‘Race Equality Week provides an opportunity to celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of each other’s cultures whilst learning something new and standing in solidarity to challenge inequality and racism in line with our Challenging inequality strategy. I am delighted to support our involvement in this ground breaking initiative. Islington is a richly diverse community, and we are proud of this. We will continue our work to ensure that everyone can achieve their potential and live their lives free of discrimination.’
Why is Race Equality Week important?
We are committed to challenging inequality, racism and injustice which we have outlined in our Challenging Inequality Strategy. Currently in our second year of delivery, we have embarked on an incredible journey of educating our community to better understand the issues and challenges that disproportionality affect marginalised/minority ethnic groups. This ground breaking work we have started has brought us closer to residents and staff enabling us to work collaboratively to embed sustainable change.
Our staff Race Equality Network developed organically following the devastating murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others. Staff came together in solidarity taking a stand against racism by creating a plan of action that our management board have agreed to implement to strengthen our anti-racist practice and develop organisational cultural awareness.
Race Equality Week is integral to our fairness and equality agenda and presents a great opportunity for us to reaffirm what we stand for.
What are Islington Council's plans for Race Equality Week?
Deliver a range of events that promote knowledge and understanding of different issues that continue to blight our communities such as ‘understanding the pipeline from PRU to Prison – what the data says’. Exploring what we have learned about the overrepresentation of Black children in the care system – discuss why this could be.
In conversations events with men from different ethnic backgrounds talking about mental health experiences and anxieties around seeking help.
Invite keynote speakers to share insights on allyship and anti-racist practice. Shed light on different experiences of racism and how it can affect mental health and wellbeing.
What do you hope to achieve as a result?
Empower our audiences to understand the depth and breadth of different issues that affect different groups.
Invite our audiences to challenge their own thinking and experiences of racial stereotypes and how they play out in our society today.
Encourage our audiences to advocate for others and speak up when they see or experience racism happening to others.
Upskill our audiences with tools/techniques they might be able to use in different settings ∙ Inspire individuals to think broadly about what they can make a change/difference ∙ Raise awareness of the ongoing work we are doing to challenge inequality and how to take part.
Why this year’s theme (#ActionNotJustWords) is so important?
#ActionNotJustWords is not just a theme to us, it is a principle and ties in with Race Equality Network mantra – Actions speak louder than words! Many of our staff and residents alike feel there has been too much talking for far too long and not enough progress. Because of this we task all network members with the challenge of ‘doing something’. If everyone does a little we all move forward. We need to stress the point that it is not enough to call oneself an ally and do nothing. It is not enough to be non-racist we must be anti-racist!
Curtis Ashton, Director of Young Islington, People Directorate
Race Equality Week is important to me because it signifies Islington’s commitment to becoming a fairer and more equal place for all. Young people and parents have consistently spoken to me about the struggles that they face because of their race. They have certainly acknowledged that there have been improvements, but that there is still a long way to go. For example, if you are a Black young person you are more likely to be excluded from school, more likely to be stopped and searched by the police and more likely to experience emotional difficulties – this is very concerning. Race Equality Week represents a collective pursuit of equality for all and this is why I fully support it.
Message from the co-chairs of Islington’s Staff Race Equality Network
Over the last 18 months we have been hard at work raising awareness of the issues that deeply affect Black and Brown communities through educating our organisation on the different aspects of racism, approaches to implement positive change and ways to embed anti-racist practice in everything that we do. While we still have much work to do, we are certainly building momentum for the long journey we still have ahead of us in our fight for racial equality.
Thanks to our Black History Month working group #BH365 members of our Race Equality Network, we have proudly adopted an approach to celebrating diversity and culture all year round and have created an ethos that puts learning, engagement and cultural awareness at the forefront of our organisation. Race Equality Week is another fantastic opportunity for us to demonstrate what we stand for and to empower others to stand too.
Tess Lundy, Sharie Omoragbon, Daniel Waithe