Champion for the underdog
09:09 10 August 2012
Yetunde Adeola only came to Gravesend six years ago but has already touched the lives of hundreds of people looking to get a leg-up on the career ladder.
She is both manager of the Breakthrough Academy where she gives support to new start-ups and trains unemployed people and she is the founder of the African Caribbean Forum for Kent.
On top of being a mother to four young children Yetunde often works a seven day week and yet, amazingly, everything she does is voluntary.
In her native Nigeria Yetunde trained as a counsellor before moving to London where she did a degree in education and community development.
On graduating, her family left London for Gravesend for the “good education and friendly community”, she says, and Yetunde decided to set up a forum to support the African and Caribbean communities to promote cultural understanding.
Fast forward to 2012 and the 41-year-old is considered the “go-to” person by the local Job Centre Plus for reaching out to all, not just minority ethnic groups, to develop self-confidence and build employment skills.
She also organises school talks about Africa to improve understanding between communities and this year Yetunde received a prestigious Pride in Gravesham award for promotion of cultural diversity.
“When we started there was a gap between the African community and other groups,” she said, “That’s why we tried to bridge that gap and motivate them to develop their careers, but now we are working mostly working with other cultures.”
At the Breakthrough Academy Yetunde runs the show with the help of 12 volunteers and a constant stream of students looking to gain work experience.
Her schedule is fully booked from Monday to Sunday, weaving around the school-runs, clubs and homework schedules of her young family.
The next step is to grow her company so she can provide funds for supporting people’s business ventures.
“My hopes are that we can find funding because there are so many creative businesses that could thrive in this community.
“I have seen so many talented women and men that have brilliant skills but unfortunately we cannot fund them.”
With rent to pay and the business balance diminishing, even in adversity Yetunde is committed to working for communities.
“It is very important because we can support each other to grow, it is bringing people together,” she said, “I will continue to do this for the rest of my life.”