International musician joins community event in Brent

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International dancehall superstar Gappy Ranks joined over 200 people at the Winter Warmer event at the Unity Centre on Church Road. The fun packed day of information sharing was organised in partnership with Catalyst Housing and The Brent Catalyst Residents Forum.

Gappy Ranks gave a talk on music, growing up in Harlesden and being successful. He also performed with a number of local young people.

The day included:

  •        Go-karting, face painting and a bouncy castle
  •        Presentations from My Community Bank, Brent Law Centre, and Sufra Food Bank
  •        Advice on how you can write your CV, find your perfect job and dress for interviews
  •        The chance to speak to Catalyst’s Neighbourhood Managers and Repairs teams
  •        Information about projects for young people including Re-UP, the Youth Club, the new Chess Club
  •        Music workshops from Street Fusions
  •        An after party with DJ for younger people

Rod Cahill, chief executive of Catalyst Housing:

‘What a fantastic turnout. The inter-generational cooking demo really summed up the feel of the whole event. There are people of all ages here and they are all interested in what’s going on.

‘What really comes across is the real interest people have in improving their area, and there’s so much on offer for young people and old people. It’s a real privilege to be here.’

John Harrison, chair of the residents forum:

‘Brent Residents Forum, Catalyst Gateway & the Resident Involvement Team have joined forces to bring together the Winter Warmer Event.

The day highlighted and showcased what’s on offer to Catalyst residents, as well as the local community. The day was not only sharing the information of our upcoming highlights, but also for us to hear what residents the local area think and want for the future, as well as having fun.’

Gappy Ranks:

‘This is my home town, this is where I was born and raised. Both my parents are immigrants from the West Indies who came here in the 1970s. I was born in the 80s and grew up around here my whole life.

When I was 14 I was homeless. Music wasn’t my priority during my teenage years. I was growing and still getting to know myself. I was really energetic – like a lot of youth are. I was the last generation that actually saw youth centres in every single area in North West London – just around the corner we had three or four. Now there are none. I’m talking about centres where you can just walk in off the streets and be a part of something, be part of a social group where you can get to know kids from different neighbourhoods. Kids from this estate would know kids from the Stonebridge estate, kids from Harlesden, and as far as Kensal Rise, Willesden. Everybody had places to gather and get to know each other. Now there’s nowhere to go.

So I also feel I owe the community my talents and anything I can do, because this is the place that took me to where I am now. They were the first to play my music on the local radio station and they continue to play it today.

I see music as the biggest form of communication. The youth have a lot to say. If anyone should be listened to the most, it should be the youth.’