Written by: David Reid, VCS Support Officer
Updated: 11 October 2021
In June and August, Community Southwark launched a two-part event named, “We are not Going back to Normal “, where Black and minority ethnic community organisations were invited to come together and voice their concerns about Black and minority ethnic community engagement in Southwark and what needs to be done to make things better.
For decades now the Black and minority ethnic community sector has been frustrated about how Southwark Council has gone about trying to involve them in discussions and decisions on issues that affect their community.
To put it mildly the community engagement process offered to Black and minority ethnic Communities by Southwark Council at its best has left these communities with false hope and unmet promises and at its worse left communities feeling powerless and side-lined.
Well, things could be about to change. In June and August, Community Southwark launched a two-part event named “We are not Going back to Normal “, where Black and minority ethnic community organisations were invited to come together and voice their concerns about Black and minority ethnic community engagement in Southwark and what needs to be done to make things better.
The second event saw a landmark coming together of Southwark Council Officers and leaders from the Black and minority ethnic community sector to find solutions for better Community Engagement approach and practice. In attendance was nearly 60 community organisations and council officers.
The event closed with. the Black and minority ethnic community voting on a list of 12 asks they felt would make a difference to better community engagement. The council promised that they would go away and look at how they could meet these 12 asks and report back to the Black and minority ethnic community on what action they will take to work towards meeting these asks.
We must give credit to the Southwark Council officers who attended the event for sharing some of the challenges for wanting to openly share the challenges they have faced over the years with getting community engagement right with Black and minority ethnic communities.
However, although expectations that the foundations for change are in sight, the Black and minority ethnic Community Sector should not be complacent but remain optimistic as we have had promises before that have fallen way short of being fulfilled.
Networks such as R.E.A.C.H and the Latin American Network will play an important role to lead on making sure that Southwark Council are held to account over these 12 asks. How are we going to do that? We intend to work very closely with other networks who have a vested interest in making sure that the Council’s future engagement with BME communities is of high quality and relevant. This means that we will be forming alliances when and where we can so that the voice of BME communities in Southwark are stronger together.
For details of the 12 asks, please click here.