Equals IW have secured funding from the Isle of Wight Council to continue their 'Green Time' activities for another year.

Beginning in March 2005, Equals IW gained charitable status on January 23, 2021. They strive to ensure the Isle of Wight will become an even more inclusive, supportive and friendly place to live, work and visit for all people.

‘Green Time’ includes nature-involved endeavours open to everyone, particularly ethnic minorities across the Isle of Wight.

Recently, they have worked across Sandown Bay, Shanklin Bay and Firestone Copse. 

The County Press is signed up to the Young Reporter scheme, giving young people the chance to write for their local newspaper. Lianne is a Christ the King College student.

As documented by the 2021 Census, 97 per cent of Isle of Wight residents identified as white.

Making up three per cent of the population, some ethnic and religious minorities describe Island life as “isolating” and “difficult.”

However, according to Mind.org.uk, only 30 per cent of ethnic minority communities feel comfortable talking about their thoughts and feelings.   

Shérine Yarf-Abbasi, a Year 12 student at the Island VI Form, shared a heartfelt story: “It was a learning curve getting used to being ‘different’ as I was the only person of colour in my year.

"Growing up, I realised that our cultures were different. I found it difficult to relate with anyone at school, which made me feel isolated. I thought something was wrong with me.”

Nonetheless, organisations are willing to tackle this. Equals IW are a prime example. 

Apart from aiding their local communities, Equals IW benefits those working alongside them. Niviera Piper, committee member of Equals IW, described it as a ‘safe place’ and a ‘melting pot to integrate with other people.’ 

Group members Lauren Thomas and Cecelia Shaw shared the joy of learning other cultures, with Lauren describing them as “lifelong lessons worthy of embracing.”

Cecelia asked: “Don't you know that learning a different culture is one of the best educations you can have?” 

Mark Cox, chair of Equals IW, expressed his willingness to include local youth in their projects, closing the gap between varied generations.

Before Covid-19, Equals IW had the opportunity to visit Island primary schools to teach them cultural recipes.

In the foreseeable future, Equals IW wishes to establish contact with the Isle of Wight Youth Council and begin an Equals IW youth club. 

Overall, Mark aims to expand the friendship groups: “We aim to continue growing and integrating into different projects and programmes," he said.

"More families getting involved would be wonderful, as I'd like to see our membership expand.”