Our commitment to anti-racism
For years, we have sought to tackle racial inequality across all areas of the council and wider systems and society in which it has influence and reach.
For the past five years, ourselves and our partners have been on a mission to tackle racial inequality. We focus on making a difference at key touchpoints, such as:
- early years (children aged 0 to 5)
- employment and health
We started to develop a system-wide approach to anti-racism. Many of the partnerships needed were already in place, including with schools, the police and health partners.
We launched our Anti-Racism Action Plan in 2021. The plan saw us begin to lead from the inside out by investigating how inclusive we are and how we tackle all forms of racism in the community.
By March 2022, we adopted a working definition of racism and anti-racism: foundational to unmasking racism where it hides or is blatant, and seeking solutions at institutional, community and individual level.
This meant that anti-racism was already reflected in how we were working with children and young people, particularly in schools.
However, the Child Q review and the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Black and Global Majority people, raised the urgency of recognising institutional racism and of working across the system to bring about change. As a result, we developed a full whole system’s anti-racism plan.
Since these events, we are redefining ourselves as an anti-racist organisation building on ours and the borough’s proud history of campaigning on equality. It is no longer enough for us to tackle inequalities, we must be actively anti-racist.
This means committing, or recommitting, to action at every level of our organisation to become a truly anti-racist council and borough.
We launched the improving outcomes for young Black men programme to tackle inequalities facing Black boys and young Black men.
The ambition is to:
- harness the potential of young Black men
- increase their visibility and tackle the inequalities they face
- ensure outcomes in everything from education and health for Black boys and young Black men are the same as the wider population within the next 10 to 15 years
The focus is to ensure:
- they are better served in education and that fewer get excluded from school
- improved wellbeing particularly, mental wellbeing
- they have access to better jobs
- they are at less risk of harm and violence
It’s also about getting more Black people into leadership roles, and changing and challenging negative stereotypes about Black boys.
The programme involves us, the voluntary sector and academics. It also involves young people and their families to create real and lasting changes.
We adopt the theory of change to identify where and how inequality exists, and agree the changes that the programme wants to see. It’s developed with the University of East London and an independent race equality think tank, and informed through talking and listening to the community.
We host more than 100 academics, council officers, partners and community members in November 2017 to an event to consider research and evidence of what works; and to learn from academics and social researchers working on issues relating to the experiences of young Black men.
Youth leaders group of young Black men first established, by community partners HCVS, in partnership with us. They work with senior leaders to help develop the understanding of what is driving inequality and what’s needed. They are also employed to inspire others and influence policy by delivering workshops in schools and community groups, participating in Scrutiny and meeting key civil servants in central government.
The Moving on Up Programme at HCVS was delivered with funding from the Trust for London. The project, one of six funded across London, works with 123 young people, 58% of whom find employment as a result. It demonstrates the importance of targeted work that helps people develop their skills and emphasises changing employer attitudes and practices rather than just focusing on what prospective candidates need to do.
The work is externally evaluated and the learning from the programme helped influence how things are done locally and regionally, including the Inclusive Employer programme and the Greater London Authority’s Workforce Integration Network, which supports young Black boys and men to access good-quality employment in the digital and construction sectors.
Inspired by our focus on improving outcomes of Young Black Men, East London Business Alliance launched the Parity Project in 2017 which seeks to increase businesses’ understanding of the issues of young Black men and ways to support their professional development. This leads to more than 250 young men securing employment, with that work continuing.
We launched our own apprenticeship programme in 2017. From the outset, employing young Black men has been a key goal, linked to the Improving Outcomes for Young Black Men Programme.
- young men have been trained as inspirational leaders to help others and deliver workshops in schools and community groups
- headteachers have been working to reduce inequalities in schools
- health teams have created new mental health initiatives
- hundreds of young black men have been directly helped into work
We create an Inclusive Leadership Training programme to improve diversity in the workplace, especially at senior levels of the organisation, to tackle unconscious bias and to report on our ethnicity pay gap.
As a result:
- thirty-five inclusion champions recruited and trained to deliver inclusive leadership training to senior managers
- we rolled out cultural competency training to ensure managers are more confident in engaging with diverse staff and community interests
- people from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds appointed to senior roles
We are the first local authority in the UK to pass a motion regarding the Windrush Generation commiting us to fight for the justice of those affected by the Windrush scandal concerning people who were:
- wrongly detained
- denied legal rights
- threatened with deportation
The motion proposes to:
- continue campaigning for an end to all hostile environment policy measures and to call on the government to enable the Windrush Generation to acquire British citizenship at no cost and with assistance throughout the process
- lead the way, by celebrating an annual Windrush Day in Hackney, and for us to welcome the government’s announcement to make 22 June each year an annual celebration of recognise and honour the enormous contribution of those who arrived between 1948 and 1971
- press the Prime Minister to call for an independent public enquiry into the Windrush scandal
- demand the government supports advice agencies in their work to achieve justice for all Hackney residents of the Windrush generation
- review our policies and procedures to ensure we support those affected
- support the call for fees for naturalisation to be waived for all those who have been affected
- oppose the criminalisation of Windrush families
We pass a motion that commits to being an anti racist organisation. One that doesn’t just tackle inequality, but actively fights racism in the borough.
The motion acknowledges that:
- Black people are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police
- Black children have rates of permanent exclusion about three times that of the pupil population as a whole
- a public health england report found that the Black, Asian and Global Majority communities have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In response, we resolve to:
- publish our anti-racism programme of work from across council services in one publicly available report, and ask our partners to pledge their commitment to anti-racism in the borough
- strengthen the partnership between us and youth representatives to hold the local police to account through the Youth IAG (account) and to campaign for policing by consent
- provide guidance and tools to Hackney’s schools to create a diverse and antiracist curriculum that educates children and young people on Britain’s role in upholding systemic racism, and our borough’s local diverse history
- better reflect Hackney’s diversity and anti-racist history in the borough’s public spaces
- improve the diversity of the senior leadership of the council
- lobby for an independent inquiry into the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and whether their actions helped or hindered the protection of Hackney’s Black communities
- put in place initiatives and activities to raise awareness, educate on the history of people of African-descent, and promote their contributions to contemporary societies
Two new public artworks celebrating and honouring Hackney’s Windrush Generation are commissioned. They are to be the first permanent public sculptures to honour the Windrush legacy in the UK.
- serve as a permanent expression of solidarity with the Windrush Generation
- are recognition of the significant contribution they have made to life in Hackney and the UK
- symbolise the ongoing commitment from the borough to provide refuge and welcome to worldwide migrants
Veronica Ryan’s series of large marble and bronze sculptures of Caribbean fruit and vegetables are placed by St Augustine’s Tower, in Narrow Way, Hackney central.
Veronicas inspiration behind the sculptures come from her childhood visits to Ridley Road Market.
Her work goes on to win the Turner Prize 2022.
Thomas J Price’s artwork is unveiled in Hackney Town Hall Square. Thomas creates two large scale bronze sculptures, a physical representation of individual people from the African Caribbean diaspora. He created the sculpture using photo archives from Hackney Museum, Hackney Archives, and 3D scans of Hackney Windrush residents and descendents.
We launch a review of statues and names of buildings, streets, parks and other public spaces to ensure they reflect Hackney’s diversity, and history of fighting racism.
We listened to the views of residents and others about how to tackle public spaces that are named after slave and plantation owners.
Contested figures include:
- John Cass (1661 to 1718) – a major figure at the Royal African Company
- Francis Tyssen (1625 to 1699) – an absentee plantation owner, and owner of enslaved Africans
- Cecil John Rhodes PC (1853 to 1902) – a British imperialist whose policies and practices have had a lasting negative effect on Southern Africa
- Robert Geffrye (1613 to 1704) – an East India merchant, and investor in the Royal African Company
The Review, Rename and Reclaim process involves consultation with residents and businesses situated on roads and spaces identified by the review.
Cassland Road Gardens is renamed Kit Crowley Gardens after prominent local community figure Kathleen ‘Kit’ Crowley. This was following a public consultation during which more than 600 residents and park users voted. Kit was born in 1918 to an English mother and Barbadian father, and experienced poverty and racism growing up in Hackney.
Tyssen Primary School is rebranded Oldhill School following a consultation with parents and children. The overwhelming majority was in favour of removing the old name. We led interactive design workshops with the children to help create a new logo.
The Review, Rename and Reclaim model is copied by the Mayor of London’s commission for diversity in the public realm.
Our corporate plan is refreshed to ensure equality and fairness is central to everything it does. Along with ensuring that there is a clear definition between structural and systemic racism.
Defining the two helps us appreciate that not all groups are treated the same. Some groups will need more support or focus than others due to the hierarchical nature of society which places certain groups above others.
We announce a groundbreaking new curriculum: Hackney’s Diverse Curriculum – the Black Contribution.
The new nine, six-week lesson plans – developed in partnership with teachers – look at the contributions of Black people across the ages, and can be adapted according to the age or needs of students.
The modules include:
- When I Grow Up (for pupils aged five and under)
- British Identity
- Untold Stories
- An Exploration of British History
It also complements our commitment to being an anti-racist borough as outlined in our Black Lives Matter Motion in June 2020.
More than 600 schools from across the world sign up to the curriculum, including in Singapore and Spain.
A new set of teaching resources is created to enable students to learn about the Windrush generations and their contribution to life in Britain, using Veronica Ryan’s sculptures and the work of Thomas J Price as inspiration.
We launch our Anti-racism Plan which sees it leading from the inside out – by looking into how inclusive we are within the council, to how we tackle all forms of racism in our community.
The plan covers five main areas:
- institutional change
- community engagement
- culture and leadership
Within these areas are principles of community collaboration, engagement and empowerment with a cross-generational and intersectional approach.
The plan will reinvigorate our achievements and help us create new ones.
We set in motion a series of actions to better protect residents, and especially children, from harm and racism. It follows the stripsearch of Child Q, a Black teenage girl, by police officers in a Hackney secondary school.
An investigation found that racism and adultification bias – where Black children are treated more harshly than their white peers – were likely factors in what happened.
This independent review, led by the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Panel, makes 14 recommendations to ensure children are protected in future – with a focus on Black and Global Majority children.
We are not named in any of the recommendations, but we have been leading many aspects of the response, including:
- ensuring the work by police leads to real change
- responding to the impact of the case on the borough’s Black communities
- making changes to how we think and work as a result of feedback from communities
- putting pressure on the government to make changes in the law to ensure children are better protected
Our work covers five key areas:
Work with police
- lead the development of an action plan – co-produced by the community, us and police – to help rebuild trust in the police service locally.
- lead the revision of how safer schools police officers interact in schools and around police school visits
- issue guidance on police searches in schools
- write to the Deputy Mayor for Policing for a wider London review of the guidance to safer schools police officers
Work with schools
- recruit a Diversity and Inclusion lead to support anti-racism work
- expand adultification training and makes it available to all schools
- work with the school Child Q attended to bring in new leadership and to ensure the school community is fully supported
- support spaces and provides material on talking to and listening to children and staff affected by racism
- facilitate a joint headteacher statement on anti-racism and safeguarding
- ask schools to focus on listening to more pupils and parents from Black and Global Majority backgrounds and ensure stronger anti-racism practices are developed
- oversee the development and use of an inclusion charter, encompassing anti-racism
- focus on capturing the voices and views of children, and in particular Black children, about their schools
- commit to capturing the voices of parents or carers who are most likely to experience a sense of exclusion within schools
- provide racialised trauma support as well as information, drop-in and question and answer sessions
- run induction and refresher training on anti-racism
- promote anti-discriminatory practices with school governors
- distribute information to our secondary schools and colleges that informs young people as to their rights when they are stopped and searched by the police
Work with the community
- online sessions for parents, carers and guardians to update them on actions within the education system and have their questions answered by senior leaders
- safe space sessions for young Black girls to speak about their experiences of living and growing up in Hackney, as well as of the education system and the police
- workshops with young people through youth and community settings
Work to change the law
- write to and meet government ministers to discuss the Child Q case and urge them to make changes including an urgent review of policing guidelines and practices around the stripsearching of children, and an urgent review of the law to ensure that no child is stripsearched without their parents or guardians being notified
- demand the Met Police self-declare that institutional racism is a consistent factor in the relationship between the police and Black and Global Majority communities
- hold a four day anti-racism staff conference to understand the ways in which racial-trauma is entangled with distress and hardship, learn correct ways to treat all communities, change how we work so we’re informed by the lived experiences of all communities
In Hackney we celebrate Black culture and history all year round. As we strive to be an anti-racist borough, it remains important to have focused time to learn, share and celebrate our African and African-Caribbean heritage and culture in Hackney and around the world.
This year’s theme is stories untold. Our children and education services develop the theme after hosting the groundbreaking Antiracist Conference in May 2022. Inspired by the Warm Shores sculptures outside of Hackney Town Hall, they wanted to center the often silenced, intergenerational stories and voices of Black and Global Majority people.
By celebrating these stories untold, we hope they can continue to unmask, repair and prevent the hidden wounds of racial trauma on Black and the Global Majority children and families in Hackney.