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Tackling the youth justice crisis for BAME children must involve addressing their treatment by the Police

Feb 12, 2018

The Lammy review into the treatment and outcomes for Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people in the criminal justice system was launched in September and the Government responded just before Christmas. Lammy cited the youth justice system as his ‘biggest concern’ with a near decade of improving outcomes for white children and a simultaneous deterioration of those experienced by BAME children.

But what Lammy’s review clearly demonstrated was that although youth justice was the area where he had most concerns, the terms of reference of his review did not provide the scope for him to map out a route to comprehensively address the challenge. What happens in what could be described as the pathways into the youth justice system in education, the care system and children and adolescent mental health services are critical along with policing.

When we look into what is happening around policing and BAME children, the figures and, we believe, the underlying culture is a major cause for concern. In our view, this problematic culture is demonstrated by a lack of recognition of the problem by the police and statutory partners which could be in breach of their statutory obligations.

For example, research by the Howard League for Penal Reform found that, although across England and Wales police forces made fewer than 88,000 arrests of children in total in 2016, BAME children accounted for 26% of all child arrests. The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) research has revealed that in 2016 more than a third (36%) of children detained overnight in police cells in England were from BAME backgrounds. We think there is a pattern of ethnic disproportionality in policing which is impacting on BAME children and young people.

That’s why BTEG and CRAE, with the support of a number of knowledgeable organisations in the field of children’s services and race equality, have written to Sir Tom Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). We are requesting that conducts a national thematic review into the treatment of children and young people from BAME groups with specific focus on police forces’ legal duties with regards to safeguarding children and their duties under the Equality Act 2010.

One of the forces we are most concerned about is the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). Some of the MPS’s  own data (obtained through CRAE’s Freedom of Information requests and detailed in this briefing) shows stop and search is used disproportionately on BAME children in London with over half (54%) of all stop and searches on children in 2016 being o BAME children (with the disparity starkest in relation to black boys and young men who accounted for 37% of all stops and searches).

  • In 2016 at least 540 children in London were subjected to `more thorough’ or `strip searches’ with BAME children accounting for 71% of these intrusive searches.

  • In 2016, 8275 children were detained overnight in MPS custody. Nearly two thirds of these children were from BAME backgrounds (with black children accounting for 41% of all children detained overnight).

  • In 2008 after Tasers were introduced, MPS officers used them on children 9 times. Yet in the first 9 months of 2016 alone Tasers were used 118 times (including being fired 5 times.) Nearly 70% of these uses in 2016 were on BAME children.

  • From December 2016 to July 2017, the MPS conducted an initial pilot of the use of spit hoods in five custody suites. Since then the trial of the devices was rolled out to all custody suites in London. By the end of September 2017 there had been at least 7 uses of spit hoods on children (the youngest child being 15 years old.) Of these, four uses were on BAME children.

A national thematic review would provide an opportunity to address highly pertinent questions regarding the legal obligations and policy frameworks that the police work within and address crucial questions around the underlying policing culture in relation to BAME children.

CRAE and BTEG set out a number of key questions in the letter to Sir Tom including:

  • Is there effective and regular monitoring in place, including analysis of data by ethnicity?

  • Are regular equality impact assessments conducted across all policing activities which include an element of external challenge and are they published and used to develop improvement action plans? This is a requirement under the Equality Act.

  • Are disparities that are evident in force’s own data underpinned by differential treatment and stereotypes of BAME children and young people? Are forces acknowledging the potential for institutionalising differential treatment and how are they tackling this?

  • Is challenge given to the force through local multi-agency arrangements established to safeguard children and are these partners challenging forces on disproportionate treatment of BAME children and young people?

If we want to meet the challenge David Lammy has set around BAME children and youth justice we have to address policing. At BTEG we hope Sir Tom Winsor will carry out this review which could provide a much needed objective analysis of the current position.

 

The Government’s response to the Lammy Review - BTEG’s view

Feb 05, 2018

In December the Government launched its response to the Lammy review. The review made 35 recommendations to improve outcomes within the justice system in England and Wales for BAME communities.  Since then we have had a change in Justice Secretary with David Liddington MP departing to the Cabinet Office and David Gauke MP becoming the fifth incumbent in the role within the last four years.

A great deal of media coverage on the day of the launch focused on recommendation 16 from the review on the setting of target for the appointment of judges and magistrates. BAME individuals make up only 7% of judges and 11% of magistrates. This was the one recommendation the Government decided not to take forward. 

The issue of low levels of trust and confidence in the justice system from BAME groups was a central theme in the Lammy review and David Lammy has expressed his disappointment that the government did not pledge to go further to address ethnic diversity in the judiciary and magistracy. We agree with the importance of setting a target and want to see the judiciary do more to unlock the blockages that persist for BAME lawyers. The Government’s response had very little to say about the magistracy but we think a new drive to attract more BAME lay magistrates would see our magistrates courts reflecting the national BAME profile of 14%.

From our perspective at BTEG there were a number of points from the Government response that we welcomed particularly:

  • Recommendation 10 - A positive response to the proposal around deferred prosecutions building on the West Midlands Operation Turning Point with an emphasis on addressing ethnic disproportionality. The Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime in London is considering a pilot scheme. Our view at BTEG is that a pilot should be developed for the youth justice system which should be targeted at helping to address the challenge of ethnic disproportionality within the system.

  • Recommendation 17 - The recommendation for the development of a maturity assessment tool and that HMPPS is currently piloting this with offenders aged 18-25 in the adult system. The review highlights the growing neurological evidence around the development of the brain and that many young adults lack the maturity to make informed decisions up to and beyond their mid 20’s.  BAME young people who the review identify as being under diagnosed with regards to neurological conditions such as ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome should benefit from a greater recognition and assessment  of the role of maturity throughout the justice system.

  • Recommendation 34 - A strong commitment to address and rebalance the criminal records check framework as soon as relevant legal cases that are waiting to be heard are concluded. Employment and BAME communities is a key area of work for BTEG and the disparities in the employment market highlighted in the Government’s race disparity audit are further compounded for BAME offenders and clearly a major impediment to successful rehabilitation.

But there are areas where we are concerned.

  • BAME women - There are no specific recommendations for BAME women. However the review highlighted a number of concerns including disproportionately heavier sentencing for drug related offences.  At BTEG we noted the rise in the female offender population to numbers above 4000 for the first time in nearly 20 years which was disappointing. The impact of female incarceration on BAME communities and children in particular is huge.  BAME women and the disparities they face must get a greater recognition within the female offender strategy which should have reducing the number of women in prison at its heart.

  • Recommendation 31 - Despite the Young Review making the case for a greater role to be played by BAME led organisations this recommendation did not go far enough in addressing these imbalances in commissioning and representation. The focus primarily on Community Rehabilitation Companies supply chains was limiting and negated to reflect the Government’s difficulties in grappling with funding levels and supply chains generally. We welcome the MOJ taking a broader look at this issue encompassing a wider view of commissioning across the justice system.

  • The responses to the proposals around prisons are generally positive. However the difficulty of implementing these changes within the current instability in the prison system is a worry.

  • The Youth Justice System is our biggest area of concern. David Lammy in his review intimated at a lack of leadership on this issue and laid a great emphasis on the context of a more than decade long improvement in outcomes for white youngsters in terms of the numbers of first time entrants and those coming into custody with the vivid contrast to the outcomes for BAME youngsters. Our experience of highlighting this issue primarily with the Youth Justice Board (YJB) for the past seven years would lead us to concur with Lammy’s analysis. The response in our view has been frustratingly inadequate and has lacked a clear plan to reduce the number of BAME young people entering the youth justice system.

However rightly concerned Lammy was on the need to address this challenge as it provides a potential indicator to future increases and more entrenched ethnic disproportionality across the system, his terms of references focused on the system at the point of charge, and lacked the scope to get to the root causes. There needs to be a much greater focus on custody and youth-offending services and we hope the YJB will rise to this challenge but the pathways into the youth justice system must also be part of the scope of any strategy to address ethnic disproportionality in the system.

What is going on for BAME children within our schools particularly around school exclusions, amongst children cared for by the state, Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services and of course policing must be part of any over arching comprehensive strategy. This will necessitate bringing into scope a number of government departments and local agencies.

The opportunity offered by the Government’s race disparity audit to coordinate efforts across government to address a challenge of multi faceted disadvantage is in our opinion one the government should grasp. BTEG with the Young Review will be raising this with David Liddington MP in his new role as Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Overall we welcome the Government’s response which should create the kind of framework for addressing ethnic disproportionality within the justice system in the long term that the Young Review called for in 2014. This will not be an overnight fix but should help to ensure that ethnic disproportionality and improving outcomes for BAME communities is a priority in how our justice system operates and develops.  

Some myths young people have about volunteering……

Jan 31, 2018
……and how to dispel them

There is a need to promote volunteering to young people. Despite the benefits they are often unwilling to volunteer.

Some of the reasons for their reluctance, and how you can counter them, are:

  • They are reluctant to work for free If money is their goal point out the long-term affect volunteering might have on their earning potential. It could help them get a place at college or university and may help them into a higher paid job in the long run.

  • They see it as ‘slave labour’ Many young people believe that volunteers do mundane tasks that no one else in an organisation wants to do. This is not the case. There are many volunteer roles available and young people can choose what kind of work they want to do, depending on their interests. Although they cannot pay them, organisations value their volunteers greatly. Volunteers increase the organisation’s capacity, allowing it to do work that otherwise would not be done.

  • They think they are not old enough In principle anyone can volunteer as long as they are able to do the task required. In reality, it is harder for under-16s to find opportunities because of the capacity, policies and insurance of the individual organisations using volunteers. However, under-16s should not be put off and should seek support and advice from appropriate sources.

  • They don’t have time There is often a misunderstanding about how much time volunteering takes up. Some people think it’s a great deal of time but actually volunteering opportunities can be as little as a couple of hours a month.

  • It’s just ‘not cool’ Volunteering has an image problem. Many young people think people like them just don’t do, it’s just for the elderly or unemployed for example. This is untrue. Thousands of young people across the country volunteer successfully in interesting and meaningful positions.

  • They cannot afford travel expenses etc. Volunteers should not be out of pocket by their volunteering and most organisations will reimburse travel costs.

  • They are concerned about police checks People working with vulnerable groups will need to be checked under the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme, whatever their age. This is the organisation’s responsibility and there is no cost involved to the individual. For young people with a criminal record, a record check can be daunting, though many offences don’t prohibit a person from volunteering. Each case is different and whether or not a young person will be accepted for a role will depend on the offense itself and the individual policy of the organisation. Volunteers must also be prepared to wait several weeks for their record check. This requires them to plan ahead.

  • They ‘can’t be bothered’ Volunteering is a choice not a punishment. People should not be forced to volunteer but point out the advantages to them.

For more information, contact Tebussum Rashid Tebussum@bteg.co.uk

You are the message: creating a personal brand

Aug 07, 2017

Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room  Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon

When you apply for a job or work placement you are probably amongst dozens who are doing the same thing. If you get invited for an interview you are amongst the lucky few who got shortlisted. You and the other people who are getting interviewed are all probably around the same educational level, probably have similar experience and probably have similar skills. To get the position, you need to stand out from the crowd; but how? The answer is personal branding.

You may think “Why do I need a personal brand?”  Here’s the thing, you already have one. As Jeff Bezos suggests in the quote above, whether you like it or not, you are always, consciously or unconsciously, creating a persona for yourself that is responsible for your reputation, the label people put on you and how they perceive you. This is especially true in the social media age when anyone in the world can get to form an opinion about you from your posts.

So, instead of putting up with the brand that you have accidentally created, why not manage the image you are conveying so it works to your advantage.

This doesn’t mean being a phony. Personal branding is not about imitating someone else or about bragging and boasting. What it is about is consciously defining your brand by highlighting your best qualities and making sure people are aware of them. Your brand is what you want people to see and what you think they should know about you.

To help people get a better understanding of you and to fill in the perception gap that they might have you need to create a narrative about yourself that shows how you are unique and what differentiates you from other people.  This requires self-awareness on your part to understand how your experience, skills and personal attributes would benefit a potential employer.

Again, this is not about creating an artificial, contrived version of yourself. It’s going through your skills, history, experience and other attributes and creating a narrative that shows the best of you.  You can also ask friends and family to provide feedback on how you come across and what you do that works or doesn’t work.

This self-analysis and feedback from others can help you understand:

  • How you come across to strangers
  • How to introduce yourself to others
  • How to dress for success

Having done all this work on your personal brand you are at an advantage when it comes to being interviewed for a job or a work placement. You’ve already defined your skill set, your strengths and your work ethic. You now need to present yourself in the best way to highlight these and to create the impression you want the interviewer to remember. Some of the ways you can do this are:

  • Have a positioning statement about yourself; a short summary of your experience and skills that clearly demonstrates what  you can offer
  • Keep your answers to questions focussed, relevant and short. Don’t ramble
  • When asked a general question always bring yourself into the answer, ie answer the general point and then introduce an example from your experience that underlines that point.

Remember, how you dress, what you put on social media, how you interact with people and what you say about yourself is all telling a story about you.

Make sure it’s the story you want people to know. 

The Mayor’s Knife Crime Strategy – Reversing the Upward Trend?

Jul 10, 2017

 

`We must not accept that crime and violence is a foregone conclusion for any young person in London regardless of their circumstances’

`We must not submit to a counsel of despair that some of our most troubled young people are beyond help. We will not give up on them.’

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Sadiq Khan speaks for many Londoners in the foreword to his knife crime strategy. His passion and determination are undoubtedly genuine and it’s difficult to imagine many other politicians making such statements with such authenticity and resolution.

Knife crime in London is on the up, as the strategy details, but more worryingly it feels increasingly embedded within the city’s way of life. There is a routine nature to the headlines, an exasperated acceptance every time news breaks of another incident or fatality. It’s uplifting to see political leadership from the Mayor but does he have the right approach and will his plan deliver?

There is a lot to welcome in the strategy, with its emphasis on improving coordination across agencies, involving communities, listening to young people and supporting neighbourhood policing where, hopefully, the focus is as much on building relationships and trust as it is on making arrests. Unfortunately, there are some very real problems with the strategy and we would like to highlight a few of them.

Undoubtedly the police have a key role to play in the enforcement of the law. However, it’s clear that enforcement on its own cannot address knife crime. After reading the strategy we are left with a sense that we are still enforcement-led in our approach and mind-set. The strategy’s support of stop and search as an effective technique to address knife crime is expected but none the less disappointing.

The Criminal Justice Alliance has just launched No Respect - a briefing on the experience of young BAME people and stop and search. It’s a powerful document highlighting the very real damage police stop and search has on the lives of young BAME people. The document presents the voices of young people and their experiences and alludes to the failure of our institutions to learn from the lessons of the past.

There is also the issue of what is happening in our schools with regards to exclusions. We know from research and data that school exclusion is a clear predictor to criminality. There is an over representation of BAME, and particularly black boys, in these figures. Yet the strategy has no mention of the role schools play in exclusion and the kind of approaches that can prevent it.

Involving and listening to young people has a prominent position within the strategy and that is to be commended. However, we have to push the boundaries further in this area. There is a role here for people who have been through the justice system to mentor and challenge communities and to show change is possible. We need to engage young people who have been both victims and perpetrators. This will undoubtedly be demanding and difficult and we need challenging academic research to inform our thinking on the drivers behind the violence and what can be done differently to prevent it. Learning from the perpetrators must be part of this process.   

The strategy highlights the over-representation of young BAME people and specifically black males in the figures for victims and perpetrators of knife crime. At BTEG we had hoped it would then go into further exploration of this, linking it with the over representation of young BAME people in the youth and adult justice systems and possibly the pros and cons of specific targeted interventions for this group. It should have at the very least posed the question for CJS agencies and their partners as to how they are performing in relation to these groups?

Why does this matter?

Ethnic disproportionality in our CJS is a contributing factor that embeds knife crime amongst a minority of young people. We need responses that can facilitate change earlier, empowers communities and crucially builds the concept of legitimacy amongst communities whose trust of institutions, and in particular the justice system, has been a long standing issue in police/community relations in our city. The Mayor’s commitment to raise trust in the police amongst Londoners is welcomed but there must be a focused effort from the police to address the very low levels of trust amongst London’s BAME communities particularly its young people.

We welcome the Mayor’s leadership on an issue where for too long there hasn’t been enough visible leadership. Certainly the launch of the Lammy Review in September provides an opportunity to address some of the specific concerns we raise in relation to young BAME people particularly around the youth justice system.

BTEG will of course keep engaging with the Mayor and support the strategy in whatever way we can. 

Tackling hate crime and building stronger communities in the East Midlands

May 09, 2017

Guest blog by Shamsher Chohan, Director, Communities Inc

Communities Inc was established in 2011 as a dynamic social enterprise to bring innovation and creativity to address the needs of communities, organisations and businesses. Our social purpose is to build stronger communities by tackling the inequalities faced by the most disadvantaged groups in society.

Funded by the Big Lottery Fund Reaching Communities programme for three years, Building Stronger Communities builds on several smaller pilot projects that trailed different approaches and worked with specific communities to raise awareness and improve access to hate crime reporting. The intended outcomes of the project are:

1.To build relationships and improve interactions between diverse communities through increased participation and engagement in community initiatives

2.To build the capacity of community groups to respond to victims of hate crime and develop cohesion activities

3.To improve the knowledge and confidence of victims of hate crime in hate crime reporting and accessing support services

These are being delivered through a series of activities which include exchange visits and community dialogues which bring together different people to promote increased understanding or to tackle common problems.

.Our project is responsive to local issues and needs. Consequently during the first year a significant part of our work was centred around the aftermath of the EU referendum result, which saw an increase in hostility and hate crime, not just in Nottingham, but also nationally. Our local community research showed that in the most diverse area of Nottingham (Hyson Green), 67% of people we talked to felt ‘less safe’ than before the result. This led us to develop initiatives to raise the awareness around hate crime in the wider community, with a focus on public transport. Our partnership with Nottingham Trams Ltd made our hate crime awareness leaflets available on all 37 trams across the city,  which have an annual ridership of over 11 million. We are also in the process of training over 20 trainers at Nottingham City Transport, who will cascade our hate crime awareness information to over 800 staff working on the buses across the city.

Furthermore, our Love not Hate event was an opportunity to bring together public and voluntary/community sector stakeholders to discuss Brexit, hate crime and cohesion, as we approached the invocation of article 50.

Attended by over 120 delegates, the event provided a valuable space for people to share their thoughts, experiences and suggestions for future action, which are likely to dominate our second and third years activities.

Community dialogues are a central part of the Building Communities Project and have become a vehicle for new social change initiatives, where support or provision is weak for minority communities. For example, our Over 50’s LGBT+ dialogue identified loneliness as a major issue preventing people feeling like they belong in the community. Following this, a larger event has looked at this in more detail and a new group is emerging to tackle the issues raised and address the concerns people have.

Going forward we are looking at more initiatives aimed at addressing negative stereotypes that are fuelling hostility  and creating divisions in communities. We are also keen to look at how bystanders can be empowered to take action and support victims of hate and hostility.

Communities Inc has fast become the leading provider of community cohesion and hate crime awareness work in the East Midlands receiving the award for Upstanding Organisation in the first National Hate Crime Awards in 2016.   For more information please contact me on shamsher@communitiesinc.org.uk or visit our website on www.communitesinc.org.uk   

Jobs for black male graduates: it’s not adding up

Mar 30, 2017

                                    

Last week BBC London News reported that London’s black male graduates are less likely to get jobs.

The BBC contacted 50 of London’s 500 leading graduate employers to find out how many young black males they hired last year. Only 11 provided the information, which showed that of 1,803 graduates recruited in 2016, 30 were black males. Shockingly, of the 112 graduates taken on by the NHS in 2016 none were black men.

BTEG has been looking at the numbers and they just don’t add up……

  • 30 black males out of 1,803 recruits is less than 2%. We know from the 2011 Census that around 7% of young people (age 20 to 24) in London are black males. If 7% of the graduate recruits reported to the BBC were black males that would be nearer to 130 - that’s a lot more than 30.

  • Of course we don’t know how many recent graduates in London are black males and we don’t know how many black males applied for the 1,803 jobs that were reported to the BBC. We do know that fewer black males have a degree-level qualification compared with young men from other ethnic groups; in London, a young black man is only half as likely to have a degree as a young Asian man.

  • We also know (from the Annual Population Survey) that the unemployment rate in London for black male graduates is twice as high as the rate for white male graduates. And we know that in 2016, in London, more than 2,000 young black men with a degree were unemployed and looking for a job.

What the numbers do add up to is a playing field for young black male graduates that is far from even. There is no shortage of qualified young black men in London looking for career opportunities, but there is an apparent shortage of companies running graduate schemes that are successfully recruiting young black men. More companies need to make sure that their own equalities policies and recruitment practices are adding up to fair opportunities for young black men.

Moving on Up

Moving on Up aims to increase employment opportunities for young black men in London. The programme is for all young black men in London who want to find work and for all employers in London who want to recruit from this pool of talented young people.

To find out more about Moving on Up please visit http://www.bteg.co.uk/movingonup/campaign

Moving on Up is holding an event on Monday 10 April 2017, at EY in More London, to explore what construction and development companies can do to create more employment opportunities for young black men in London. Any young black men, with or without qualifications, are welcome to attend. Any employers, particularly from the construction and development sectors are welcome to attend.

For more information and to book a place at this event please go to:  http://bit.ly/2mINVjL  

Contact:                 Jeremy Crook OBE, Chief Executive
                              Tel: 020 7832 5810
                                      E-mail: Jeremy@bteg.co.uk

 

Why volunteering is important young BAME people

Mar 15, 2017

I recently graduated from university, where I have gained valuable knowledge but, unfortunately, not the practical experience and skills relevant to my chosen career path which is supporting people into employment. 
To overcome this gap, I am currently volunteering at BTEG, which not only builds up my self-confidence, networking skills and exposure to the working environment but also directly links me to opportunities in line with my career aspirations. It will also boost my CV and increase my chances to get paid employment not only because of the practical experience gained, but also because employers are impressed by people using their initiative. The placement also works nicely alongside my current job in retail.
I believe work placements and volunteering are important. The opportunity to gain relevant skills and experience is invaluable. My previous work placements helped me to develop my experience and key skills such as customer assistance, communication and exposure to the retail environment. This was a key factor in my success in securing paid work. 
In summary I believe the advantages of volunteering are:
  • Boosting of self-confidence and self esteem.

  • Developing transferable skills

  • Learning new skills. 

  • Meeting new people and keeping them as contacts for the future. 

  • Making a positive impact in the community. 

  • Taking part in challenging projects/roles.

  • Enhancing your CV.

I would encourage any young person finding it hard to get a job to contact BTEG's Tebussum Rashid -Tebussum@bteg.co.uk - who manages the Work Placements 4 Me project, which will help you to find a work placement in the area that you want to work.  

BAME young people spend longer in education than young white people but have fewer employment rewards

Feb 08, 2017

 

On the 7th of December I attended BTEG’s third and final ‘Inspire and Challenge’ lecture marking the charity’s 25th anniversary. The lecture, at SOAS University of London, highlighted the difficulties experienced by young BAME people in the education system and employment compared with the far fewer barriers that young white people face.

Jeremy Crook OBE, BTEG’s Chief Executive opened with an eye-opening presentation of the current statistics regarding young BAME people’s lack of notable success in higher education and employment compared to white people. Some of the statistics highlighted included:

  • Only 10% of apprentices in England are from BAME backgrounds but 25% of applications are from BAME people 
  • Black graduates are around twice as likely as white graduates to be unemployed (8% compared with 4%)
  • Fewer BAME graduates are in full time professional jobs than white graduates (45% compared with 51%)
  • BME employment rate is 62.7% compared to white employment rate 75.4%

Guest speakers Femi Bola MBE, of the University of East London and Dr Sham Qayyum, of SOAS, detailed the ways in which educational institutions can equip ethnic minorities to succeed in the local and global workforce, as well as the effects of recent political events such as Brexit and the rise of right wing populism.

BAME people have always had a conscious awareness of our limited successes in higher education and employment and our underrepresentation in various sectors has always been apparent. Yet, as a young South Asian person, the substantial data – collected over several years – that irrefutably backs up that awareness is still incredibly disheartening. It is no wonder that BAME people leave college and university with a negative outlook of our chances of success in the job market, and the stereotypes that have inhibited us throughout our academic lives also do so in employment.

As young white people already have the statistical advantage of gaining professional positions right out of university it is all the more necessary for young BAME people take the initiative and responsibility to be aware of all potential opportunities available to us in the job market. Enhancing practical skills and a willingness to pursue entrepreneurial career paths is important, but it is also essential that we encourage strong self-belief and resilience both personally and within our communities.

To be clear, the onus of being responsible for our success is not entirely on us. As Femi Bola reiterated, schools and colleges have a responsibility to better prepare BAME students going into university for the challenges they will face. We are not walking the same paths as our parents, many of whom have had their own preferred visions of what their children should do with their lives. Schools and colleges need to work with BAME parents to help them to encourage their children to pursue their own ambitions and not fall into a spiral of regret by the end of their academic career.

Racism, and the unwillingness to increase awareness of racial discrimination on part of educational institutions, must be called out. Schools, colleges and universities have an obligation to scrutinise their own institutions to ensure young BAME people’s academic success is not hampered due to racism among staff and the student body, as well as take the initiative to give BAME students the tools and awareness to tackle discrimination in education, as well as the job market.

BTEG on secondment at the Big Lottery Fund

Nov 15, 2016

I have just completed, on behalf of BTEG, a 21 day secondment at the Big Lottery Fund. I spent time in Birmingham, London and Newcastle with staff from the Fund.

21 days doesn’t sound like much time but it was over a six month period, with a specific focus.

Earlier in the year, the Fund offered the opportunity for a Skills Swap. It enabled staff at the Fund to spend time with Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) organisations to find out more about how they operate.

The Fund was undertaking a range of equalities work across the organisation so, in addition, the Fund invited a BAMER organisation to consider working with them, providing a ‘critical friend’ view of how they make decisions around awarding grants on their Awards for All and Reaching Communities programme and to give an external perspective on grants that BAMER-led organisations typically apply for and to offer recommendations on whether improvements could be made.

The secondment would be an opportunity for the Fund to be challenged on its assumptions and processes to see where it could be more inclusive in awarding its grants.  

The secondment was offered via the BAMER Cross Funder Alliance Group. BTEG decided to apply as we were interested in supporting the Fund to be as inclusive as they could be, and to increase the number of high quality applications and the number of grants being awarded to BAMER-led organisations.

Has BTEG’s input made a difference?

BTEG shared its thoughts on how the Fund can extend its reach to engage and have open and transparent conversations with BAMER-led groups.  We offered recommendations around capturing, recording and using local intelligence – with a view to improving success rates for BAMER-led organisations. Also, we provided the Fund with a viewpoint on the challenges faced by BAMER-led organisations as they try to navigate their way through the funding application process.

Staff at the Fund were left with lots of ideas to consider to take forward their equalities work and further support BAMER-led organisations. The secondment, and our own experiences of applying for funding, also means we can feed back through our networks how organisations can better position themselves to apply for funding and strengthen their applications.

Could this be replicated by other Funders?

This approach could definitely be replicated by other funders. BTEG will be reporting back to the Cross Funder Alliance about the secondment and how this could happen.

Both BTEG and the Big Lottery Fund found this experience beneficial for them and useful to organisations more widely. Having an organisation with a race equality background can provide the perspective a funder needs to honestly critique how inclusive it is when awarding grants.

Any such secondment would need to be entered into with a true spirit of collaboration, with both organisations being clear on what they hope to get out it.

Other things to consider would be:

  • Ensuring the right fit between organisation and secondee – an informal face to face chat is essential

  • Being very specific about what the remit is/what the secondee should focus on…

  • …whilst being flexible about how this is undertaken

  • Identifying from the start what are the expected outputs and outcomes

  • Arranging for the secondee to be part of the host organisation’s induction and making them truly feel as though they are a part of the organisation

  • Having a named person, at a senior level in the organisation, to champion the work and open doors if need be

  • Having a person in the organisation to organise logistics (meetings, travel, booking rooms, sorting expenses etc.)

For more information, contact Indra Pooran indra@bteg.co.uk

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