By now you'll have watched footage of the protest, you'll have seen the image and you'll be aware of who Patrick Hutchinson is. For a brief moment in mid June, Hutchinson became one of the most talked about men on the planet. But while we were all discussing a moment in Hutchinson's recent past, he was busy working on creating a better future. Alongside his friends Jamaine Facey, Chris Otokito and Lee Russell, the collective United to Change and Inspire (UTCAI) was born to give everyone the same shot at life regardless of their race. No more. No less.
"I'd love to see our young children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews have a better world than I've lived in, and a better world than my mother and her mother lived in," wrote Patrick on the formation of UTCAI. "We have an opportunity to be heard, and we're going to take it."
Below is what Hutchinson, Facey, Otokito and Russell told Men's Health writer Daniel Davies about UTCAI and its plans to inspire change in schools, prions and workplaces up and down the country.
Men's Health: Talk to me about UTCAI, and how you went from the protest to the image to coming up with it?
Patrick Hutchinson: Basically we were united as father's on the day, and we went and changed the narrative – that negative stereotype of Black men that is out there, hopefully we've changed that narrative and people don't see Black men negatively anymore. Now we're trying to inspire others to do like we did and do the right thing when they're out and about everyday, don't just stand by and watch things unfold, if you have to stand together as a community and stop these things happening. With our new platform we want to go into schools, we want to go into the corporates, we're going to be looking at education, we're gong to be looking at the criminal justice system, we're going to be looking at mental health and we're going to be looking at fatherhood. All of these things are going to be embodied within United to Change and Inspire. Hopefully, we can make a difference and we can work with people who are already doing great things within their communities and up and down the country, and do what we can to help.
MH: When you say you want to give back, do you want to shine a light on other peoples' work too?
PH: One of the things that we'd like to do is we've openly spoken about martial arts and what it does for young children, especially young boys. It gives them a sense of belonging, it makes them not have to prove themselves on the street. When you train and you workout, you have no need to prove yourself when you're out and about; you know what you can do and you leave that to others. The more young boys we can get involved in martial arts, whether it's boxing, Thai boxing, Jiu Jitsu, the better. We'd like to set up small camps where we do eight to 10 weeks of coaching and teaching with all of us on board helping for free. Then hopefully after that eight or 10 weeks those children will go away and want to continue training and find local schools like New Wave academy, like Mortal Arts, like Team Titans, which is a really good Thai boxing school that I know of, they'll go away and want to continue training, so that's just one thing we want to do.
MH: Was this something you thought about after the protest or has this been in you minds for a long time?
Jamaine Facey: It kind of fell on us. We all do stuff in the community anyway. I've always worked in the community, I've always done things for kids who used to come to Brixton Recreation Centre, I used to set up football clubs for them and get them in so they could play because they had no money. I did my free Hands Up, Guns Down activities for people, so I've worked in the community all my life. But this movement and crazy thing that happened has fused us together where we're like 'we have to do something now' because the movement's bigger than this one thing. The movement's bigger than us.
MH: A lot of people I've been speaking to have said that the impetus from the Black Lives Matter protests have been dying down and the conversations that we were having and trying to stimulate are dying down too. Is that something that you feel?
Chris Otokito: Even if the impetus from the whole movement is dying down, the reality of the situation is people are still being killed. There's still brutality. There's still injustice that is happening.
JF: There were seven deaths in seven days two weeks ago.
CO: We're hoping it's not only a commercial movement, but hope can only get you so far, hence why the purpose of UTCAI is to actually put our money where our mouth is, put our energy and our efforts into the right places. We know where the biggest challenges are, and it's going to take for everyone to really reflect and want to do it. It's a journey of self discovery. Your chief execs are going to have to look at themselves and ask 'If I have the influence to help create change and I'm not doing that, am I actively trying to go back to how it was in the good old days?' It was never the good old days.
PH: You guys giving us a platform like this is excellent and brilliant and long may it continue. I hope it doesn't end with us. There are others that have an opportunity to speak on Men's Health and be on the front cover, and do things [like this]. That's what we're striving for.
MH: Now you've had a couple of months to think about what happened, what did that moment at the protest teach you about yourself?
PH: It taught me something that a lot of people have always said about me and said to me, and I've had various friends message me and speak to me and they've said to me 'You're the only person who could have been there at that moment to do that. Other people may have tried to cradle him and protect him, but to have the presence of mind to pick him up and walk him out of there, I don't know many people who would have done that Pat.' They've actually said that to me, and I've had to sit back and think wow that means a lot.
MH: Just to finish, with UTCAI, tell me about what the next stage of protest, what the next stage of education, what the next stage of reform looks like?
CO: We're building UTCAI as a brand to go into different institutions, like schools, prisons, corporate companies, basically any institution that feels they want to be united, implement change and inspire other people as well. We want to connect with as many people who are already doing that.
Watch the full video with Hutchinson, Facey, Otokito and Russell below.
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