Tom Nelson is a trustee and volunteer leader at the West Indian Sports and Social Club (WISSC) based in Moss Side, Manchester.
Creating Black community space(s): The West Indian Sports and Social Club (WISSC) was created a year before Tom Nelson was born in 1953, with at least two of its founding fathers sailing to the UK on the Empire Windrush ship itself. The desire to create a Black led community space was driven by people such as Professor Arthur Lewis13, the first Black professor in England, and influential local community elder Mr Gore, both of whom have since passed.
Tom Nelson spoke of their famous meeting in Alexandra Park, Manchester, and it was their determined vision to create an organisation with its own facilities, directed by the cultural, economic and social needs of the African Caribbean community which has recently been extended through the Men of Sound Project with Megatone Sound Foundation and the digital space of WISSC’s new website designed by Angela Ankeli and Paul R. Williams.
Financial viability: Tom also spoke of his focus of maintaining a financially viable community space, with an embedded intergenerational ethos that recognises the contribution of the Windrush generation. There is added impetus to lay down roots that secure cultural legacies for current and future descendants to build upon.
Tom states how this has been his main message over the years, in order to ensure younger generations have the tools, understanding and space to pursue their vision. He believes developing a strong financially viable base will strengthen the political, economic and social foundations of Black communities in the United Kingdom. •
Collaborative designs: Tom Nelson states how the club has always had a ‘no closed door policy’ for different organisations to hold meetings and work on issues that affect local communities. WISSC have made it clear finance would never be a barrier for local groups needing space to gather.
WISSC is not a charitable trust, therefore, for the day to day running of the club, rather than seek funding, they generate their own income through takings at the bar or admission fees to events held inside the club. However, they have sought funding to deliver specific projects which meet community needs, such as supporting the Burning Work digital forum and collaborating with Louise Da Cocodia Education Trust to deliver hot meals around Moss Side to elderly people who are isolated and in need.