Unrestricted Ldn is uplifting young Black girls’ self-confidence through its community

The burgeoning social enterprise founded by Danielle Honger hopes to challenge the “angry Black girl narrative” and offer sisterhood and mental health awareness through its workshops and projects.

4 May 2021

A New Angle is an editorial series that aims to give a platform to creative industry changemakers who make it their mission to disrupt the status quo. Each week we’ll chat to a person or team doing important work in the sector, making it a fairer place, championing vital causes, supporting underrepresented groups and tackling pertinent issues facing creatives everywhere.

Danielle Honger is the founder of Unrestricted Ldn, a social enterprise based in south London that aims to support young Black women and women of colour “who feel unappreciated, unseen and unheard”. It holds workshops and discussions, and organises projects such as its recent zine Respect Me, to create community and raise mental health awareness for those who need it, with the ultimate aim of uplifting young women and challenging “the angry Black girl narrative”. Danielle is part of Battersea Arts Centre’s Agency programme, which works with young UK-based social entrepreneurs to develop their ideas for projects, businesses and events.

It’s Nice That: What is your mission, and what about the creative industry are you hoping to change?

Danielle Honger: I aim to have a wider conversation with young women than what’s currently being focused on in the media, or taught in schools. Through workshops and exhibitions, we identify and discuss the differences we face and what we can do to help one another. I am doing these workshops to help these young women to find different solutions and outcomes for issues they’re facing that aren’t being properly addressed. It’s helped me with my own doubt and fears, remembering to be easier on myself.

INT: Tell us a bit about your background, or the background to the organisation, and what led you to this point.

DH: Growing up all I saw was young Black women or women of colour being viewed and judged as rude, aggressive, loud. All these adjectives were to break you down and ultimately make us judge one another. It wasn’t often that I would hear them say I’m feeling down or I’m anxious about this. Or anything related to their mental welfare.

Gradually it went on to “wow you’re so strong” and instantly that’s it, always being put into a box. I saw women close to me suffer in silence and it was a sign for me, to create a place where women could come together and do things to take us out of our comfort zone and be great!

The older I get the more prominent it’s become. We saw it when Meghan Markle bravely came forward and spoke about her difficulties with mental health, the response wasn’t supportive from the masses. Once again it’s a reminder that when we come forward to speak it’s a 50 per cent chance you’ll be taken seriously. 

INT: What are the major challenges you’re facing, and why?

DH: During Covid I faced many challenges, not being able to physically meet people in person to resolve specific issues, or have meetings, made things challenging. I was creating my website earlier this year and relaying information through email was difficult because you can’t always convey your vision. Another difficulty I faced was learning about coding and a lot of tech stuff. There’s a lot that goes behind the scenes that I wasn’t aware of to this degree, but it’s rewarding and I’m learning on the job.

Staying motivated during this lockdown was hard because I was making sure that I was consistent and disciplined with Unrestricted Ldn socials while taking care of myself and my mental welfare. 

INT: How are you tackling them?

DH: I have continuous conversations with The Agency via zoom and I’m also collaborating with a few other Agents at the moment, to discuss upcoming events and creative projects that we’re working on. I’m part of the Inside-Out Collective of Agents and we’re producing Free Up Fest [part of Battersea Arts Centre’s Wild Times season] for the local community to come together and celebrate in July. This has helped tremendously because there’s something I’m looking forward to. 

The Agency taught me how to be business savvy, confident and bold. I’ve been learning about marketing strategies and finding new innovative ways to boost my social presence. Ultimately, the importance of planning and networking, which has provided me with a different insight into different fields and advice and tips that have helped me excel. 

INT: How can the creative industry help your mission?

DH: I would ask for venues and arts organisations to have schemes for young creatives to hold workshops or projects, offering mentorships, activities and information relating to their specific career. It would help us tremendously to get our foot in the door and have big names behind us which will elevate us further. 

We need more advertisements across different social platforms or newsletters, finding new ways to get to us. The Agency at Battersea Arts Centre is an excellent example of an arts organisation that offers great support to young creatives to build up their own ideas.

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output.

Jenny is currently on maternity leave.

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