A virtual gallery to celebrate Newham’s cultural history, a street names audit; a digital inclusion strategy, a business pledge to promote inclusion, and a staff survey on racism are among measures to tackle inequality and racism.
Following its pledge to tackle racism, inequality and disproportionality in the borough, Newham Council confirmed last week the latest measures to understand and address issues facing residents and council staff.
The programme has four main areas of focus: the role of Newham Council as an employer, the role of the council as a beacon of social change, the responsibility of the council to make Newham the best place for children and young people and the council’s duty to deliver greater equality through the services it delivers.
According to Councillor Rohit Dasgupta, Commissioner for Social Integration and Equality, despite Newham being the most ethnically diverse place in the country, too many of its residents face the same fundamental issues of inequality as the rest of the UK. “That is why -he said- it is therefore absolutely right that work to address racism and injustice should start here.”
“We are committed to making Newham a fairer, better place, where all our residents – regardless of whether they are Black, of Asian heritage, minority ethnic or from a disadvantaged group – are listened to, have the same life chances, enjoy good health and opportunities, and feel safe where they live”, Dasgupta explainded.
The council is introducing Community Time to Talk sessions to encourage residents to engage in conversations about racism, inequality and community cohesion.
Other programme highlights include: Creating a virtual gallery and heritage offer to celebrate Newham’s cultural history; conducting a street names audit ahead of a consultation with residents on potential changes to, or contextualisation of, problematic names; introducing a digital inclusion strategy to make broadband more accessible to our Black, Asian and minority ethnic residents; signing a business pledge with the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone to promote inclusion throughout Newham businesses; working with youth networks to establish a BAME young adviser’s network and creating a team of facilitators to deliver employability workshops to young black men.
The programme also refers to establishing a BAME community group under the Health and Wellbeing Board to explore the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME residents; introducing a new commissioning contract including a clause for good equality practice and ensuring equality standards are adopted in all commissioning; sharing the programme with education and youth work sectors, offering young people, parents and carers opportunities to discuss their experiences of racism and inequality, and supporting schools to tackle these issues; and Looking beyond Newham’s borders to learn from other boroughs and adopt best practice.
Internally, the council has conducted a staff survey on racism, inequality and disproportionality within the workplace, with the responses being used to develop “next steps” to address issues raised. The council introduced staff “Time to talk” sessions to discuss experiences of racism and inequality and build a culture of openness creating a learning environment. And a peer-to-peer mentoring scheme for staff will generate a deeper understanding of lived experiences and assist the development of the Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff.