Newham Council launches programme to tackle inequality, racism and disproportionality

Challenging inequality, racism and disproportionality will be at the heart of Newham Council’s renewed commitment to making the borough a fairer place.

This Black History Month – and as the Black Lives Matter movement continues to inspire positive change and champion the contributions of Black and minority ethnic communities across the globe – Newham Council has unveiled an ambitious programme to accelerate its work to stand up for all the borough’s people.

While the scandalous and tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the USA and the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black and minority ethnic communities have further highlighted the need to break down the systemic racism and inequality that continue to exist in society, the council has reinforced its commitment to promoting fairness and challenging all inequality, racism and injustice in Newham.

This means creating a borough that is safe and fair for everyone to live and work in; a borough that provides the best possible start in life so that everyone growing up in Newham has the same chances in life, and a borough where the council listens to the concerns of communities, learns from them and then acts.

The council’s new programme sets out how it will achieve this. Pledges include:

  • Leading the way as an exemplar employer, including tackling issues around recruitment and selection, staff development and ensuring we have a representative workforce at all levels of the organisation.
  • Working with partner organisations to ensure we are collectively tackling racism, inequality and disproportionality.
  • Consulting colleagues about the use of the term ‘BAME’ and whether it remains appropriate for describing minority groups.
  • Enabling staff to live our values and putting in place measures to improve understanding and allow for reflection and challenge to ensure we are an anti-racist organisation. 
  • Expecting all council services, whether directly run or externally provided, to be inclusive and provide support that recognises the diversity in Newham.
  • Using our commissioning influence and strategic partnerships to encourage good equalities practice across Newham to ensure people feel confident in accessing services regardless of their ethnicity and personal characteristics.
  • Ensuring new road and building names recognise the history and diversity of the borough so that people do not feel alienated where they live.
  • Reclaiming the rich, important and diverse history of our cultures and communities in Newham so people feel increasingly proud to live here.
  • Having no tolerance of any form of racism or hate-speech, and working with partners to stop it and challenge those who perpetuate it.
  • Inspiring every child in Newham so that they have hopes, opportunities and aspirations for their future.
  • Launching a Youth Empowerment Fund to help promote opportunities for children and young people, including those from BAME backgrounds, so that they have more equitable life chances.

Councillor Charlene McLean, Newham’s Deputy Mayor (Community) and Lead Member for Community Neighbourhoods said: “Newham is the most ethnically diverse local authority in the UK and we’re proud of the great community spirit and harmony that exists across our different neighbourhoods.

“However, racism and injustice are huge issues for this country and we know their devastating effects can also be felt across our communities. That’s why we are determined to challenge inequality, racism and injustice wherever it emerges.”

Cllr Rohit Dasgupta, Commissioner for Social Integration and Equalities, said: “We are committed to making Newham a fairer, better place, where all our residents – regardless of whether they are Black, minority ethnic or from a disadvantaged group – are safe, get the best possible start in life and have the same life chances. And where their concerns will always be heard.

“These commitments set out how we will work with our partners and Black and minority ethnic residents and all disadvantaged groups to challenge inequality, racism and injustice and deliver real, profound and lasting change.”

Published: 21 Oct 2020