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Palace for Life support Black Lives Matter in Thornton Heath

Two members of Palace for Life Foundation staff spoke at the peaceful Black Lives Matter event held in Thornton Heath on Saturday. The Foundation were represented by Susan Patterson-Smith and Michael Lacey, who both spoke eloquently about their experiences of racism and hopes for the future.

The event was organised by the editor of the Thornton Heath Chronicle Andrea Perry and local artist Van Dang (https://freeart.org.uk/blm/) and featured other speakers including local politicians, community and religious leaders.

Susan Patterson-Smith joined Palace for Life Foundation in 2014 and has overall responsibility for the pathways and learning area, including employability, training and targeted interventions. Susan was named on the Football Black List in 2018 and is a key member of the Foundation’s Senior Leadership Team. Speaking about her experiences she said:

Photo Credit: Jo Ellis-Holland.

“I was born and bred in Leeds, I came to London when I was 20. I remember teachers telling me that I wouldn’t amount to anything. What is the impact of racism on me? It’s made me work harder, it’s made me stand up and fight for something that I believe in. When I came to London, I would hear comments like ‘you speak really well for a black woman’, but what I did was choose to change the narrative, I worked hard, I turned up on time, I did everything to elevate myself into the board room and now I sit on the Senior Leadership Team at a major football club and I can say I’ve earnt my place at that table. When you get into that corridor of power, you can speak and you can make a change, you can be a part of the decision making.”

“When I walk into a room, not only am I undeniably black, I am undeniably resilient, undeniably excellent, undeniably professional. When you walk with that, there is nothing that can stop you from going forward in this life.”

Photo Credit: Jo Ellis-Holland.

Michael Lacey is a long-time football coach, mentor, teacher and a huge Palace fan. Michael has been at Palace for Life Foundation for 20 years and heavily involved with the Premier League Kicks, even coaching Wilfried Zaha during his teenage years. We spoke to Michael last year about his experiences as a black man growing up in south London for Black History Month, which you can read here. Speaking to the crowd in Thornton Heath, Michael said how he felt about the marches:

“I have been so proud to see so many young people out on the marches recently, black, white, side by side. Young people now are saying that they’re not going to stand for this anymore, they’ve seen it happen to their parents and their grandparents, but they’ve had enough and I’m proud of our children for that. They’re standing up for what they think is right.”

Photo Credit: Jo Ellis-Holland.

Everyone at Palace for Life is proud to stand with the Black Lives Matter movement, equality and justice are central to our beliefs. Both Susan and Michael are excellent role models for the young people in the communities that we serve.

You can find more resources related to Black Lives Matter here.

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