll be on the hunt people with interesting stories to tell about the work they’re doing in their local communities, to really understand who they are and what they’ve achieved. Part of what we’re really looking to do is empower and help, so we also hope to organise workshops to provide skills and knowledge to people who haven’t had access to the education and training they need to succeed. It’s all very well giving exposure, but our true goal is to create equity, so there’s a lot of work still to be done.

This year’s MBCC Awards is taking place on Saturday 5th November at the Eastside Rooms in Birmingham.