An entrepreneurial couple have developed a sensory gift box and board game to teach people about black culture.
Justina and Max Lambert, from Dartford, came up with the idea as a way to get people to discuss different ways of life.
The couple, who are parents of five, own Max’s Caribbean Kitchen in Dartford and wanted to find ways to encourage different cultures to work together.
Primarily aimed as a training tool for small businesses, Justina said the pair launched the venture as a way of opening a dialogue on diversity.
Called My Cultural Experience, it is described as “an immersive and interactive diversity training package that engages all your senses to educate, bond and inspire your team and workplace in a highly enjoyable way and drive positive change”.
Customers can buy the sensory gift box – which includes food, drink and products to try – or a board game, which focuses on black culture. There is another package combining both the box and game, and more.
The 40-year-old said: “I wanted to make change with how black Britain is seen and try to make a better space for everybody.
“It breaks the silence where people don’t know or are scared to ask a question.
“This particular experience allows you to open a dialogue, in a safe space, without fear about being judged for your opinion and a space where people can learn about other people’s cultures, traditions and understandings.
“My background is mainly within criminal justice and in 2007 you would be in the office kitchen, and you would already see that there was divide – you would have the black corner and the white corner.
“It was a shame that it naturally divided in that state. Being mix raced, I’ve always tried to get along with everybody because I don’t believe in exclusion.
“There’s this timeless story where I hear that elders would continue to use the term ‘coloured’.
“I’m trying to break the notion of people saying things which are wrong, but they weren’t taught that it was wrong.
“It’s down to us as the younger generation to break that narrative and try to make it more universal in terms of the language we use.”
The full package contains a range of products and educational tools associated with African and Caribbean culture. It also includes the black history-themed board game created by the pair, called Excellence.
Justina, who is also the founder of the Dartford Afro Caribbean Community (DACC), continued: “We really tried to look at the senses – touch, taste and smell, visual.
“In My Cultural Experience, we wanted to include food and drink, as that’s an integral part of understanding other people’s culture.
“The gift box is jam-packed with African and Caribbean-style foods.
“Some of the things you will see in the pack are plantain chips. It’s a fruit which is popular among the African and Caribbean areas and can be cooked in many different ways.
“We also have chin chin, another African snack which is popular in the party scenes, Jamaican ginger cakes and Supermalt.
“We also immerse you in shea butter and incense sticks.
“The Excellence board game is something me and my husband created over the course of lockdown.
“What it does is celebrate what black people have achieved. It’s just something for people who like to understand who we are.
“We also have over 20 worksheets you can choose from that talk about so many different things, such as the blue plaques on heritage sites.
“You’d be surprised how many black people lived here in the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s who were pioneers in what they were doing at the time.”
In the welcome letter which comes with the combined package, there are also details of a log-in to a final presentation online.
Justina said: “The presentation is a 45-minute talk that looks at black Britain as a whole, our traditions, what we’ve brought to the country, and learnt from the country.
“We look at racism and things which are happening currently.
“At the end of the course each organisation is given a diversity statement, which shows that you’ve participated in a training course which looks at the topic.”
Max added: “The experience is very important. All workspaces should have something like this, especially when talking about diversity.
“It’s beneficial to understand your fellow colleagues’ culture.”
You can find out more at myculturalexperience.com
When the couple aren’t working on this or at the Caribbean cafe, they like to take a break from their busy schedule.
Max added: “There’s not that much spare time, as we have kids, but when we do get spare time, we go on holiday, relax and come back again.
“My day can start from 4am, getting up, get to work to start cooking, come back, take the kids to school and then back to work to make sure everything is in order, catch up on paper work, so it’s a packed day.
“We keep our relationship together by keeping everything in-house. We do everything together and trust in each other.
“If I lack in something she will pick it up, and if she lacks in something I will pick it up.
“It’s not just on one person. We’re just one of many couples, you just don’t see the rest of them, that’s all it is, we just happen to have a platform.”
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