INSPIRATIONAL: Kemoy Walker is involved in a number of youth and community projects.
ASK ANYONE in Moss Side, Manchester about Kemoy Walker, affectionately known as Keem, and they are bound to have heard of him in some form or another.
Community Guardian, local ambassador, youth leader and teacher, Kemoy has a multitude of roles and excels in them all. His passion for his community is all the more impressive considering he spent his early years in Highgate, St Mary, Jamaica, where he was born and first came to Manchester in 2002 at the age of 11.
“When I lived in Jamaica I didn’t see this amount of crime in my neighbourhood. I was questioning why it was happening so much here.
“Where I grew up there was more of a community feel and it was about peace, love and the dances that used to take place in the area.”
As a youngster he joined the local youth centre, Moss Side Millenium Powerhouse, and was so inspired by the leaders there that he became a volunteer himself at the tender age of 15.
“Back then the youth workers were our role models, but that service just isn’t there any more,” he said. Undeterred by local authority budget cuts, which affected youth provision in Manchester, Kemoy has relentlessly campaigned for youth services in
the area and gave up his time voluntarily to start new projects and assist young people.
Following the riots in 2011, Kemoy, then just 21 years of age, launched a campaign for Manchester to have its own Youth Mayor, as a way of engaging with young people across the city. He was since elected to become Manchester City Council’s Youth Ambassador – a role he still fulfils today – providing a friendly ear for their concerns and issues around growing up in Manchester.
The Council also gave him the role of Community Guardian and Kemoy dedicates his time to the improvement of Moss Side and the surrounding areas. All this is in addition to his role as music teacher at Manchester Communication Academy and youth worker at Hideway in Moss Side, which provides a range of informal, challenging, educational activities for local, young people
between the ages of 11 and 25.
But it doesn’t end there. Not content with giving most of his spare time to local causes, Kemoy has established his own
performing arts group KYSO (Keem Youth Shout Out) and so talented are they that they were spotted to appear in a series of adverts for the Co-op which Kemoy describes as “one of the best experiences of my life”.
The first Christmas advert brings together real-life community groups to perform a heart-warming and uplifting version of the song Tender (originally by British band, Blur). Over the years, however, his efforts have certainly not gone unnoticed. He was presented with a Young Person’s Award in 2009 at the Outstanding Social Behaviour Awards and in 2012 with the Manchester Peace Award.
In 2014 and 2015 Mosscare Housing recognised his work in the community with special awards and in 2015 The Jamaican Society presented him with an award for services to the community.
“I was like a busy bee. Flying all over from place to place and that’s how many people have heard about me,” Kemoy said.
But one of the highlights for Kemoy was being chosen to be one of the seven ‘Manchester Diamonds’ to meet the Queen in person when she visited the city of Manchester in 2012. He was chosen because of the extra special lengths he had gone to to serve his community, improve his neighbourhood and help his neighbours.
And this was proved even more so over the Christmas period, again looking out for those less fortunate. After years of active service in his community, he focused on the hardship that many families face every year, with some having to make a choice
between paying bills or buying gifts for their children.
“It is a struggle for many families and I know that be cause I’ve visited and talked to parents in the community and they were saying to me that they just didn’t have enough money to buy gifts this year,” he said.
“We received 1,000 gifts from the Key 103 Mission Christmas Appeal – it was incredible and we were able to help more than 250 children.
“I went out and delivered a few of them myself – I was like Santa Claus. People were so grateful. The older children wanted
clothing and they received tracksuits, football boots and all the popular brands that they like, they were so happy.”
But it’s not just Kemoy’s efforts at Christmas time that make him extraordinary. And just like the regular honey bee, Kemoy has
many more miles to cover in his ambitions to be the best that he can be at everything he focuses his attention on.
“I have ambitions to become a headteacher, and in the future I want to set up an Academy of schools in Jamaica, similar to the Academy Trusts we have here, which will help to regulate standards.”
Having achieved so much at the age of just 27 this determined young man is most certain to achieve those goals.
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