A black-led youth group has ceased operating after more than £30,000 raised through a Black Lives Matter (BLM) fundraiser allegedly went missing.
Bristol-based Changing Your Mindset was set to benefit from cash raised from the GoFundMe page BristBLM For Changing Your Mindset in June 2020.
The money was to pay for the continuation of weekly support sessions plus an educational visit for the young users to West Africa.
But the cash never arrived in Changing Your Mindset’s bank account and all plans for the trip were put on hold.
The issue was reported to Avon and Somerset Police and a woman in her 20s was arrested- she remains under investigation today.
Now more than two years on from the money being raised, the group has made an ‘emotionally tough’ decision to close.
On July 19, a ‘farewell party’ was held for 24 young people at the group’s last base, St Werburghs City Farm, where everything from educational talks to cooking sessions took place during the weekly sessions.
Leaders have told BristolWorld that the decision to close was a difficult one, but with it being run by volunteers and with no money to pay for mentors’ time or for petrol or food at the sessions, it was the only one they could take.
A spokesperson said: “This has been an emotionally tough decision - we have achieved so much for young people and given them somewhere safe to be - but without the money to pay for it we have had to close and we held our last session two weeks ago.
“I think the young people thought we were joking at first, they just couldn’t believe it.”
The group had been running since 2019, starting life at the Malcolm X Centre in St Pauls.
Initial funding dried up, but then there was hope the group could continue after it was named as the main beneficiary of the fundraising page launched to cover costs of PPE at the BLM protest on June 7 in 2020.
As huge attention turned to the march with the toppling of Edward Coslton’s statue, the page went viral and raised more than £30,000. One woman donated £20,000.
Plans were then put in place by the Changing Your Mindset to set up the educational visit to West Africa for 20 of its young people. The money was also set to secure the organisation’s future for at least another year.
But two years on from the money being raised, the group hasn’t received it and police continue to investigate what happened. In the meantime, the group moved its sessions to the Kuumba Cente in St Pauls and then St Werburghs City Farm.
A spokesperson of Changing Your Mindset said: “It prevented us from taking people on the educational trip, and it made life hard for us to continue.
“We were unable to receive other funding and the volunteers have been paying for everything themselves to help the young people.
“We are all devastated - at the end of the day we want to provide somewhere safe for these young people, and now we can’t do that.”
Confirmation of the group closing can be seen on Companies House, where an application to dissolve the company, set up to receive the funding, has been made.
Asked if there was still hope for the group, the spokesperson said: “We could set up the group again if we had the funding - if anyone can help I’d ask them to get in contact with us by emailing [email protected]”
Following the protest march in Bristol in 2020, Bristol Black Lives Matter group changed its name to All Black Lives Bristol, part of the national All Black Lives UK group.
BristolWorld has contacted the All Black Lives UK group for comment.