This is Jonathan’s story. What’s yours?

Jonathan's family

Jonathan’s family

Life today is hard enough as it is without anyone in your family being seriously ill. Did you know that every time you sneeze your heart misses a bit?

Yes, that’s a fact If you think about it, every time you leave the house there are a million things that could go wrong, yet most of us prefer not to duel on that and live happily ever after in denial and things will probably never go terribly wrong.

Jonathan is a normal teenager; he goes to school like you and me did. He love sports, and in fact he is pretty good at Karate, one of his favorite activities. He is also quite genuinely interested in exotic animals. Nevertheless, his life now is quite different from that of an average teenager with no issues or limitations. Jonathan was diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 16.

According to cancer research more than 1 in 3 people will develop some form of cancer through out their lifetime. I don’t want to overwhelm you with the odds, but its good to know that if anything happens to you or a member of your family help is available somewhere.

For Jonathan’s mum, Karen and her four children, Rainbow Trust was their knight in shinning armour.

“Without Rainbow Trust’s support, our story would have been very different, when I reached out for help I was told that both Pippa and Jonathan would have to leave college and that if I was struggling with the younger two, foster care was an option for them.”

Their family had to face the fact that they might not be able to stay together. However, Rainbow trust was able to deliver a personalised program that assists the whole family.

The Sibling support program provides support workers to help the remaining siblings as well as offer counselling and whatever is needed to the rest of the family.

“It as a bolt out of the blue when we found out he had cancer and I wasn’t sure how I would cope as a single mum. I’ve got Jonathan’s older sister, Pippa, 18, who is a massive help but has her own life as well as the two younger ones, Holly, 14 and Marcus, 11,” She says.

Without Rainbow Trust there lives could have been torn apart. What about you? What can you do to help change lives?

Donate at and help change other families lives today.


Africa: Over five Decades of Aid

By Nayara F Chaves

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

In an office teeming with books and covered in a thin layer of dust at the Society of African Studies, Dr Zoe Marriage starts to describe the wondrous route of Africa’s troubled past. Dr Marriage has travelled extensively throughout Africa; she has carefully examined the consequences of civil wars and internal conflicts that plague the continent.

“Amongst the evils that Africa suffered throughout the years there is three that tell the history of the continent: first, powerful nations decided to take the people from the continent and take them somewhere else, and that was slavery. But then they thought: oh, that’s not fair, let the people stay here but we will take the continent, and that was colonialism. Fair enough, we cannot do that either so we must find a way to exert some other form of power: and then development was born,” she says.

By the end of the nineteenth century Europeans had discovered the magnificence of the African continent, hazarding claims throughout its territories. In cities all around Europe the powerful and privileged argued hotly over divisions and all that could be gained from the vast, newly found terra incognita. Yet Europeans had a very poor knowledge of the vastness of the continent and the different people that inhabited it.

Some might say that the problems colonialism triggered can still be seen in the myriad of futile wars that still plague some countries to this day.

“When countries are doing dealings with each other they do not just go and do as they please in another country. That’s about sovereign territory and the right of the sovereign over their population. From the start there has been a substantial violation of that and that’s a key reason why countries in Africa today are not able to operate on an equal footing, everything was destabilized by foreign intervention,” says Dr Marriage.

Even though Africa has many different aspects and great diversity, African countries have a lot more in common than just their colonial history. Their states suffered most of the same problems and difficulties – it is striking to see that most African countries faced more or less the same hardships across the continent.

According to Dr Marriage, if you look at the whole world you can see where development has worked, and the only place is Europe: that’s the only place where aid has been successfully used, through the Marshall Plan. However, she says this was politically motivated to maintain European opposition to Communism during the cold war.

“Development has its own agenda; if you look at other countries like Korea, China, India, those countries developed. The ones that have grown weren’t dependent on aid and the ones that didn’t grow received large sums, and that’s the case of Africa,” she says.

Hope for schools

Hope for schools

Why is Africa still struggling after 50 years of aid?

 In August 1999, two stowaway boys from West Africa were found dead in an Airbus in Brussels. According to reports, the boys sneaked into the undercarriage of the aircraft in Conakry, Guinea. The sight was a sad one, and it became even gloomier when a note was discovered in one of the dead boy’s cold little hands. The note was a plea for help; it complained of the inequities of public schools in Africa. It was addressed:

 Your Excellencies, the citizens and officials of Europe…

It is only in the private schools that people can enjoy good teaching and learning, but it requires quite a lot of money and our parents are poor… therefore, we African children and youth are asking you to set up an efficient organization to help with the development of Africa… if we are sacrificing ourselves and putting our lives in jeopardy it is because we need your help.”

What followed made the story worse than it already was – in the scramble to rid themselves of guilt, an EU ambassador said on TV that their fate was a sad one, but it only meant the African people wanted more aid and were eternal beggars. The mayor of Conakry, their hometown, ignored the message altogether and said that the airline’s security team was to blame for the incident, refusing to acknowledge the youths’ plea for a better educational system.

This single incident is only one amongst many in African history; these boys only wanted a better education – a simple human right – and the worst of it is that it could have been prevented. How many children die of preventable diseases in Africa? How many have to go without food, whilst in Europe we throw food away?

After fifty years of aid, money is still not being used in the right way or to its full extent. Worst of all, no one can say what the right way is.

As someone who has travelled extensively in the birthplace of humanity, Dr Marriage confesses that there are solutions, but the challenge is how to change perceptions in order to implement new practices.

“That’s how aid today works: there is a race at the bottom, who will have the most horrible visible disaster, how many children will die in the worst possible way to attract attention. People like emergency aid. Everyday problems become just that – everyday problems in a far away place with very few people interested in it,” says Dr Marriage.

Views vary from economist to economist, but those in power still hold tight to the old-fashioned ways. It has been more than four decades, and most African countries have failed to escape the poverty trap. Yet the blame still falls on the same outdated areas: slavery, colonialism, foreign intervention and manipulation during the cold war. Yes, these events have taken their toll, but how long will Africans hide behind the aftermath of things that happened long ago? According to Robert Calderisi, writer of The Trouble with Africa, Africans are partially to blame for their own misfortune.

In the chapter “Looking for Excuses” he discusses how some still blame the world economy for the problems encountered in Africa. It is clear that smaller farmers cannot compete or trade on equal terms with developed economies, yet Africa has not lost out to superpowers like the EU or the USA; in fact, according to Calderisi, African economies have offered their markets on a plate to other Third World countries in Asia and Latin America.

“Most African countries have let agriculture – their greatest wealth – decline steadily through over-taxation and other wrongheaded policies. African economies were certainly late starters, but instead of pumping them up with steroids, government has put shackles on their producers,” he says.

There are certainly differences between one place and the other, and Africa seems to have had more than its fair share of adversities, but if you compare it with other economies such as South Korea, India or Brazil, some of which started from a worse position than African countries, they still managed to grow and develop their economy instead of remaining shackled to their defective past.

The future of development

 Most charities agree that education, health and basic infrastructure are the key to progress in Africa. Identifying what needs to be done is the easiest part; the most difficult is to transform these facts into a reality. If young Africans choose to remain in poverty because they cannot be bothered to work, or because there is too much corruption, how can I help them up?

According to Jeffrey Sachs in his book The End of Poverty, providential ineptitude is only a minor portion of the hard truth.

“I have noted repeatedly that in all corners of the world, the poor face structural challenges that keep them from getting even their first foot on the ladder of development… The world’s remaining challenge is not mainly to overcome laziness and corruption, but rather to take on geographic isolation, disease, vulnerability to climate shocks, and so on, with new systems of political responsibility that can get the job done,” he says.

In order for aid to work the way it should be working, both poor and rich countries have to make compromises. Africa must start dedicating its resources to helping the poor instead of funding internal conflicts and corruption. The developed world has to take its promise to help developing countries more seriously. For aid to start working, rich countries need to stop making development a business that requires payment in return.

According to Sachs, poor countries today only pretend aid is helping, and the nations of the developed world pretend they believe it and pretend to continue helping. NGOs do what they can, but even their projects can only help a small number of people, enough to give them publicity. Maybe it’s time to start being more ambitious if their goal is to end poverty.

For how much longer will relief be treated with exaggerated sensationalism? People should know better than that, or is it just easier to believe that things are working?

How to help?

Georgie Fienberg, the founder of AfriKids, thinks it’s time for people to start thinking differently. Pity donations belong to the eighties; in this day and age poor countries need more than short-term solutions.

“Guilt, shock and pity are the motivating impulses. But you have been donating to images like this since the 1980s. So why has nothing changed? And where did all the money go? These big questions demand answers. If good money follows bad, nothing will change. This type of fundraising is antiquated, delivers the wrong message and is actually a net negative for society at large – both for Western societies and those in developing countries,” Fienberg told the BBC.

Sally Vivyan, the director of Afrikids, agreed to talk to us and explain why their method of thinking should be the new way to donate.

“When someone thinks about donations all they see is horrible images of starving kids in appalling situations. Afrikids provide a different sort of approach, we want to provide businesses that help their economy and create independency.

“I know the concept of empowering the people we help is not a new one, but some charities claim they do the same when in truth they only stick to the short-term help, a much easier and ineffective sort of approach,” she says.

As mentioned before, Dambisa Moyo is not the biggest supporter of aid, but Afrikids have managed to put the two approaches together – aid directed at business enterprises to help economic growth and development.

The Blue Sky Lodge in Ghana is the latest ‘sustainability project’ started by Afrikids. The hotel, when completed, will provide not only jobs but also real economic growth. According to Vyvian, the Blue Sky Lodge will encourage tourism by providing affordable accommodation for people coming from other places, both within Ghana and internationally. It also has a community centre where people can develop skills in hostelry and tourism.

Projects like this are exactly what countries in Africa need – this way the money is accounted for, and the project respects and invests in local people, taking their experiences and local knowledge into account in order to develop their local economy. And we donors know that the money we provide is actually helping to change people lives forever.

However, according to Vyvian, perception and lack of knowledge of their programmes is still a problem.

“The challenge of fundraising for this business is that they are not traditional forms of aid, so it is a bit more difficult to get the money together. At the moment we are one third of the way there, and if funds continue to come in we will be able to start building in the next couple of months. The plans, the location, everything is already well ahead but we do need the money to continue,” she says.

Aid has changed over the years, as have other things around the world. Now is the time to start thinking differently and start spending wisely on projects like the Blue Sky Lodge that will make sure people in Africa will be independent of the bonds imposed by the wrong type of aid, and will be able to thrive for themselves.

Who is afraid of comics?

by Karolina Przeklas

Violent protests erupted last September when Charlie Hebdo’s French cartoon was published which “ridiculed” the prophet Mohammed. A talk this week investigated why comics and cartoons have been targeted by censorship and why they create moral panics worldwide.

London’s freelance journalist, Paul Gravett, curator and lecturer has been involved in comics publishing and promotion since 1981. His talk explained the unsurprising journey through the history of comics and the reasons why for these amazing works of art have been subjected to prosecution and in many cases destroyed.

Paul Gravett - Who is afraid of comics?

Who is afraid of comics?

“Who is Afraid of Comics”, held at the Central Library in Islington as part of a Word2013 Festival.

It’s not who is afraid

“It’s who uses that fear of comics, rather purposely because it’s a very good way to distant attention from other, probably much more serious things that are going on in the society, like unemployment or god knows what to have a focus on something like comics.” – said Gravett.

Check out children’s and young persons harmful publications act from 1955 – still in use today

Mohammed Cartoon

In September, French cartoon caused outrage in the Muslim community worldwide after Hebdo’s controversial intake on the life of the prophet Mohammed. Hebdo newspaper was calling itself a “defender of free speech and a denouncer of religious backwardness”.

 French magazine editor threatened over Mohammad cartoon

— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) September 22, 2012

1001 comics you must

read before you die

Check out Paul Gravett’s 1001 comics you must read before you die collection of comics from around the world.

1001 comics you must read before you die
Word2013 Festival takes place across the Islington borough for the whole month of May. With over 50 events to choose from you get a chance to celebrate reading, writing and freedom of expression. A range of events, exhibitions  and performances showcasing some of Islington writers, artists and organisation.

Word2013 Festival

The project has been developed in partnership with Islington Library and Heritage Service; Islington Arts Service; All Change and Free Word.

Islington Community Theatre – Word Festival – Flash Mob 2012 from Roman Sheppard Dawson on Vimeo.

Local Hero

by Karolina Przeklas

In the UK thousands of people give up their time as volunteers. Financially, their work is never paid.  Emotionally, their commitment  has a dramatic impact on many local communities. Steve O’Neill is one of those amazing people. He has given 30 years to Islington Admiral Football Team and is still counting.

Steve O'Neill with trophies

Steve O’Neill with Admiral United trophies

The first time I met Steve O’Neill, head of football for Admiral United, he was standing on the sidelines at the Market Road football pitch. For the last 30 years you could find him there at least twice a week.

It all started by simply wanting to play some football. In 1983, together with colleagues from The Sunday Times on Grays Inn Road, Steve started a football team.

sunday times lads

Steve O’Neill with The Sunday Times lads

Admiral fc 86' with trophy

Admiral’s FC 86′ with the winning trophy

Today, Admiral United consists of two adult and four youth teams.

“Volunteering is very important in the sport,” says Steve. “Behind every champion or a team there is always someone willing to give out their time to help that person or team to achieve something. They could be anything, from team manager, coach, secretary, treasurer, fundraiser or even someone who cleans the kits, but they are vital to a club.

“Admiral’s managers, coaches, secretaries are all volunteers. They give their time freely and willingly to help. When one of our teams wins a trophy, the whole club wins it with them. It’s a shared experience.”

Admiral players come from many different nationalities. This reflects London’s multiculturalism, and Steve believes that the city is welcoming to everybody. “Londoners have a deserved reputation for letting everyone have a go at achieving something, we don’t see different cultures as being obstacles to being a Londoner,” he says.

Steve is all about football. His passion is contagious. When you talk to him about Admiral you get a warm feeling that this really is his extended family. Undoubtedly his involvement in the club is also a great personal achievement.

What does the future hold for Admiral? Steve’s dream is to “have a team full of players who have made their way through from our youth teams to play in the senior teams and to enjoy winning trophies in that team”.

But to achieve this dream and ensure the future of the club, Admiral needs help. “Playing football in Islington is very expensive and lots of our players come from lower-income families in the borough. The club is always on the lookout for anybody willing to trust us with their generous donations to enable us to continue the good work of the past 30 years,” says Steve.

Admiral Youth

Admiral’s Youth

It is thanks to people like Steve that many of the community centres around us have a chance of surviving in today’s recession. In the times of austerity measures, medieval cuts, failing education system and what can be called ‘a broken society’, we should be treating people like Steve as heroes, for these are the real role models for our children to look up to. Their commitment and passion is a corner-stone of any community.

“Football is not just a game” – Steve O’Neill

Do we believe in hangover cures?

by Karolina Przeklas

Why are the mornings after a good night out so hard to deal with?  In an attempt to answer this question, Roam conducted a survey looking in to the best ways of dealing with ‘delirium tremens’.

Sacha Gatica

NHS Direct says that hangover cures are “generally myths”. But 70% of the people in our sample believe differently…

Drinking causes damage you can’t see

“Alcohol is a powerful nervous system depressant that is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream,” says nutritionist Susana Montenegro. “The liver can only get rid of a small amount of it at the time, leaving any excess to cause havoc in the body.”

An old truth tells us that the best way not to have a hangover is simply not to drink alcohol at all.  As much as 50% of our sample agreed, so for the remaining half that don’t believe the old adage, could food be an answer?

Bring on the bacon

“Full-fat coke and a bacon sandwich always work for me,” says post office worker, Andy Armitage. Only 17% agreed with this opinion and answered ‘always’ when asked if greasy food always works as a hangover cure. On the other hand,  54% said “only sometimes” and 17% think that “it depends on what you have drunk the night before”.

“People mistakenly think can of sweet fizzy drink will help, the carbon dioxide actually gets the alcohol to the brain faster and the rush causes you to crash later on,” Montenegro says.

What about water? Chemist Raj Patel chemist says keeping your liquid levels high is important. “I recommend a high dose of vitamins B and C, lots of water and Milk Thistle, preferably before and after sessions.” Only 19% agreed, saying that a glass of water before bed always works as a hangover cure. What’s more, half of our interviewees said “no'” when asked if vitamin tablets relieve hangovers, and 15% don’t take vitamins at all.

Who let the dogs out?

How about the good old hair of the dog? Does like cure like? Charity fundraiser Kelly Kay often drinks after a night of drinking. “Hangover cures? Mine are Bloody Marys,” she said. Only 10% of our participants agreed, with 47% believing that the hair of the dog is not the way to cure a hangover.

Other things that could help are exercise and painkillers. We asked our participants and as many as 80% disagreed, what’s more almost 10%  admitted to not exercising at all.

In fact, sweating out the booze probably does nothing for hangovers at all. Too much exercise could do untold damage, especially if you are already dehydrated from too much drink.

Sex is best

So how about sex? Seventy percent of those surveyed said “no” when asked if sex is the best cure for a hangover, with 11% saying “yes” and 26% saying “sex is best for everything”.

Around the world in 40 remedies…

Our cultural search for hangover cures took us through some interesting and unusual remedies. Here are just a few we found:

  • In Poland, stomachs are lined with a thick chicken broth before drinking, and have a glass of pickle juice or eat sauerkraut the morning after.
  • In Germany, eating pickled herring called “rollmops” is used as a next day remedy.
  • The Scottish swear by Irn Bru,  while Bavarians have “Weisswurst Fruhstuck”, which is a sausage in pretzel followed by a beer.
  • In Chile, a glass of “pisco sour”, an alcoholic drink with line, is consumed, followed by a doughy empanada.

If the non-drinking option is not for you, we hope that Roam’s recommendations will ease your pain.

Please remember drinking can have a detrimental effect on people’s lives. There are organisations and other support groups that can help,  for example don’t let the drinks sneak up on you, part of Change for Life campaign, set up by the NHS.


Check out other pictures and drawings created by Sacha Gatica, an artist who kindly donated the above drawing. One of our lucky readers, who completed the printed version of a crossword, had the chance to win this drawing for keeps.

Top 10 things to do in London with toddlers

by Karolina Przeklas

Parents are always on the lookout for a cheap day out, not only because keeping babies entertained  has a huge impact on their development, but also because boredom makes children naughty. Here are Roam’s top 10 cheap things to do with toddlers in London.

1. Go swimming

Babies spend the first nine months of their lives in water, so it’s a no-brainer that most toddlers love swimming. Many local pools run family sessions, which cost very little compared to special swimming classes. If you don’t want to spend a fortune, pack your costumes and head to your family fun sessions. With the “summer” upon us why not check out open-air swimming pools like London Fields Lido? It will be money well spent.

2. Visit animal farms

Local animal farms are a great chance to introduce your little one to some “moos” and “baas”. Check out Freightliners Farm in central Islington – a wonderful place for the whole family.

3. Grab a bite to eat

Watching how kids experiment with flavours and textures can be mesmerizing. As one of the most multicultural capitals of the world, London offers different cuisines practically on every street corner.  Ignore the generic fast food joints that offer nothing apart from bad fats and high sugar content. There are plenty of other options like That place on the corner or Giraffe. Kids are very unforgiving when they don’t like something, so let your baby discover which places serve good food and which don’t.

4. Check out museums and galleries

Museums and galleries are a great source of entertainment and knowledge for everyone. For example, the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green provides a backpack designed by Montessori full of books and toys. It allows children to  lead their play, encouraging them to learn independently.

Virtual  tour of Childhood Museum 

Check out MUMSNET for honest and up-to-date reviews of events in your local museums.

5. Pop in to London Zoo

Zoos are so much fun for everyone. At London Zoo in Regent’s Park, check out what the penguins have been up to or simply hang out with the gorillas.

kumbuka, gorilla

6. Visit adventure playgrounds

From sandpits to hanging bridges, curled slides and pirate ships, playgrounds offer hours of joy – and most of them are free. We recommend the Princess Diana Memorial Playground,  with a Peter Pan-inspired design.


If you want to get more involved, why not join Londonplay and be part of a scheme design to make London streets safer for children?

7. Take part in special classes

Local libraries run special toddler classes. Islington’s Baby Bounce helps babies learn rhythm and rhyme through songs and stories. A great way to encourage children to socialise with others.

“I love coming here for an hour of singing with all the local mums” – say Kelly Davids, mum of David who offten takes part in the Baby Bounce Classes

8. Go to the park

London gets a lot of rain, but rain can be lots of fun. So if you don’t mind getting a bit grubby and wet, grab your wellies and head off to the your local park, or choose one of many dotted around London.

“Go to Westow Park in SE19, Crystal Palace. A Bug Hunt started again in March. Expect wonderful nature lovers teaching about seeds, planting trees, and story telling. All ages welcome, it’s free and quite wonderful. We had mulled apple juice to warm us up last time we went. The Park has excellent children play areas, and Crystal Palace is full of gorgeous cafes and restaurants which are all child friendly. There are Antique shops with kids toys, and independent trading shops of all varieties, and Crystal Palace Park is a five minute walk away. You have the leisure centre and pool, the petting zoo, a maze, and of course the giant stone life size dinosaurs” – says Roxana Aman, mum of Zayan and Dalia 

9. Visit an aquarium

Just like the zoo, this trip is worth every penny. The best time to visit this underwater world is during feeding times. London Aquarium has the world’s biggest collection of Caw Nosed Rays.


10. Join street parties and festivals

London’s best festivals are happening in the summer so have a look around. On the 25th of August Londoners will be dancing to the rhytms of calypso, Nothing Hill Carnival one of the world’s biggest street parties, with a special kids day opening the weekend of fun.

We also like the look of  the Lollibop Festival.

Lollibop Festival 2013

A bash for little people

And there are always smaller events that run though out the year, like Southbank’s Imagine Children Festival.

And if you want to travel further afield, take a trip outside London and visit the Butterfly World Project in Hertfordshire, the biggest butterfly experience in the world.


The Leveson Inquiry: Who Wins

Call it regulations if you will, I say it’s the end of a free press. The British 4th estate as we know, love and loath it may be ending with this farce of an inquiry  (The Leveson inquiry into the culture and ethics of the British press) Not since the Watergate scandal has the free press been under such scrutiny. Common sense must prevail or the press as we know it will die and instead of journalism we’ll be left with PR robots that toe the party line and are afraid to break eggs.

Ok, so let me sum up what this inquiry is really about, if its not just here to make the Murdoch’s life uncomfortable. I think we can all safely say that the red tops in this country (NOTW, The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily star) have behaved in immoral ways for decades. Until a few stories came out with the celebrities involved not knowing how the information had leaked. Oh the Horror.

Sienna Miller I’m afraid to say I don’t have much sympathy for, the same goes to Max Clifford, Andy Grey, Jude Law, Hugh Grant and all the other fame hungry celebs that seem to think they can become public property with no consequence. They all got substantial pay offs from the NOTW.

I do on the other hand feel some sympathy for the former Royal editor of NOTW Clive Goodman, who was the initial scapegoat to save the skins of Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks both former NOTW editors. January 26th 2007 Clive Goodman and Private Investigator Glenn Mulcaire were both jailed for illegally accessing the Royal phone messages. Andy Coulson subsequently resigned from his post as editor of NOTW only to become David Cameron’s media advisor for the Conservative party. Clearly it’s not what you know but whom.

Rebekah Brooks whom I admire somewhat, revealed back in 2003 to a Commons Committee that the paper (NOTW) had regularly paid the police for information. Coulson sitting next to her at the time tried to rebuff what she had said but the damage was done. I often wonder why an inquiry wasn’t started at this time, as this worry’s me more than getting frivolous gossip from a celeb’s mobile.

So the shredding begins, the News of the World is closed down, lots of good journalists lose their jobs while Rupert, his son, Mr. Coulson (Dave’s mate) and Rebekah Brooks (again Dave’s mate LOL) remain in uncomfortable coziness shall we say?

This is where the Leveson Inquiry loses me. From the outside looking in I see a national newspaper proprietor and editors clearly breaking the law. So as a straight thinking person I’m of the opinion that these offenders should be brought before a court of law for justice and not an inquiry in to the ethics of the media. If we have laws in place to dissuade the media from using immoral tactics then why not just use them.

Caribbean Cuisine: To your taste…..

Ever since the Wind-rush back in June of 1948, where 493 of the first West Indians landed on these British shores to help rebuild Britain after the Second World War, there has been a love affair with the style of cooking that the first settlers brought with them.

The Caribbean is made up of many different cultures. Throughout the 17th century settlers predominantly from Asia, France, Portugal, Spain and Africa came with their own styles of cooking and over time the styles fused together to create the Caribbean taste we have today.

From Jerk Chicken, Ackee and Salt fish to the famed Guinness Punch an array of tropical spices and herbs, in modern times called Soul food; West Indians cook from the heart and take their time to prepare their meals.

West Indian Cuisine is some way behind Chinese and Indian cuisine when it comes to being the nations favourite take away. The latest survey taken by the Commerce of Caribbean Cuisine showed the value of Caribbean restaurants in the UK at £21 million. That may sound a big number but it’s a fraction compared to the £1 billion valuation of the UKs favourite Indian restaurants.

Caribbean restaurants take up a mere 2% of the ethnic food trade in the UK country, compared to Indian at 48% and Chinese at 30% that’s a very small percentage.

pie chart

“It’s about opening up to a new market. Finding news ways to market and sell the food”. Says Mr Stevens, Owner of Mr Jerks in the West Ends Soho “I often get told West Indian food is too heavy and you can’t snack on it, like English people like to do” Mr Stevens continues, “ This made me come up with the concept of a Jerk Chicken Burger or barbeque Chicken burger, which may or may not take off, but I think Caribbean restaurants has to diversify in order to at least maintain our current market share”.

“There are no celebrity Chefs that specialize in Caribbean food, yet we see Indian and Chinese Chefs on TV all the time”. Most West Indian restaurants want the food to feel like it comes from home, so essentially they want to use a restaurant Kitchen like a Kitchen in the Home and economically this does not work.

Supermarkets such as Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s have started to sell Patties with different flavours as an attempt to breach the mainstream and have even launched a Halal range.

The recent success of Levi Roots, who successfully went on the BBC’s Dragons Den to get £50,000 funding for his Caribbean reggae reggae Sauce also goads well for the future Caribbean cuisine in the UK. His sauces are in all of the main supermarket chains and he has recently released a microwave package meal range.

On the whole the Caribbean food industry needs a shake up and some re-vamping. “We need more Professional Chefs and different ways in which we present our food to the public” Wayne continues “Caribbean food is the best the World just don’t know it yet”.

In a survey we asked many people what their favourite Caribbean dish was and whether or not they would welcome fast food style jerk chicken Burgers as Londoner’s are always on the go and like to eat in kind.

We got mixed answers, most people thought that Caribbean food could not really pass as fast food because it simply isn’t and if you try to dumb it down you will lose crucial elements of the food.

Jerk Chicken, Rice and Peas and Macaroni cheese came out as the clear winners in our favorite Caribbean dish pole. just behind it came Curry Mutton and every body seems to love a bit of fried plantain.

London Arts

Graffiti: Art or Not


As Londoners we are a diverse bunch. We have different taste’s in things like food, (although we all love a curry) music, and clothes.We like to moan about the weather and act surprised when theirs another doomsday story on Eastender’s. But one thing that  divides the most opinion is the graffiti on the walls of our city.

We can look as far back as the ancient Egyptians for early signs of graffiti, although we now know them as hieroglyphics its was still essentially writings and drawings on a wall. Graffiti artist or ‘graffers’ as they are known to their peers take their art extremely seriously, to have your ‘tag’ seen all over a city is a huge achievement. Never advertising a product, they are promoting themselves as artist. To the real hardcore ‘graffers’ this is tantamount to a classic artist having their pieces up in the Tate Modern Gallery.

Graffiti is huge on a global scale. From London to California to Bombay you will find spectacular examples of graffiti.

Piece By Poch, Rock - Mumbai (India)

A stunning piece of graffiti in Mumbai and above a huge memorial piece from Compton, California.

A frame from the banned video game.

A graffiti artist putting the final touches on his piece in Australia.

In London the range of graffiti is vast. At present we are seeing a creative birth with young artist showcasing their talent on our historic walls. As lots of people strive to become the next Banksy we are witnessing more simple styles of graffiti as opposed to the ones that look like they took as long as the Sistine Chapel given the sizes and amount of colors used.

Here is a reel of graffiti that Roam Magazine put together for your pleasure.

Here are a few more interesting videos about Graffiti in London.

Here are a few website on Graffiti, if you’d like to learn more on the subject.

A Summer of Music Madness

Wireless 2012

Wireless 2012

By Soraya Downie

The weather in summer is questionable, but the festivals are not and there’s plenty to go to.

There is lots of music madness occurring this year in the capital, no need to look further when wanting to see your favourite musicians and here’s just a few for you to know.

Bobbing in the bushes at Bushstock Festival

Think about the Woodstock that delighted the hippie revolution in US 1970s.

This is similar, but is the UK alternative and is happening in venues surrounding the Shepherds Bush area, hence the name.

Bushstock is the type of festival that aims to those who are not into mainstream music.

This year’s line up includes:

The festival will take place on Saturday 1st June, less than a month to go and fans are more than happy to see the event make a return.

Grahame Stephens, 33, a music producer from Chiswick, said, “I attended last year and it was really amazing. A breathe of fresh air than the typical young, big, in your face ones.”

“I enjoyed music by Fionn Regan, Alessi’s Ark and Jamie N Commons, they were my favourite.”

It’s rawer, edgier and is a tad bit like folk music, so if that ticks all your boxes, then get on down there this year.

For more info, visit

Yahoo’s Wireless Festival

Wireless Festival (presented by Yahoo) usually takes place in London’s Hyde Park. But this year’s acts will be performing at the Queen Elizabeth Park in Stratford.

This year’s line-up includes:

 Tickets for Friday 12th and Saturday 13th July are sold out, but tickets for Sunday 14th are still available, go get yours here:

Alicia Martin, 20, an office worker from West London, enjoyed the three day event last summer and thinks it will be even better this year.

She said, “They’ve done so much better with the line-up this year. So many more US acts and then Jay Z and Justine are headlining together on Sunday is going to be epic.”

“I think it will be so much different compared to last year because of the bigger stage. The location may be a bit further a field, but I recommend anyone to get tickets for Sunday’s show.”

A lesson in love at LoveBox

Between Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July, the yearly LoveBox festival will take place at Victoria Park, within the Tower Hamlets area, East London.

Various musicians will be gracing the stages over the three day event, including:

Stephanie Coleman, 26, beautician from Harrow, said, “I’ve been going LoveBox for the past three years and I refuse to miss this year.”

“The line-up is immense, there really is something for everyone and even if you don’t know a few of the acts, you get to know them and enjoy their music. I’m going to go to all three dates.”