Reaching for the stars: The Story of Reach Society

Book rating: *****
Book review: The Story of Reach Society: The Professional Black Men Who Chose to Add Value
Authors: Dr Dwain A. Neil and Mrs Paula A. Neil

Publisher: Reach Society Publishing . £13.99. Click the book cover below to purchase the book.

The story of Reach Society is a fascinating story about the origins and creation of an organisation set up to try and help young Black boys and young men to achieve their full potential. The book takes you through the background and process leading to its formation in 2010 and it’s 5 year journey up to 2015.

Co-written by it’s Chairman and co-founder Dr Dwain A. Neil and his wife Mrs Paula A. Neil, they explain how Reach Society essentially arose from the ashes of the Government’s National Role Models Programme (NRMP) which ran from 2008-10. The couple reveal how and why three, hard working Black men, fathers and husbands, came together to try and solve the void that would be left with the closure of the NRMP.


Reach Society’s founders were Dr Dwain A Neil, Rob Neil (no relation) and Dr Donald Palmer, one of the NRMP’s regional role models. Its core purpose is to be an organisation that provides not just role models for young black boys and men to aspire to, but practical actions to “encourage, motivate and inspire boys and young men to own the development of their potential and make viable transitions into adult life.”

The authors makes clear that the organisation aims to inspire and motivate young people into non-stereotypical fields for black boys such as science, the civil service, engineering, banking, the royal navy and medicine etc… The vehicles through which they have done so are clearly set out.

It is a concise, relatively quick read, with plenty of detail about its three founding members and the seven role models that originally came on board. It contains lots of pictures from the numerous events they have already held showing the wide range of people who have joined the Reach Society journey, including Patron Sir Herman Ousley, ex-Footballer Sol Campbell and the first winner of ‘The Apprentice’, Tim Campbell MBE, plus many of the young people who have benefited from Reach Society’s work and events.

You get a clear sense of the society’s ethos and thinking behind creating a self-sustaining, self-funded organisation that is very ambitious but has been very careful not to over reach itself, preferring to live within its means. It was not reliant on funding or government hand outs, which meant that their independence, vision and mission has not been compromised and will not end due to withdrawal of government or other funding it could have become reliant on. This is a model I know the 100 Black Men of London charity adopts. It’s somewhat ironic that the self-funded organisation was created off the back of the closure of the government’s National Role Models Programme which closed in 2010 due to cut backs.

In a way, the Reach Society story is a modern day guide to forming a successful, goal orientated, sustainable, self-funded charitable organisation. In its 5 years to date Reach Society has positively impacted over 4,000 young boys and girls lives. What is so impressive and inspiring about their success, is not only their gradual, incremental growth and success, but that recognising what they have and can continue to achieve they realise they have the capability and ability to provide leadership to the wider black community going forward over the next 5 years of their journey.

The Story of Reach Society is published by Reach Society Publishing. £13.99 from here or by clicking on the book cover pictured above.

© Michael Peters, Tiemo Talk of the Town

Michael Peters is a Member of Reach Society and spoke at their first two Careers Conferences in 2011 and 2012.


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