Black rights hero may quit Britain

Paul George on the financial dilemma facing Simon de Banya

THE man behind one of the most successful campaigns in Britain's black community is set to leave the country because he is disillusioned with a lack of campaign funding for anti-racist issues.

Simon de Banya recently lined up what reads like an "A-list" of black British celebrities to support the fight to save the life of a 10-year- old boy with leukaemia. However, he does not earn a penny for his efforts and is now making plans to move to the USA.

Banya has pulled in such stars as singers Eternal and Scary Spice, footballer Ian Wright and newsreader Trevor McDonald to draw attention to the plight of Daniel de-Gale. Like most anti-racist activists, he works for the campaign on a voluntary basis and can only make ends meet by depending on friends and relatives.

Banya, who is 37 and lives in south London, says: "I am fully committed to campaigning work, but I cannot survive on thin air alone. In America there is a lot more money around for fighting anti-racist struggles and, as I see that sort of activity as my future, I am seriously contemplating moving out there."

De Banya has also helped to mastermind the media strategy of the Stephen Lawrence family and the search for the killers of Ronald Hinkson, a 32- year-old black man stabbed to death last year in a north London wine bar.

If he was a publicist in the private sector, De Banya could earn more than pounds 30,000 a year. Instead, he devotes his time to campaigns on behalf of black families who would otherwise struggle to get their voices heard.

De Banya is one of a handful of people to successfully push the causes of black families such as Daniel's in what many see as a traditionally unsympathetic mainstream media.

Most of these campaigners, says De Banya, have a lot to contend with. "Campaigners can sometimes lose their jobs if an employer is unsympathetic to what they're doing," he says. "Also, most people behind struggles become targets for intimidation by far-right groups, who start sending them hate mail and making nuisance calls."

However, he says, the majority of campaigners remain undeterred, because they realise that the role they play is so important for other black people.

"It's vital for black families to get the chance to have a dialogue with the population at large through the mass media," he says. "Until now we have often been ghetto-ised."

De Banya first met Daniel's mother, Beverley, at an awards ceremony in July last year, when she asked him to help her with the campaign to find black bone marrow donors.

At the time, just 1,500 black people were registered as donors with Ms De-Gale's organisation, the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust. Now there are 3,500, with another 6,000 recently applying for information packs. Ms De-Galesays the involvement of De Banya has given her hope. "For there to be a successful transplant, the bone marrow has to come from a black person. And before Simon got involved, we were finding it very difficult to get the message across to the black community."

n For more information on the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, or about how to donate money to other campaigns, call 0181-769 1495.

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Consultant – Building Management

up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

Senior Industrial Energy Consultant

Up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

Mechanical Building Services Energy Engineer

up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

Building Services Energy Engineer

up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal