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Timeline for a change

Get creative, get moving, and create a timeline of black British history.

You will need

  • Big pieces of paper
  • Coloured pens or pencils
  • Sticky tack
  • Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
Black British history: events and people
PDF – 130.2KB

Before you begin

  • Make sure you’ve risk assessed your meeting, and also have a COVID-19 safe risk assessment that’s been agreed by your line manager. You can check out more detailed guidance here
  • Decide whether you’ll include all of the timeline events. Write the dates of the events you’re including on pieces of paper and stick them on the wall of your meeting place. If you’re meeting outside, get creative – you could ask people to hold the sheets of paper up or pop them on the floor and weigh them down with pebbles.
  • Print (or write out) the ‘Black British history: events and people’ sheets. You’ll need at least the title of each event, but a bit of information is helpful too. It’s up to you whether you include it all or pick out some key points – it’ll probably depend on your group.
  • Print (or trace) a world map and colour key countries in different colours. It’s probably useful to include at least Britain, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, Nigeria, and Somalia.

Safety checklist

Use the Safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity.  Additional coronavirus-related controls to think about may include: 

  • Make sure that everyone knows the plan for dropping young people off (and picking them up again).
  • Set up a hand washing station that you can use throughout the session. Everyone should wash their hands before and after they use equipment.
  • Remind everyone to stay socially distanced when moving around in the timeline activity.
  • Think about how you’ll hand out equipment and resources: people can’t share and they can’t all rush to collect it from one big pile.

Put it on the map

  1. The person leading the activity should show everyone the map with some countries coloured in.
  2. Everyone should get seven different coloured items (for example, pens or pencils) that match the colours of the countries on the map.
  1. The person leading the activity should name one of the countries. Everyone should hold up the colour they think that country is. The person leading the activity should reveal where the country is.
  2. Everyone should keep going until they know a bit more about where to find the countries.


Timeline time

  1. The person leading the activity should explain that black people have lived in Britain for hundreds of years. There’s a lot of black British history; this activity focuses on things that happened in Britain from 1948 to today.
  1. Everyone should get into small groups and sit down. Everyone should stay two metres apart (including people in the same group). Each group should choose one person to represent them near the timeline.
  1. The person leading the activity should stand in front of the timeline so they can add the events.
  2. The representatives from each team should line up in front of the person leading the game. They should stay two metres apart and they should be able to move up and down the timeline without coming within two metres of anyone else.
  1. The person leading the activity should read out the title of an event and explain what happened.
  2. Each team should work together to direct their representative to stand in line with where they think the event belongs on the timeline. Once everyone’s finished moving, the person leading the activity should reveal the answer and stick the event on the timeline.
  1. Everyone should keep playing until they have all of the events in the right order. Did anything surprise anyone?

Put a face to the name

  1. The person leading the activity should explain that all of the events on the timeline involved real people.
  2. The person leading the activity should help everyone choose a black person who made a difference to culture or British history.
  1. Everyone should find out more about the person they chose.
  1. Everyone should decide how they’ll tell other people about their person. They may want to draw a picture of the person (or some of their achievements), write down some key facts, or find a helpful video online.

Add to the timeline

  1. Everyone should take it in turns to share the person they chose and what they found out. What did they achieve? Why were they important in history of culture?
  2. Once everyone’s told their friends about their person, they should put them on the timeline.

Bring it all together

  1. The person leading the activity should remind everyone that the Scout values are integrity, respect, care, belief, and cooperation.
  1. Everyone should think about the person they chose. They may not have been a Scout, but everyone should think about how the people showed some of the Scout values.
  1. People should take it in turns to share their ideas.
  2. The person leading the activity should explain that racism is still a big problem today. Everyone should chat about some examples they may have seen in the media or learned about at school.
  1. Everyone should think about how their Scout values can guide them as they try to be anti-racist. How can they show respect for black people? When might they need to have integrity and stand up for what’s right?


This activity was all about being a citizen. Should all of the people who live in a country be equal? Can anyone think of an example of black people not having equal rights in Britain? Whose responsibility was it to change it? People may think about how it often takes more than one person to make a change. As local and national citizens, people have a responsibility to stand up for what’s right. How could people work together to make sure Britain becomes a fairer place for everyone?

This activity was also about respecting others. Why is it important to learn about black British history? People might think about how, even though it’s part of British history, it hasn’t always been spoken about. Learning about history can help people understand why things are the way they are today. Can anyone remember any black people who made a big difference to culture? People could think about Claudia Jones starting Carnival, Skepta and his music, or athletes like Mo Farah. What about to history? People could think about civil rights activists like Paul Stephenson or Darcus Howe or politicians like Diane Abbott. Why is it important that people learn about them?


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed.

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.

For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.

As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.