Joel is the CEO and Founder of Paradigm project, which is a specialist prevention mentoring organisation seeking to reduce serious youth violence. The organisation looks at the root causes of violence and uses key social indicators to make positive change in the main areas of support and break the cycle of youth violence at the earliest possible opportunity.

Covid-19 and the death of George Floyd have caused a huge impact on conversations and debates world-wide. Joel reflected on the uncomfortability that people can feel when speaking about race, even when it relates to their own and drew attention to the significance of discussing identity and culture within the home to prevent it from solely being constructed by external influences.

Sharing his journey to founding Paradigm Project, Joel highlighted his alternative timeline and the importance of exploring and understanding this. Joel spoke about adversities, trauma and times of crisis which he referred to as “an accelerated purpose of learning”, as well as the impact of going to prison and the transition to his current position.

Mental health:
Suicide rates are higher in young men of Black African and Caribbean origin and it is vital that we provide support and understand the stigma around mental health in certain communities. We should openly encourage conversation around mental health. Highlighting his own experience Joel shared a beautifully written, honest and moving poem which focused on the value of illuminating internal feelings and the power of expression.

The use of code switching provides the ability to adapt in many social situations, however, this can also be used to cope with trauma and feelings of shame and confusion. Cultural competence is important, not only in the interventions that we give to young people but in all aspects of life. There is often a barrier in relating to people from different backgrounds and it is important to build trust. Cultural competence is not a destination, but a journey and plays a large part in the highs and lows of life.

Moving forward Joel believes in making the best of every situation and being productive in order to find your purpose and realise your potential. Paradigm project is about legacy and his chance to create long-term meaningful impact.

Key takeaways:
1. Exercise resilience– actively work on this, not just in times of crisis
2. Self-awareness is never the antidote– understanding yourself is the first step in an exploratory journey
3. Cultural identity is the anchor– this forms the way we view ourselves and our sense of belonging

Paradigm Project’s flagship program is called My Next Steps and is designed to better support children through the transitional phase between primary and secondary school. The programme has three main streams- teachers, parents and students and the overall aim is to identify the children who are most at risk by initiating open conversation about emotional wellbeing, identity and friendships and leads to specialist one-to-one mentoring to assist these young people for their first term of secondary school.

Joel is also the director of ‘Be Purpose Driven’ a training solutions company and is working on a report with Deloitte and the Stephen Lawrence Trust which is due in February.

To contact Joel, please email:


Joel Dunn:

Paradigm Project:

You can find our more about Paradigm Project here:

If you have any feedback, comments or questions related to these sessions, please email

By Angellique Woolery and Ben Joseph