The shocking death of George Floyd last summer and the subsequent Black Lives Matter movement initially impacted on the team at Wesport in many different ways and to differing degrees. Some were immediately ready to respond, have uncomfortable conversations and ultimately take action, whereas others questioned what they could do and even how or if this affected them.
Fast forward to May 2021 and those questions have disappeared. We can confidently say as a whole team, including our Board of Trustees, that we most definitely do have a role to play and a responsibility to fulfil our commitment to become an anti-racist organisation and proactively tackle the racial inequalities that prevent or discourage people from leading active lives and enjoying the benefits of sport, physical activity and movement.
Here is a snapshot of the work we have been doing so far…….
Race Equality has been added to our operational planning so that the whole team can continually feed in the work they are doing that contributes to our commitment to being an anti-racist organisation. This is an important way to ensure a shared ownership and commitment is achieved and maintained.
A whole team action planning session has taken place, with the second scheduled for June. This is a way for us to formulise our action plan in this area of work and clarify the roles and responsibilities we all have. This will ensure we can hold ourselves accountable to taking actions and maintaining momentum.
Our CEO, Steve Nelson, has been heavily involved in the work being driven by the AP Directors. This has been really beneficial to us all as we have listened, learnt and benefitted from the sharing of this work and direction of travel of the network as a whole. We were very conscious to ensure that this work didn’t end up solely with Steve, so one of our Project Managers has been given responsibility for this work area, with the knowledge and understanding that this is very much a whole team effort.
Whole Team Staff Training:
All Wesport staff, including trustees have attended a ‘How to be an ally’ training session, facilitated by Bristol-based Interculture. The whole staff team also attended the AP Convention session on 16th March.
Other Staff Training:
- Equality, Diversity and Unconscious Bias Training for VCSE Groups
- Nilaari, Usawa Now’ Multi Agency Webinar.
Prioritising Funding: Tackling Inequalities Funding:
We took the decision to prioritise a proportion of our phase 2 TIF funding to support Black, Asian and ethnically diverse communities. We worked closely with local partners including Voscur and Black South West Network to widen the reach of this work and ensure the investment was reaching black-led organisations. Phase 3 of TIF will see a continuation of this focussed work and a commitment to further understand how race significantly impacts on inequality.
Black Interns Pilot Project:
Through our Business West connection, we were made aware of the West of England Black Interns Pilot Project. We have signed up as one of 22 organisations to employ an intern for 4 weeks in September 2021. The programme is targeting Black students across the West of England who have graduated within the last 12 months.
We are reviewing our recruitment processes to look at how we widen the places where we advertise our roles and in doing so widen our reach. We have been collating examples of adverts, terminology from local community organisations to help inform our messaging. In January 2021 we recruited 5 new trustees. We used an external recruitment company Moon
Executive Search who were tasked with advertising the role to a wider network in order to grow the diversity of our board. Our board is more diverse than many, but we know we still have work to do.
Learning from other AP’s:
We have had conversations with other Active Partnerships to learn how they are approaching and driving this work forwards. This learning has been so useful. A thirty minute conversation can provide so much, from reassurance that we are moving in the right direction through to practical advice and sharing of resources.
This month will see the start of a new club where we will discuss books/films/podcasts and continue with our uncomfortable conversations around race in a safe space. This is totally optional and open to all staff and trustees. It won’t be for everyone, but we hope it will be a positive and useful space for some. The first title we will be discussing is How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.
We have written two blogs about the Black Lives Matter movement and the work the Active Partnership networks are doing. You can read these by clicking the links below.