About us

Our history

Following the creation of their successful black artists development programme for UK schools and prisons, Evwreni Productions, Odiri Ighamre and Paul Aiken founded KORI in 2002.

In our early days, we were busy responding to the urgent needs of young African and Caribbean people in the London borough of Haringey. They felt they lacked a sense of ‘being held’ by their community. The context was one of high exclusions from schools, increasing youth violence and high pregnancy rates. Many of these young people had a very narrow field of life experience. Our response was the creation of a range of long-term projects with youth work practice and creativity at the core. From these, we developed the programmes we offer today.

We are proud of our varied support initiatives, delivered by youth workers and young leaders who grew within our organisation. Their KORI training enables them to facilitate workshops that include academic support; visual arts; drama; generic youth activities; and excursions. In 2004, we started taking large groups of young people to countries in Africa, sharing their skills with other young people and building their personal and professional development.

Our values

Accessing Learning – We believe in life long learning. This means we are committed to creating, sourcing and sharing opportunities that support young people, staff and volunteers to develop personally and professionally.

Nurture – We commit to supporting young people to transcend barriers and limitations through providing them with support, growing opportunities and exposure in a range of contexts with diverse groups.

Environmental Awareness – Through well established partnership work and programme activities we expose young people to real learning and engagement with nature and their personal and collective responsibility to take care of the world we live in.

Creative Thinking – All of our work is led and underpinned by facilitating creative learning and the use of critical and reflective processes.

Cultural Celebration – We believe that young people grow most positively when they have diverse opportunities to learn and understand the value of their own culture and place in the world, which in turn allows them to respect and value the place of others.

Our vision

We want to be seen as a leading beacon charity that enables young disadvantaged people from a BAME and often low-income background to realise their full potential. We aim to provide the support they need to become confident, valued members of society, in control of their lives and careers, and empowered to contribute fully to the world in which they live.

Our work with young BAME people aged 14 to 30 includes bespoke mentoring, training programmes and exceptional social, educational and work opportunities.

We bring young people together, supporting and networking them through our partnerships, mentors and work experience opportunities. We build self- confidence, leadership qualities, cultural capital, skills and employment prospects.

Case studies

The Haven.bak

The Haven

One of our former projects, the Haven was a programme funded by Haringey council that supported children as young as seven who had been excluded from local schools. We advocated on behalf of the child, bridging parents and schools until they were successfully re-integrated.


We also led a mentoring programme funded by the Mayor of London, recruiting 54 volunteers to work with 74 boys over three years between 2011 and 2014. After which, we went on to run our own mentoring programme, which also included girls, for a further three years.

Talent match

We partnered with Talent Match in 2014, a London-wide youth employment initiative funded by the lottery. This supported an important part of our delivery for three years, strengthening our ability to mentor more young vulnerable adults into training, work experience and new careers.

Vessel UK

Since 2004, the growth of young people and professionals who volunteer in Africa through our Vessel UK programme has provided an amazing platform for cementing a sense of purpose, identity and achievement for so many people.

Who's who

Our trustees

Deasy Bamford – Chair

Deasy has worked for 30 years as an activist, creatively bringing people together across all cultures and divides. She co-founded and directed the Tribe of Doris Intercultural Summer School and festival for over 20 years. Deasy also founded Imalya, a youth and family organisation that uses culture and environment work to empower and enrich lives. Internationally, she led the setting up of The Black Cow Cross Culture Community Centre in The Gambia.

Marcel Plummer – Treasurer

Marcel is a strategy consultant, who has worked with numerous multinational companies on advanced analytics and high level strategic projects. He brings his knowledge of finance and strategy to his position as treasurer. Marcel graduated from the University of Warwick with a First Class Honours in MORSE Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics.

Belinda Edgeworth
Belinda Edgeworth – Education

Belinda has worked as an educator across primary education for over 30 years, supporting the learning and developmental needs of children. She is founder of The Learning Tree tuition business, which she has been steadily building over the past few years. She firmly believes that a creative, nurturing environment aids learning and retention. She is also a talented painter and photographer.

Lydia Scott – Fundraising

Lydia is passionate about non-profits and has been a professional fundraiser for over 5 years. She has worked in both local and UK-wide charities for a range of causes. A proud Londoner with a passion for people, travel and the arts, Lydia has a degree in History and Politics from Nottingham University.

Our management

Odiri Ighamre – Co-founder/CEO

Using her innovative “through the tunnel” learning based on the application of social pedagogy, Odiri inspires a new generation of young people to create sustainable platforms in communities across London and The Gambia. As co-founder of KORI Youth Charity and the Daughters of Africa Foundation -her approach which encompasses Mentoring, Advocacy, Training and Creativity - has seen significant impact at both a London wide and Pan-African level. As well as being an author of Acadia, a children’s book focused on the environmental issues impacting Africa, in other work she has presented her work at both a national and international level, for example, ‘Women Tellers’ for promoting the art of Storytelling; Evwreni Productions: training African and Caribbean Artists to work in education. Odiri’s academic background is in Social Pedagogy, Education, Youth and Community Development and Creative Writing. An avid Arts Educator having facilitated leadership training through storytelling for Postgraduates at Ashridge and International leaders at Save the Children. Her contribution to this work has reached diverse audiences including National Museums, Schools, Libraries, mental health facilities and HM Prisons. She was recognised by Camden Council for her work in establishing a leading Young Carers Project in Camden and has trained youth workers across the UK and in Africa. Her 30-year track record of voluntary sector work equips her to lead KORI Youth Charity and co-direct the Daughters of Africa Foundation and to continue to develop innovative programmes that respond effectively to the needs of young people and their communities.

Poppy Tomlinson – Programme Manager

Starting as a volunteer mentor then becoming an administrator and facilitator, Poppy has been with KORI since 2015. Through both academic study and practical work Poppy has continuously developed her awareness of Childhood, youth & development and works passionately to support youth and community growth. As Programme Manager her focus in KORI is the strengthening of the three programmes and building new partnerships.
Poppy has also worked with children and young people for the past 12 years in a variety of settings both in the UK and abroad. Currently whilst programme managing KORI Poppy is also working as part of a team creating an Eco-Art-Tech Hostel in The Gambia focusing on building workshops that will develop skills for both locals and travellers enabling local and global community development.

Adiam Yemane – Social Media

Adiam is a professional photographer and visual artist. Her freelance work mainly focuses on capturing and highlighting social issues; aiming to influence change through visual documentation and storytelling. She has worked with KORI as a youth worker and artist since 2015. Passionate about travel, with Poppy Tomlinson, Adiam is part of working to build an Eco-Art-Tech Hostel in The Gambia which will focus on providing employment and skill development for both locals and travellers, enabling local and global development.

Our advisors

Demitrius Nurse – Partnerships and Organisational Development

In his business life, Demitrius has spent almost 40 years working in regulated financial services as a Financial Adviser. As well as building and managing a business, Demi has advised clients in both the SME and Public Sector. With a keen interest in youth development, he spent 8 years as an FA youth football coach and the past 7 years working within Kori, both as a coach/mentor with young people and helping the charity with its strategy and development. Born in London, Demi spends his time both here in the UK and in Grenada.

Margaret Cooney – Fundraising Development and Strategy

Margaret has had a varied career in the public, cultural and civil society sectors.
At the Big Lottery Fund she led the England regional team, developing ambitious partnership programmes that tackled social inequality and invested in skills, capability and talent at local level. Her main achievement was to set up the pioneering Local Trust, a £200m initiative providing social investment and support to 150 disadvantaged neighbourhoods in England.
She’s worked in a range of social enterprises, and leading charities and has been a consultant to many civil society organisations helping them to adapt to change, fundraise and transform their working practices. She’s currently a Director with Pilao Labs, a new service supporting better access to digital services.

Stephania Diane – Organisation Development Strategy

Stephania’s background is predominantly in the arts, events and hospitality industry with various short term projects within the charitable sector. Stephanie has spent most of her career developing processes and business development for various hospitality groups including Simmons Bars.
In 2011, she founded and the Live Music Agency, Emerald Live. Emerald Live is a Social Enterprise, staging live events within the community offering new platforms to young professionals in London’s creative industry. Emerald Live works in partnership with KORI raising funds and awareness aligning with their mission to nurture and develop their community through the arts.

Dr Sireita Mullings-Lawrence – Youth, Arts and Community Engagement

Lecturer in Applied Social Studies and Sociology. Sireita is a visual sociologist and artist who completed a BA in Art, Design and Education at the University of the West Indies (Mona) and Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts, where she majored in photography and graphic design in Jamaica.

Lydia Newman – Safeguarding and Charity Infrastructure

Lydia began volunteering for KORI 16 years ago, from there she was able to gain her first facilitation experience, develop and manage KORI projects and contribute to the Vessel international programme development. Her areas of focus are visual arts and performance, creative facilitation and youth charity infrastructure.

Our accountants

Moracle Chartered Accountants

Moracle is a leading management and business support company providing accounting, auditing and professional services.

Get in touch with KORI

Please use the form below for queries, further information or to learn more about our work. We look forward to hearing from you.