Collaborator Profile: African & Caribbean Heritage Association (ACHA)

The African & Caribbean Heritage Association (ACHA) are a community group aimed at the over 50+ community in the Borough of Sutton and surrounding areas, who also do outreach work to the wider community. They were involved in Shed Loads of Happiness and our Light & Dark Festival. The project was led by Beverley Dixon, who tells us a little more about ACHA and her background.

Tell us a little bit about your group.

The African & Caribbean Heritage Association known locally as ACHA, is a Community Organisation established 14 years ago to meet the needs of senior members of the African and Caribbean and wider community in Sutton and surrounding areas. The organisation's aims and objectives are to provide on a regular basis an opportunity for members to meet socially and take part in activities that enhance and support their well-being and enjoyment. These include arts, crafts and exercise along with additional learning and development of new skills. Our members attend regularly and enjoy sharing lunch together.

Additionally ACHA members have taken part in a number of community projects including with Sutton Cultural Services, Sutton STEAMs Ahead and other cultural and heritage projects in and around the borough. A number of our members have branched out and joined the Sutton's Women's Network Creative Writing Group. They have developed as writers and their work has been published in three anthologies.

Along with serving the needs of members, ACHA also reaches out into the community to provide Open Days and Community Events. This year has seen successes such as Grandparents' Day held at the Phoenix Leisure Centre, and Music on the Grass held in the grounds of St Elphege's School.

How were you involved in Sutton STEAMs Ahead?

Our most noticeable events this year were as part of the Shed Loads of Happiness Front Room project and the Light and Dark Festival's Black History month Darkness to Light event.

Both had a high level of community interest and the feedback for both was very encouraging. We collaborated with an artist in order to create the masks and paintings, and also a photographer who photographed the masks inside a light box to create an eye-catching set of photographs that we were able to develop into a slide show. Additional collaboration was with our guest speakers Iyamide Thomas and Eddie Smythe, and also our dancers from Sippsopps Entertainment for the main events across the day.

The projects were part of ACHA's fundraising cycle. We actively fundraise to provide exciting projects for our members to take part in. The themes chosen are a way of sharing the rich heritage of many of our members. Their stories are a legacy so to encapsulate them in project form and share them with the community was very rewarding.
ACHA hold regular meetings for their community bringing much-desired opportunities for social interaction and inclusive representation.

Were there any highlights and/or take-aways from being part of Sutton STEAMs Ahead?

Taking part in Sutton STEAMs Ahead allowed the African and Caribbean community to be a visible and valued presence in the borough. We were able to explore our known heritage and learn new facts from hidden histories.

What does STEAM mean to you?

My personal background in teaching has always been science-based, so that is what attracted me to the Sutton STEAMs Ahead initially. Since retirement, I have developed the creative skill of storytelling, projection and illumination. 

As a group, for our events we incorporated art in the design and creation of masks and stylised African paintings and of course, through poetry. Our projects have exhibited the use of physics in the use of photography, and included engineering and maths with the use of sound projection equipment and IT.

What’s up next for your group?

We would continue to be involved, if funds allow us to continue to support Sutton's projects!
Have you worked with us as part of the Sutton STEAMs Ahead programme? Contact us to potentially feature in a Collaborator Profile. Send an email to
Sutton STEAMs Ahead