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Patrick Augustus: 'I will write another Baby Father book'

PLANS: Patrick Augustus

FANS OF Patrick Augustus’ Baby Father will be excited to hear that the author plans on writing a new instalment of his popular parenting novels – but it won’t be published anytime soon.

For now, Augustus’ main focus is further developing the school he founded in The Gambia for disadvantaged children, and also building a health centre.

Explaining why he decided to build a school in the West African country, Augustus says: “I’m lucky because I have an education. I know there are a lot of children out there who aren’t as fortunate.

“And there’s no substitute for education. If you don’t have an education you’re in a bad place. So I’m doing my best to help. That’s why charity work is important to me.”

He continues: “I decided to open a school in Gambia when I was out there on a trip. I went there with a group of friends. One of them threw a packet of cigarettes on the floor, and a four-year-old girl ran out, tore the box open, spread it out, and she was just so happy that she had something to write on.

“That made me think: ‘Right, I need to open up a school and help these children’.”

MAIN FOCUS: Patrick Augustus outside his Gambia-based school

Augustus and his team finished building The Bojang Tamba School of Excellence in the village of Lamin in 2011.

“I thought it was important to actually build a school from scratch – especially as a black person. Because in Africa, very often they see white people coming to the rescue. It was important to me for them to see a black image of help.”

This month sees the fifth annual Stand Up, Be Counted charity fundraising event, organised by Augustus. The event, which will take place at the luxurious Croydon Park Hotel on October 31, will help raise money for his Gambia-based school, as well as the UK-based Croydon Supplementary Education Project (CSEP).

“What I do is I put on these events so people can see exactly where their money is going,” Augustus explains.

The 2015 event will include workshops, poetry and performance by UK soul singer Omar and lovers rock icon Caroll Thompson.

“It will start with the workshops as part of Black History Month. It’s very educational, very important and very entertaining.

“The main thing I’m trying to get across is that it’s Black History Month and a lot of us get a chance to read about history, but a lot of us also have the chance to make history, and make a difference. Just by buying a ticket, you can help change the world.”

As well as his philanthropy work in Africa, Augustus is also the co-founder of the Black Fathers Support Group in London – a club aimed at providing support and advice to black fathers experiencing issues with getting access to their children.

The group was set up after the release of his hit 1994 autobiographical book, Baby Father, which was adapted into a 2001 BBC drama of the same name.

The popular programme followed the lives of four black men – played by UK talents David Harewood, Wil Johnson, Fraser James and Don Gilet – as they navigated the world of fatherhood.

“I started to do workshops for men around a year after Baby Father because men – especially at book signings – would come up to me with their issues,” the father-of-six explains. “I was hearing the same kind of scenarios over and over again. So that’s how the workshops developed.”

“We probably have around 30 regular members and probably around 60 people who come from time to time.”

He continues: “We set it up because there was a lot of negative stuff out there about black fathers – like they don’t talk to their kids, and don’t get involved in their kids’ lives.

STARRING ROLES: The cast of Baby Father

“So we wanted to help and advise people who got into problems with their spouse. We try and give them light at the end of the tunnel.”

Now, 21 years after the first book was published, Augustus says he will work on a new instalment “at some point.”

He explains: “I went to Gambia for the first time in 2001, and since then my mind has been focused on that. When I saw the poverty down there, it made me a different person. It’s one thing to see it on TV, but when you’re actually there, you can see their pain.

EDUCATION IS KEY: Augustus (back row, centre) stands next to Croydon Supplementary Education Project manager Jacinth Martin, along with young students showing off their certificates for excellence

“So my focus has really been on development in Africa. We have the school and I’m also starting to build a health centre. When those projects are done and dusted, then I probably will write another book. So at some point, I will be going back down that road.”

Stand Up, Be Counted Part 5 takes place at Croydon Park Hote on October 31. For more information call 0208 686 7865

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