9 years on: just take one small step and go from there…

📸 Benjamin Amure

Can you believe it’s been nine years since Abram passed? I can’t, though I probably say that every year. It’s funny how much the world has changed since then and even more so how much it’s changed in just over a year. It’s been a really difficult time for so many people I know personally and I hope that you’ve found a way through the tough months. I for one have been grateful for a change of scene. Since the first lockdown was announced last March I’ve opted for a rather nomadic lifestyle with my trusty dog Misty. Think Nomadland but the 5* version!

Thanks to the generosity of friends and family we’ve lived in Tooting, Hackney and Turnpike Lane, Bishop’s Stortford, a little village near Barnard Castle, another little village near Liverpool and the middle of nowhere in East Sussex. I’ve become an expert at packing up and unloading my car and travelling light. I can’t really remember what’s in my storage unit anymore and I’m sure that when the time comes for me to settle down somewhere it’ll feel a bit like Christmas opening all those boxes to find out what’s inside.

My theory is that my way of dealing with all the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic was to lean into it and make my life even more uncertain than it already was. I also think that always knowing that at some point some new energy would be injected into the monotony caused by what has sometimes seemed like never ending restrictions has had something to do with my need to keep moving.

I would be lying if I didn’t confess that I’ve often found myself wanting to resist the change; my body’s natural need for homeostasis has at times tried to compel me to stay put, to not move. Every time I’ve felt this feeling of apprehension about experiencing something new I’ve managed to push through it and every time I’ve ended up feeling so grateful that I did. 

I suppose you could say that I’ve been doing this for much longer than Covid has been in our lives. Ever since Abram died, I’ve been thrown into numerous hard situations where I’ve had to push through my fear of the unknown, over and over again. I think maybe that’s why when Covid arrived, the uncertainty of it all didn’t faze me as much as it did others. Though the relentlessness of the lockdowns did eventually get to me like they did everyone.

Out of all the lessons I’ve learned over the years since Abram’s passing, it is that in the end if you want something different in your life, if something isn’t quite working for you, then the only thing you can do is change it. And change unfortunately is terrifying. I get that, I really do, but as the saying goes “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I’m so grateful for that realisation which came to me probably about 4 years ago, because now I know deep within my bones that I can live the life that I want. If I’m not happy with something, if it’s not going the way I want it to then I know I can change. No, it won’t be easy, it will be uncomfortable and hard and things won’t work out the way I would like, but knowing I can change again, well that’s power in my mind.

The other great lesson I have learned is persistence. How does that other more recent saying go? “Nevertheless, she persisted.” Just keep going. Step by step. Bit by bit. Little actions eventually add up to big changes and when I feel utterly overwhelmed and have no idea where to start, I will remind myself, just take one small step and go from there because in the end it will lead to something…like Kaleel.

We originally worked with Kaleel back in 2018, when he was 15 years old and attending Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney, but we’ve since learned just how much of an impact the Abram Wilson Foundation has had on him and his life. 

Before we met Kaleel he’d spent some time in care and had come to Mossbourne as part of a managed move (students can be moved between schools due to emotional, social and behavioural needs). He could play an instrument but he wasn’t keen on continuing with music. His foster parents were worried about him and concerned about his future.

He was invited to take part in our first ever Future Sound project where the incredible Afrobeat band KOKOROKO worked with him and 14 other students, leading to a gig at the much loved Church of Sound venue in Hackney. His foster mother attended the gig and was delighted to see him enjoying himself and so engaged in the music. His teacher felt that the project gave him the confidence to believe that music was a career that he could do. 

Two years later, Kaleel bumped into one the promoters of Church of Sound, Spencer Martin (also a former mentee of ours), and told him how much he’d enjoyed the project and the gig and how much it had inspired him to go on to study music and the impact it had had on him. He’d applied for and been successful in gaining a place on a competitive BTEC Music Production course, he was very much on his way to pursuing a career in music. 

It is truly incredible to see how transformative and inspiring music can be if delivered in the right way. All I can say is that I’m grateful for the changes I’ve been brave enough to make to get Abram Wilson Foundation to this point, and I’m grateful for the strength to keep moving forwards especially when it’s hard.

I would not have got here on my own and I am so thankful for all the support I have received from so many people over the years. It truly has been an honour to experience the generosity of literally hundreds of people who have helped to make Kaleel’s journey possible.

As I’m sure you know, there are so many more Kaleels we need to reach. So, if you want to help other young people like him, please support our award-winning Future Sound programme and double your donation by donating to our match funding Champions for Children campaign this week.

Please donate using this special link: abramwilson.com/thebiggive

You have until 12 noon on 15th June.

Also today at 6pm we’ll be presenting the super talented saxophonist and composer Emma Johnson on our YouTube and Facebook channels as part of our 6 at 6 series. It’ll be 6 minutes of musical joy to help us hit our £10k target. Don’t forget to tune in and then spread the love by doubling your donation here: abramwilson.com/thebiggive

Till soon!


Jennie x