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How Connectivity has helped me

Nov 12, 2019
This is a guest blog from a participant on the BAME Connectivity Programme
 
We all like to make New Year’s resolutions, right?
 

Mine for 2019: Enhance leadership skills and effectiveness in my organisation.

At first glance, this commitment to self is no show stopper and has the sound of: “Really? Really? Is that what you are going to concentrate your efforts on this whole year? You don’t need a new gym membership? Pay rise? How about going vegan, or trading your car for an electric model as an environmentally friendly pledge to the planet?”

Well, six months before, I had promised myself, as well as the Director of my charity, that this academic year would be my final one as a full-time secondary school teacher. I was ready to take on the challenge of growing our charity - Centre of Change: Counselling, Mentoring and Tutoring Service - to a place where it became financially robust and self-sustaining: building capacity, as the jargon would have it.

When I took on this challenge in the summer of 2018, I soon recognised that Collaboration was the buzzword bouncing around among service providers, local government and others in the community network. In many meetings and conferences I attended in those months, ‘collaboration’ was dutifully chanted by those in the know.

Up to this point, collaboration had not been a strong point of our charity. On two occasions in our 11-year existence, we had tried collaboration. We had tried to join forces to work with others and the result was ideas were snapped up by larger, better-established organisations and touted as their own, whilst we had to sit by, unable to do anything about it. From then on, our motto was: ‘Twice bitten, forever shy’. So, when I joined the BTEG introductory meeting, led by Simone Williams, in January to find out what ‘Connectivity’ could mean for my charity, it is a real understatement to say that I was extremely wary.

Fortunately, I went into the programme with an open, though somewhat cautious, mind. Early on I understood that collaboration could be successful, if managed well. There was the recognition that some people in life would lack integrity and therefore naivety could be disastrous, so a degree of shrewdness was needed. Simone’s facilitation of discussions around responsibilities and boundaries were particularly resonant with me during this stage.

Delegates all had something in common: a desire to enhance the lived experience and life chances of disadvantaged or marginalised people. It soon became clear that holding a common interest or goal is enough to find ground to form partnerships. But it is imperative to know and understand each individual’s contribution to the project and how each part would fit together. Communication was another component that needed to be water-tight if projects were to float. Trust was essential and something that has to grow and develop over time within the agreement of a piece of work. I didn’t actually form a collaboration within this forum but the principles were clear.

In practice, over the past ten months the concept of connectivity has helped me, in my capacity of Assistant Director of my charity, to build and work within a number of collaborative relationships. A few months ago, four educators (including myself), representing four organisations were able to come together with our respective experience and skills and put on an educational event for parents and carers of BAME children. It helped them better understand the education system and provided insight into how to help their young people navigate the system successfully. It was well attended by parents, interested individuals and organisations, and educators.

On a side note, in the week of actually putting this blog post together, a very attractive prospect has arisen off the back of the education collaborative event. It requires four education specialists to be trained to deliver in-school training. The opportunity was immediately attractive to all four parties involved in the previous piece of work. Although we each have our distinct organisations, we have seen the success of working together, the power of pooling our resources and how we complement and support each other, and realised that the whole is actually greater than each of us as individual parts.

Connectivity has not only given me the confidence to work with others who are in similar and complementary organisations but also the knowledge and capabilities of defining, agreeing and understanding roles and boundaries within these relationships. The concept allows for a high level of accountability which in itself helps to drive productivity and thus success.

I am currently planning a large community event; I have never attempted to lead anything anywhere near this scale before. The concept of connectivity has been fundamental in helping me to develop this project, as it has allowed me to approach and engage other organisations in an open and honest way whilst still maintaining ownership of this piece of work. Our Christmas event will be a whole community affair, involving commitments from at least three groups other than Centre of Change. It brings us into collaboration with local government, a faith group, a small but extremely influential community group, as well as a range of groups and individuals with lesser involvement. This collaboration has generated ideas and resources beyond what I could imagine when I first put the idea forward to my board of trustees.

We’ve almost come full circle from that resolution made last December and committed to in January with the start of the BTEG Connectivity Programme. It’s fitting, I think, that the year should culminate with a display of what collaboration can look like in real terms.

I know the event will not be perfect. I know I will take away a handful of ‘even better ifs’. But, more to the point, I know it will be fun, well-attended and a great success.

Diane Rouillon
 

Strengthening voices in the BAME community

Nov 04, 2019

My earlier blog post on ‘collective impact’ highlighted that having a shared vision was a vital component in making a real and meaningful positive difference to complex societal issues.

To create that vision a strengthened and aligned shared voice has to be developed and shaped.

What is a strengthened voice? Imagine a choir.A soloist’s voice can sound lovely and strong, reaching all notes. But what happens when that voice is joined by the others? The sound can still be lovely; it is most definitely more powerful and can carry a note for even longer and reach even higher. This does not take away from the soloist’s ability, skills or passion, but it adds layers - the different voices creating harmony and giving a differing perspective to the same words.

Now think of community groups. Each project may be attempting to solve similar problems and be facing the same barriers within their community and in the relationships with those that support their sustainability and impact. However, most of the time they work and speak individually; sending the same message in a slightly different way or lots of messages at once with no clear focus on any specific priority.

Now imagine these community groups as a “choir”, discussing the issues that they share and creating a clearer, stronger joint voice that could have a more powerful impact on social change. Strengthening the voice of your community will allow for issues to be identified, challenged and overcome in a clear and action focused way

This joint voice can be developed by:

  • Creating conversations, through regular roundtables, forums, webinars.
  • Regular collective blog posts or letters - where one idea is highlighted and co-signed by the group
  • Posting an article in the local paper about the great work that has come from collaboration in tackling issues or overcoming barriers but also sharing moments of success for the communities served

Over the next few weeks Connectivity partners will be guest blogging their journey to strengthened voice and collaboration through their participation in the programme for Year 1, as well as providing useful tips and tools to assist you in strengthening your community leadership voice.

Find out more about the Connectivity Programme or email Simone Williams, Simone@bteg.co.uk

Better to walk than dance with the Metropolitan Police at Carnival

Oct 09, 2019
What did I see in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) at this year’s carnival?

When the MPS asked me if I’d like to be an ‘observer’ at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival, I pondered about giving up one or two of my Bank Holiday weekend days but decided to as it’s not often a member of the public gets the opportunity to see first-hand the policing operation for the largest carnival in Europe.

I was asked to get involved because I am a member of the MPS STRIDE Board which focuses on diversity, inclusion and equality within the organisation and its service delivery. This is not a paid role - it’s a commitment BTEG makes to be a critical friend for the MPS.

The MPS have a range of challenges, not least tackling gun and knife use, gangs, organised crime and illegal drugs. The MPS workforce is still not reflective of London’s ethnic diversity with just over 14% of police officers in London from BAME backgrounds, well short of the BAME population which is now 43%. BAME applications to the MPS are increasing along with success rates.

I opted to observe family day - Sunday. I hadn’t attended Carnival for over 20 years. I had good memories but recalled being caught up by crowd bottlenecks on several occasions which were uncomfortable. My first (mini) shock was being told the day would start with a briefing at 8 am at police HQ. That meant a 6 am wake-up call.  

What I heard and saw at the briefing is what I expected - a professional and organised police force. Commander Musker, the officer responsible for policing the event, reminded his senior officers about the need to protect officers and keep the public safe. I saw the impressive use of CCTV technology, the resources the Met has and how they work with other emergency services and stakeholders. The Commander shared how much work goes into making sure the Carnival’s known risks are mitigated before as well as during the event.

A handful of senior officers spoke at the briefing and it was good to see one of these was black. I got the sense it was a matter of professional and personal pride for these senior officers to execute the policing operation with minimum public disturbance or serious injuries. This was reassuring for me.

It was the first time I’d been in the company of a large number of MPS officers. From a race equality perspective, there were around 150 or more officers in the briefing room and only a handful were visibly from black and Asian backgrounds. I assumed these were senior ranks. During the day, I was introduced to several senior women in the MPS and that was positive to see. 

I asked Commander Musker about the use of section 60 orders which allows the police to stop and search people in a defined area without having suspicion. He indicated that Section 60 is one of the tools he has at his discretion and is used if necessary. As it turned out section 60 was used on the second day as the number of incidents increased.

After attending the morning briefing I was assigned to two police officers from west London and was told I could go anywhere I wanted. The two officers, both white, made me feel welcome. One of the officers had been in the force for some time and the other for a much shorter time. We spent nearly three hours walking around the Carnival. I wanted to see the knife/gun arches in operation and, more generally, I simply wanted to see how the officers assigned to me interacted with the public and vice versa. The two officers escorting me around were approached by many members of the public asking for directions and toilet locations.  

It was a very hot day. I wore a t-shirt and jeans, the officers had full uniform and equipment which made walking around challenging. Officers had been reminded to keep hydrated (and not to join in the dancing!). Having not attended Carnival for a long time I was struck by the number of residential units and businesses that were boarded up.

There were large numbers of police from different strands of the force waiting to be called if needed, including the tactical support units dressed in black and with what appeared to be riot protection gear. I asked a community leader colleague, who also attended on Monday with his teenage daughter, how he felt about the policing of the Carnival. He said that there were a lot of police on the streets and made a particular point about feeling intimated by the tactical support units marching through the Carnival in rows of two or three. Having seen these units in the cordoned off streets and in the main police base on the Sunday I understood why they would appear intimidating moving through Carnival crowds. The MPS should look at the way these units are deployed during Carnival if there isn’t a major incident about to happen.

I had chosen perhaps the least challenging phase of Carnival in terms of policing intensity. My teenage daughter and her friends attended Carnival on the Monday - I have to be honest, I was anxious about that because of the tragic spate of knife crime murders in the capital. But one has to be rational and young people have to experience Carnival for themselves. There are serious incidents every year at Carnival where the public and police are injured by a tiny proportion of people. Every assault is one too many but crime isn’t put on hold for two days in London because of Carnival.

Carnival is a fantastic spectacle delivered by London’s Caribbean community and our public bodies - I am proud about that. It was great to see the vibrant costumes and the roadside caterers and people from all age groups and ethnicities having a wonderful time.

An apprentice answers questions about his work

Oct 02, 2019

Prince Amponsah is a Commercial Management Trainee at The Wates Group, one of the largest privately-owned construction, development and property services companies in the UK. He went to school in Hackney and studied Maths, Economics and Physics at A-Level.

Here he answers questions about his work.

What path did you take to get to your current position?

I studied A-Levels at Sixth Form and applied to the Quantity Surveying Site Management apprenticeship programme whilst studying.

How many jobs have you had, and can you name them?

I haven’t had any official jobs, so this is my first one! I’ve done work experience with the Civil Service and Octopus Investments.

What school subjects link to your career?

All of them!

A typical day in your current role looks like:

Checking survey drawings, organising instructions and writing instructions

What skills do you use daily that you learnt at school?

One of the skills that I use daily is problem solving. In all the subjects that I did at school, there was always an element of problem solving- whether it was to find an answer to an equation or to find solutions to case studies regarding economics. I also learnt how to evaluate my work to make sure that the work I produce is improving. By using the problem-solving skills, I developed in school, I can use that daily by constantly evaluating my work to make sure that it is of the best standard and making sure my colleagues understand the work I’ve presented to them. I use my problem-solving skills by finding solutions to the mistakes that I may make in my work and by finding better ways to organise the instructions I deal with and the survey drawings I inspect.

What is the number #1 piece of advice you’ve been given that helped you with your career choice?

The best advice that I have received is to remain humble; by remaining humble, I am able to learn about what each person in my team does and how they fulfil their roles in Wates. In addition, it has also helped me to learn about the different thing I am expected to do at my time with Wates, which has allowed me to develop quickly in a short period of time.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Five years from now, I expect to have a deeper understanding in the dynamic construction industry and to be a quantity surveyor that is knowledgeable and experienced in different roles.

If you could have done anything differently on your career journey, what would it be?

Nothing!

Why do you love you job?

I love my job as there are always new opportunities to learn new skills and to become knowledgeable in different fields. This means that no day is the same and I can always expect to do something new and exciting.

One of my favourite black historical influencers is Kwame Nkrumah. This is because he realised the importance of education, which influenced him to make education free and compulsory in Ghana. This meant that children didn’t have to work from a very young age and they had a chance to secure jobs in the future, which is part of the reason why Ghana’s GDP has grown over the years.

When They See Us

Sep 20, 2019
BTEG’s Reflections of the British Experience
When they see us

When they see us

Introduction 

When They See Us is a hard watch for many. The series documents the investigation and wrongful conviction of the Exonerated Five: Korey Wise, Antron McCray, Yosef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana - black and Hispanic boys who were convicted for the rape of a white woman in Central Park.

The notorious Central Park jogger case occurred in 1989 where Trisha Ellen Meili was brutally raped, beaten and left for dead. Five teenage boys of black and Hispanic origin were also in Central Park at the time and were arrested. Eventually each of the Five was coerced into giving false testimony without parental supervision, despite there being no DNA evidence linking them to the crime scene. The teens aged between 14-15 were convicted in 1990 and served sentences ranging from 5-15 years. All but one of the teens served as juveniles whereas Korey Wise was tried and served as an adult. The Five were eventually released due to new DNA evidence and a confession from the actual culprit. The Five later successfully sued the city of New York twice and won both times, settling for $41 million and $3.9 million.

‘When They See Us’ is a stunningly crafted hard hitting depiction of the bogus case from the perspective of the families and the children, as well as the aftermath.

The team at Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) found the series so powerful that we have written a collective review and why the story of the Five reinvigorates our efforts to eradicate racial inequalities.

Black and white photo of black man and two cops

Rabia

‘When They See Us’ is real and powerful, we must take seriously the impact of race in the criminal justice system. Let this story be an opportunity for awareness and action on holding our system to account because we are not above being unjust to BAME children in the UK. 

Revisiting the case from the perspective of the Five reminded me why the work EQUAL performs is vital. EQUAL is a national initiative supported by an independent advisory group and BTEG, which is dedicated to tackling racial inequalities within the criminal justice system. We specifically focus on BAME and Muslim communities who are disproportionately over represented in the justice system.

My family and friends rightly felt dismay at the miscarriage of justice the Five repeatedly experienced, costing them their youth and innocence.

We may not have many cases that mirror what happened to the Five, however, the disproportionality of young black males in the justice system is worse in the UK than in the States. Black people make up 3% of our population but 12% of our prison population which is worse than the US. Black children are four times more likely to be arrested than white children and worse still, BAME youth are now 53% of our youth justice system. Evidently institutional reform is necessary in the UK as it is in the US.

 

Brianna

These boys lost their childhood, aspirations, education and dignity. BTEG’s Routes2Success (R2S) Ethnic Minority Role Model Programme aims to inspire young people to raise their aspirations, make positive choices and value education as we are aware that the institutional racism in schools, further education, and employment can be a barrier to young black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) people achieving their dreams. We want to show young BAME people that regardless of their background, race, religion, or gender that they can achieve whatever they set out to.

Upon release, four of the five men were excluded from society despite doing their time (for a crime that they didn’t commit). This resonated with me as we have worked with so many young black males in prisons through the R2S Programme who see no light at the end of the tunnel and furthermore, no second chances. We give them hope by allowing them to hear from our role models who have themselves been through the criminal justice system but are now successful in multiple aspects of their life. We want to show young BAME people that there will be obstacles and challenges in their lives but using examples like Korey Wise (who is resilient and strong minded) they too can have a bright future. In my eyes the Five are true role models and our young people can learn a lot from them: their determination, resilience and pride got them where they are today in a world that seemed stacked against them. Despite this, they waited patiently for the truth to set them free.

The real people

Simone

This case was an injustice that sent a ripple effect through America due to the collective narrative from the media that even spurred Donald Trump to take an advert out to bring back the death penalty during the time of the trial in 1990. A collective voice that led to the wrongful conviction of five boys and shattering any hopes and dreams they had as teenagers.

The theme of connection was very evident through watching When They See Us, it highlighted how a collective voice is so much stronger than a single one. Ava DuVernay gave the men a collective voice and helped them to tell their individual story about an experience they shared together. In that moment the Five not only became an identifier of the men that were wrongly convicted but it became a statement of justice, race inequality, resilience, survival and change. 

A collective voice strengthens the ability to create lasting change. Imagine what changes are possible when passionate, capable and determined voices come together with a common goal and with the right tools to make positive changes in the community.  This is the vision of BTEG’s connectivity programme; designed to give a strong collective voice to BAME civil society groups. Through sharing our experience, skills and expertise we develop a connected group of leaders that work collaboratively to solve complex societal issues our communities face; whether it is in regards to justice, education, health or any other inequality. 

 

Ruby

In this ground-breaking series, Ava DuVernay successfully depicts the various ways in which the trauma of racial profiling, institutionalised racism, and racial discrimination seeps into the lives of the families and friends of the victims.

Perhaps what stood out most, at least in the first episode was the ignorance of the young boys and the families alike. The old saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ does not necessarily ring true when considering the lives of BAME communities. In fact, When They See Us demonstrates the ways in which ignorance can spell danger, deepening the hole in which one can become trapped. This is why the work that BTEG does is so important. Not only do we work diligently to educate and empower BAME young people, but since 1991 we have been and will continue to be an organisation that seeks to invoke knowledge and change from the ground up and top down.

 

Anton

Although, the adaptation of the portrayal of ‘Central Park Five’ takes place overseas in New York, injustice is not limited to the shores of the US. We know that (even after serving a prison sentence) a criminal record can be like a second sentence, curtailing employment, educational and housing opportunities, especially for young black men. Ava DuVernay powerfully portrayed the barriers Raymond faced upon completing his sentence, struggling to gain even the most basic job. 

A huge part of my job at BTEG is to engage with potential employers for the Moving Up project. The project aims to address the systematic unemployment faced by young black men. A key factor apparent in this issue is the negative representation of young black men in the media in rigid and stereotypical ways. These one dimensional and stereotypical portrayals can be pervasive in both the psyche of mainstream society and in recruitment processes. The unemployment rate for young black men is 31% compared to 12% for young white men. 

When They See Us has been a huge hit, reminding the world of the forgotten Five and the life long scars they still carry from conviction, prison, and beyond. 

Happy in court

Conclusion 

There is no doubt of the devastating aftermath the wrongful convictions have had on the Five that still traumatise every aspect of their life. The successful series has humanised the five, cutting through the onslaught of character assassination that even the current President of the US participated in during the trial in the 90’s. Their youth may have been robbed and their lives changed forever but their story is a powerful symbol of the long wait for justice. 

Five things that hold back graduate job seekers

Sep 11, 2019
What you don’t know, that you need to know

Are you one of hundreds of recent graduates in East London, applying for those high flying graduate jobs you hoped your degree would open the doors to – only to find you’re not getting to the interview stage let alone getting the job. Did you know that only 15% of graduates get a graduate role on completion of their degree?

Employers may not tell you why they are not offering you the job, so you may still feel that your approach is a good one.

STOP!

Before you continue to apply, read this. 

Here’s what you need to know, if you are trying to get your first graduate job.

1 All degrees are not equal

Some universities are highly respected and well thought of by employers and feature in the Top 20 lists of universities to attend…and some are not. Is your university one of these sought after institutions - and what you can do about it if it’s not?

2 Your CV/application – spelling, structure and content

Around 200 applications are received seconds after a job is posted. An employer/recruiter spends 5-7 seconds looking at a CV. They consider a whole range of things within those few seconds, including your personal profile, how clear the structure is and, crucially, spelling and grammar. How do you know if your CV is fit for purpose in order to get you that interview?

3 Your competition – it’s not just your fellow students

So you’ve graduated top of your class with a first class honours degree. However, your competition is not just coming from your cohort. Some of them attended one of those “Top 20” universities and they may be going for the same job as you. What can you do to ensure you get to interview stage and get that job?

4 Your family network – who you know AND who knows you.

80% of jobs are now not posted on job boards – they are only accessible through word of mouth and networking. Your network may be your family and friends – but they may not know about any jobs you can apply for. So if it’s not our Mum, Dad or your best friend – who is it and how do you connect with them?

5 Looking the part at interview

Congrats! You’ve landed an interview and everyone tells you to “dress to impress” But what does that mean? Is what you wore to your graduation ok or what you wear going out with friends? How do you know what’s appropriate and what’s not?

Find out the answers to these questions, and more, by signing up to our two-day careers programme on 30, 31 Oct. To claim your free place email Indra@bteg.co.uk 

7 steps to successful bid writing

Jun 12, 2019

Writing bids to secure funding or to deliver a piece of work  can be daunting, especially if it is your first time writing one or you have previously been unsuccessful.

Before writing your next bid or application look at the seven steps below and apply them to increase your likelihood of success.

1.  Attend any supporting events related to the bid

I cannot emphasize enough how useful it is to attend any pre-bid meetings and events designed to assist you in writing the bid. Who better to tell you what should be featured and how to increase success than the funders themselves. It can also help you decide if it‘s the right bid for you and, if so, your chances of securing any of it. Many projects fail to attend and miss the key elements that would have secured the bid or at least create a conversation that means the funders already know who you are before you apply.

2.  Do not miss anything – answer every question with as much detail as possible

A large number of bids are lost due to not breaking down the question and answering fully and with as much detail relating to the topic. We often don’t consider what exactly the funder wants to know in response to a question and how our response will help them to understand what we do. For example, if asked what were your outgoing expenses related to the project in year one, you should list each expense and not just give a total amount.

3. Keep your mission at the forefront at all times

When answering any part of a bid it is important to show your commitment to your mission as this will show the difference of, and passion within, your organisation. Highlight the unique selling points of your project/programme: how it impacts on the community it serves; what your Theory of Change is; what outcomes you plan to achieve and the steps you will take to achieve them. Take this as an opportunity to ‘brag’ about all the great work you do.

4. Are you clear about your outcomes!

Remember this is not just about the work you will do but also, and vitally, the impact your work will have. What changes and positive outcome will be seen by your users and the community? Showcase the social impact by detailing evidence from previous work, for example, through completion of an employability programme 20 service users were employed for over 12 months. Of these 20, five are now volunteers for our programme.

5. Scoping need and demonstrating the ability to deliver it!

Funders want to know that you will deliver on their investment so it is vital that you can demonstrate the need for your work within the community and the difference it will make, not only in immediate outcomes but also the impact it will have in the long term. You also need to make it clear to the decision makers that your programme fits with the aims and plans of their fund. 

6. Engage your service user

One key mistake made by many bid writers is not demonstrating how the project has included its users; have they been a part of the research; did you seek their views; are services bespoke to them and not a “one size fits all” approach? Do not be daunted if you haven’t, you might have personal experience or seen it work for another area. Recognise this as an area for growth and improvement for future applications.

7. Demonstrate strategy

Demonstrating your ability to apply strategy in the way your project runs by breaking down each action using the 6 WHs (Who, What, When, Where, Why and importantly the How). Answering these questions shows your project is well thought out and plans effectively.

You also need to highlight your ability to respond to emerging issues and how you plan in advance for how to deal with any risks or threats, for example other ways to get referrals if numbers are low through networks.

These steps can assist you in developing a strong and well-planned bid application that shows the difference your work can make and that speaks the language funders need to hear if you want them to invest in you. By starting early and ensuring you produce a well-written bid, the better chance you have.

For more information on bid writing or if you are interested in bid writing training contact the BTEG team, information available on our website.

Criminal justice contracts – opportunities for the Third Sector

Jun 12, 2019

 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) are private sector suppliers of probation and prison-based services for offenders in England and Wales. They were established in 2015 as part of the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation Programme (TR), brought in by Chris Grayling, former Justice Secretary. There seems to be a strong correlation between the introduction of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme and the rise in violent crime, especially within serious youth violence and domestic abuse that have impacted on our families and communities. It was recently announced that the contracts with CRCs would be scrapped two years early due to failures in the system and model and a renationalized service take in its place.

CRCs were, unfortunately, so strained from the beginning that they were unable to look outwards and create meaningful relationships with local and larger VSOs during their five years of controlling low-to-medium risk offenders. The lack of ability to take a hold of offender management has led to an increased risk to the public and when you factor in austerity, reduction in police numbers and rise in school exclusion rates you can see why this was an almost impossible task to achieve without engaging the third sector. 

David Gauke, the new Justice Secretary, has said that “the model we are announcing...will harness the skills of private and voluntary providers and draw on the expertise of the National Probation Service to boost rehabilitation, improve standards and ultimately increase public safety.” The Government’s response to the Strengthening Probation, Building Confidence consultation included “a clearer role for the voluntary sector and smaller providers” within their future approach, services including structured interventions and mentoring around substance misuse, as well as employability and resettlement projects.

The government wants to ensure that there is not a repeat of the promises made during TR Programme. They plan to take strategic action to collaborate with the voluntary sector in order to “develop an approach to support direct participation of smaller voluntary providers...through the procurement of a dynamic framework... [that] operates as an open panel of suppliers”.

We need to ensure that they are held account to this framework.

Many smaller, BAME organisations within the sector will be looking at opportunities to engage with criminal justice contracts to deliver in partnership with the New National Service. However, they may not be thinking about partnerships with other VSOs to strengthen the likelihood of winning contracts to do the work that will make a difference.

Supported collaboration programmes have been created as a response to the lack of funding and opportunities by various funders as they too recognised this was an issue. Simply giving training and sharing ideas is not always enough. Smaller organisations, projects and programme (especially BAME) benefit from collaborating with other organisations that share a vision for change in their communities – for example, if one project delivers courses employability readiness skills for those with offending backgrounds and another works with companies to actively recruit ex-offenders why not put in a bid together for a larger amount and share resources, especially as the same service user is likely to be work with both projects to achieve longer term success.

If you are within the BAME sector and are interested in working within the Criminal Justice provider group then I would urge you to look out for opportunities like the Connectivity Programme that brings organisations, projects and skilled individuals together in partnership.  This increases their ability to deliver work with a diverse range of skills that both complement but differ. This will allow co-production of integrated activities enabling end users to experience the benefit of culturally competent programmes and socially relevant activities. This approach not only increases positive community impact but also strengthens the skills and longevity of the sector through creating engaged and supported leaders that sustain effective, high quality programmes.

The Ministry of Justice has stated in the plans of renationalisation that the VSO sector should and will be represented in the new model. Think about what you could do, and who else you may need, to achieve the vision. This will undoubtedly increase your chances of working within the justice sector and making a difference to the over- and under-represented communities.

Find out more about the Connectivity Programme.

Mark Blake’s Farewell Blog

May 21, 2019

I am leaving BTEG after working here for nine years. It will be sad to leave somewhere that’s been a big part of my life for nearly a decade. At the same time, with the recent rebranding of the Young Review as Equal, and with a new Chair and an excellent team of colleagues, I believe I am leaving an organisation that is in a good space.

On the wider policy front David Lammy’s review has, in recent years, dominated the agenda of ethnic disproportionality across the justice system. The recent Justice Select Committee hearings on progress in delivering the recommendations of the review had an air of one step forward two steps backwards. Our work at Equal would certainly suggest this.

Of course, Lammy didn’t cover policing, although he did highlight the large body of work that has already been produced around the issue of stop and search and recommendation number five focused on the Metropolitan Police’s Gangs Matrix and the Mayor of London’s commitment to review it.

Equal participated in the process of the review that led to the MOPAC report and the Information Commissioner’s enforcement notice. We wait to see what emerges as a result of these but it has felt that the Met and MOPAC have been reluctant to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of the Matrix upon young black men, and the potential for discrimination that the ICO highlighted.

Along with this, the Met’s apparent position of  justifying ethnic disproportionality in stop and search as part of what appears to be an enforcement-orientated response to serious youth violence is, to put it diplomatically disappointing. The failure of linking ethnic disproportionality with mainstream agendas, such as serious youth violence, is not only puzzling but frankly exasperating.

In my opinion, the use of punitive measures is only likely to further entrench ethnic disproportionality and escalate violence in our communities and custodial establishments. You’d think that at some point we have to try something new but the risk-averse nature of our institutions is a major impediment in finding solutions. We need to see fundamentally new approaches emerging instead the same old responses that exasperate the problems across our failing justice system

This is my final blog for Equal. I would like to thank my colleagues, the members of the Equal Advisory Group, external partners, funders, volunteers and trustees for working with me over the past nine years. I will be rooting for Equal in its efforts to address the critical challenges around ethnic disproportionality in our criminal justice system.

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