We were sad to receive the news that Mrs Betty Luckham passed away on 13th September.

Betty was a formidable woman who was fundamental in Cariocca coming into existence.

Born Betty Thompson in Georgetown, British Guiana (later becoming independent Guyana) in 1930, she started her working life at 18 at the Department of Transport and Harbours, before joining the civil service in the Housing and Planning Authority in the country.

In 1959, Betty came to England, where she met Bryan Luckham and they settled in Manchester in 1961, after they’d graduated from the London School of Economics.

She took on the role of a community development worker for the West Indian Federation, supporting newly arrived West Indians to the UK. She actively encouraged and involved people living in Moss Side to attend community events and worked in partnership with Mama Eloise Edwards – a fellow Guyanese – on long term projects to help create spaces for the African Caribbean community. Those spaces are still at the heart of the community.

Long after funding had ended for her post, Betty continued to be influential in the development of several Associations, including the West Indian Organisations Co-ordinating Committee (WIOCC), which in turn assisted the formation of Cariocca Enterprises.

Recognising the need for young Black entrepreneurs to have access to affordable workspaces, she, alongside Louise Da’Cocodia, Eloise Edwards and a small group of supporters, relentlessly campaigned to let Manchester City Council agree to the use of the land at Ardwick to establish and build Cariocca’s first site. And despite the many hurdles they were faced with, undeterred, Cariocca’s first tenant was welcomed in 1990.

Betty was appointed as Company Secretary and later became Chair for a number of years.

With the best interests of the community always at the forefront, amongst the many projects she was involved with was the Abasindi Cooperative, an organisation supporting Black women facing the many challenges of the 80’s and 90’s.

We were always humbled to see Betty and loved listening to her talk about her time with the organisation, always grilling us, including our Chair making sure Cariocca was still, at its heart, a place anyone would feel welcome and empowered.

Her empowerment, leadership, and vision will always run through the veins of Cariocca, and the Board continues to be proudly inspired by Betty’s legacy.

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