The Communities Empowerment Network (CEN)
was constituted in 1999 in response to a growing demand from Black and Minority Ethnic parents for advice, support and representation for their children who had been excluded from their schools.
It received its first grant of £200,000 from the then Community Fund (now the Big Lottery Fund) and began providing a service from June 2000. The CEN achieved charitable status in August 2003 (Charity Number: 1099111).
The effectiveness and reputation of its service has allowed CEN to go on and work in schools in all of the London boroughs. The expertise of its staff has gained CEN an almost 100% success rate at reintegration. As a result, the CEN went on to challenge, reintegrate and restore relationships between conflicting parties within education through its chosen activities. Three years ago it moved from Stratford and relocated to Brixton.
The work CEN does is crucial. In 2009/10 (in the reporting year of 2011), if one is a Black Caribbean boy, of 13 to 14 years of age, with Special Educational Needs and receiving free school meals, the chance of staying in full-time mainstream education is dramatically reduced.
Sadly, on the 3rd may 2012, Gerry German, the founder of the organisation passed away. For those who knew him, whether as friend or foe, his passing was not only monumental but a catalyst for change in the organisation.
Literally months later the organisation took a miraculous turn in terms of its attractiveness to funders (particularly those with a social conscience) and its subsequent ability to recruit new members to the CEN family; all of whom have added to the wealth of experience and expertise that the organisation is renowned for. But most importantly, all have arrived with a heart for justice and equality in education. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the organisation is on an upward trend. What is also notable is that Gerry's legacy remains firmly intact.
More recently the organisation has made links with Parents for Inclusion and the Alliance for Inclusive Education; both moves are strategic and the signs of the beginnings of a mass movement/coalition with campaigning at its core.