Our mission at Active Gloucestershire, is to help everyone across the county to live healthier and happier lives, by moving more. This involves us engaging with those communities across Gloucestershire who are the least active and understanding the challenges they may face. Evidence has shown that because deeply entrenched inequalities exist in Gloucestershire, people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are less likely to do as much physical activity as the government recommends. As such, our scope of work has grown to include working with people from minority ethnic communities.
However, the Black Lives Matter movement has given rise to emotive and passionate discussion within our team over the last few months, specifically on the impact of racism and how we as an organisation should confront and respond to it. These discussions have helped to shape the realisation that as an organisation whose work focuses on improving the lives of under-represented communities in Gloucestershire, we acknowledge that we need to do more to support those from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
Racism is abhorrent and we will not tolerate it, in any form. However, it is simply not enough to acknowledge this. Real change is needed. We, at Active Gloucestershire, believe we have a responsibility to improve the lives of black, Asian and minority ethnic groups across the county by widening access to opportunities in sport and physical activity. However, to do this, we first need to better understand the system, the potential barriers that exist within it, as well as the strengths, passions and skills of the minority ethnic groups we are working with. We have started to work towards this by:
- Identifying places where more black, Asian and minority ethnic people live, co-designing interventions with them and supporting community led change.
- Building relationships with and funding organisations that work alongside black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.
- Producing an equality and diversity plan, which outlines our commitment to building a more diverse Board, one that is more accurately representative of the people in our county and one that is capable of connecting with those we work with and understanding the difficulties they may face.
- Providing our staff with focused equality and diversity training on unconscious bias and race, which will help to shape our team’s engagement with the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities we work with and better equip us to tackle inequalities across the system.
- Encouraging staff and trustees to take part in some self-learning - spending time researching and accessing educational opportunities, so as to understand more about the inequalities and injustices that persist in our society today.
However, whilst we have made some progress, there is more we can do, more impact to be made and more learning to be gained in order to work towards closing the gap in racial inequality.
Therefore, going forward, we commit to:
- Collectively discussing what we have learnt during our self-education sessions and using these conversations to inform the way in which we engage black, Asian and minority ethnic communities effectively
- Broadening the ‘doorway’ so we have representation in these conversations from a diverse group of people from within the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities
- Working with local and national experts to help us deliver our equality and diversity action plan
- Assessing the impact of our equality and diversity work, using equality impact assessments, so that we can ensure the work we deliver is genuinely meaningful and brings about lasting, positive change
- Working with our county’s black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, recognising and celebrating their strengths and passions and utilising their influence to inform our work and place us in a stronger position to offer meaningful support. This work will include local community visits, regular dialogue with residents and extending invitations to our county’s black, Asian and minority ethnic community leaders to join our steering group sessions and help inform and shape our conversations and priorities.
- Being proactive in securing representation on our board and staff team that reflects the communities we are targeting to work with
- Striving to be an employer that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds want to work for by exploring opportunities to participate in diversity accreditation schemes
- Continually surveying our organisation’s own diversity profile and ensuring that we take steps to identify and fill any gaps, including gaps in cognitive, socio-economic and religious diversity.
Within Active Gloucestershire, we will continue to have challenging conversations on this topic and as CEO, I am committed to providing our team with the time and space to work these through.
I am in no doubt that as an organisation we are determined to learn and do more, but I also know that words are easy to write and that we will be judged, rightly, on our actions and our ability to deliver positive change.
Tom Beasley, CEO