A few weeks ago I joined the gathering of over 4,000 people of all backgrounds at the Forest Recreation Ground to express our support for the Black Lives Matter Campaign. I must say it was an emotional event for me, seeing so many young people of all backgrounds standing together in solidarity for such a just cause.
This is not the first time I have attended such a protest demonstration. I have supported many over the years and there was always hope that there will be some positive advancement made in the way UK society deals with racial injustices and discrimination due to ethnicity. And if you look back in history you will see that positive changes have been made in response to these protests.
However, there are those that will say that unfortunately when the next recession or austerity programme came along it was the people of BAME backgrounds and those living in deprived areas that become the first to suffer the consequences.
So, will there be any more positive changes this time? Well, we all hope so! I believe there is room for optimism partly because the crowds that we have seen across the globe have been far more mixed or even mainstream than in the past. In other words the Black Lives Matter cause is no longer a cause supported only by a minority. Everyone in the public eye, seem to have issued a supportive statement and whether ‘jumping on the band wagon’ or not, the campaign has made its mark and the murder of George Floyd has hopefully changed the world forever.
However, there is no room for complacency and it must start now with a fundamental change to our educational curriculum removing the subtle and erroneous portrayal of black people and black led nations as making less of a contribution towards the advancement of mankind.
So, back to Nottingham and the young people protesting at the Forest Recreation Ground. As already stated the vast majority of the crowd was made up of young people from all backgrounds no doubt many about to leave college or school looking and wondering what economic and other opportunities will be there for them. We know that if you are black in the UK, as compared to the white population you are:
• more likely to be unemployed;
• more likely to be stopped by police;
• more likely to be given a custodial sentence ;
• more likely to die from Covid-19;
• more likely to be homeless or in unsuitable accommodation.
Whilst I am a glass-half-full type of person, we cannot ignore the challenging economic times ahead. Look at all the job losses being announced by Boots and Rolls Royce and Nottingham City Council has issued letters seeking voluntary redundancies to all its staff. So, what does Tuntum do in the circumstances? Well this is what I believe, Tuntum should be insisting on doing:
• be a place of work where people feel it is safe to share with colleagues in an open and listening environment their frustrations at societies inequality.
• be a working environment that provides opportunity for young people with talent and commitment.
• provide good quality homes and services to diverse communities, as it says in our mission statement.
• be a shining example of a well-run black led business that can be a role model for new initiatives in our community. This will require a more disciplined and mission focused approach to our work, at all levels.
• develop schemes that meet the housing and cultural needs of our elderly, primarily the Windrush generation so that they can spend their last days in a safe and friendly environment.
• keep listening and take positive and dynamic action.
Sorry that it has taken me a while to send this message out to you, but as this is an extremely important cause to me, I needed some reflection and writing time to express my sentiment in a way that it would be meaningful to you all. There is a longer version of this message, which I will circulate in the form of a CEO’s blog.
We are a diverse organisation which is committed to creating a working environment free of harassment and bullying, and it is our expectation that all staff are treated with dignity and respect.
If you have been affected by recent events you can seek free and professional support via the Westfield Health 24/7 advice line on 0800 092 0987, quoting reference number 71718. This is a totally confidential service.
My your door is always open if anyone wishes to speak about it in more detail or has any suggestions.
Richard Renwick, CEO, MBE