Meet Ben from TASTE
Why did you come to Sheffield?
I came to Sheffield in 1985 to read Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Sheffield.
I was born in Nigeria but came to the UK when I was 8 years old. I was brought up in London and never thought I would live anywhere else until I arrived in Sheffield. Thirty-two years on I am still here in Sheffield and loving living in this great city and can’t think of living anywhere else – that sounds familiar. This time I mean it unless God has other plans.
Why did you set up TASTE?
As I said, I was born in Nigeria, leaving the country to come to the UK at the age of 8. I was therefore old enough to remember the hardship of growing up in communities where much of the day was spent going to fetch water from the local stream – at least it appeared like that to me as a young boy.
Having moved to London, my family made periodic visits to Nigeria to see our relatives. During these times, our relatives must have thought we were well off, if we could as a family of 5 afford for all of us to travel back to Nigeria. At each visit our relatives would come with a list of needs they hoped that we would help them with. The reality was that we spent years saving up and making sacrifices so that we could make those trips – we were as poor as the proverbial church mouse.
However, I recognised during those visits that as poor as I felt we were, they were poorer and as needy as we were they were needier. The main request that everyone seemed to make of us was for help with getting access to clean drinking water. I could empathise with them over this need as I still had a vivid memory of early morning and late afternoon visits to the local stream to fetch water, a round trip of about 5k.
I felt that this particular need was one that needed addressing even though I did not have the means, personally to help the whole community gain access to clean water.
In discussions with my Christian friends at our church, Wycliffe Independent Church, we decided to set up a charity to help not just the community that my family comes from, but other similarly needy communities in Nigeria.
In September 1999, TASTE was registered as a charity with the Charity Commission for the work of helping communities particularly in the area of gaining access to clean water.
What is your role at TASTE?
I started as one of the six founding Trustees of TASTE. However, when the then Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was called by Wycliffe Independent Church to lead the Church Plant that the Church was setting up in Crystal Peaks, I took over as the CEO, a role that I still hold 5 years on.
Tell us about your family?
I am married to Sue whom I met at Wycliffe Church. Sue has worked as a GP in Sheffield since the late 1980s. We have three lovely (most of the time) children.
Sarah, the oldest is in her second year of a Physiotherapy degree, James our middle child is currently on a GAP Year at The Oakes Holiday Centre in Norton, Sheffield. He hopes to follow in his big sister’s footsteps in studying Physiotherapy, even at the same University in the Autumn. Our last child Jess has just finished at Bethany Christian School and has just started her GCSE exams. She hopes to go on to study A Levels at one of the local schools.
What do you enjoy in Sheffield outside of work?
If you were to ask my family what I “enjoy in Sheffield outside of work”, they would probably that there is no “outside of work” as they think that all my waking hours are spent on TASTE business – not true!
I enjoy spending time with my family, including extended family in London, North Wales and the West Midlands. I also enjoy meeting up with my Church family on Sundays and during the week.
I like driving out into the Peak District and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation.
I also enjoy playing all sorts of games and sports including football, badminton etc with my friends and enjoy watching my team Chelsea win the Premier League season after season.