Race Equality Programme will address accessing employment and skills

Steve Rotheram

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community leaders have today (October 22) announced the establishment of a Race Equality Programme for the Liverpool City Region.

The new pan-city region programme will bring together leaders from the combined authority, local government, community organisations, business and the public sector to tackle systemic injustice and inequality and drive forward positive change for the city region’s BAME residents and the combined authority’s BAME employees.

The programme will develop a case for change and a coordinated and far-reaching plan of action to tackle racial injustice across the whole city region.

Work will start soon, with a wide-ranging community engagement exercise with BAME communities.

The first areas of focus will be to understand BAME experiences of racism in accessing employment and skills, business support and the life experiences of young people.

This will complement and be coordinated with work being undertaken by Liverpool City Council’s Race Equality Taskforce.

The aim will be to build a commitment to change in long-standing structural inequalities faced by BAME communities in all areas of society, with firm plans for action.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will also publish its own Declaration of Intent on Race Equality, which will set out the issues and identify targets for how the combined authority will work to tackle racial inequality, both within the combined authority, and more widely across the city region.

Further work will follow with communities to co-create solutions.

Launching the commitment, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “Whether it was the global outpouring of anger following the death of George Floyd, or the disproportionate impact the COVID pandemic has had on different communities across our city region, the events of this year have brought into sharp focus the deep-seated and structural inequalities which still exist in our society.

“We are launching our Race Equality Programme because we recognise that the only way we can take meaningful action and bring about change in response, is for every part of our community to acknowledge the issues honestly, listen, learn and take action.

“As part of this I am committing the combined authority to take a hard and honest look at its own shortcomings.

“With our Declaration of Intent on Race Equality, we will set ourselves challenging targets to ensure that our workforce reflects the communities we serve much better than it does currently and to ensure that our funding programmes are more accessible and have positive impact for our BAME communities.

“But we know we can do more and we want to make sure we get this right so we will be working with BAME communities and institutions to develop solutions, I would encourage everyone to take part in the consultation work we will be undertaking.”

Claire Dove, VCSE Crown Representative for the UK Government, said: “Black Lives Matter protests have given us a stark and unavoidable reminder that we are not doing anywhere near enough to tackle race inequality in our city region.

“By being honest, reflecting on ourselves and collaborating, we have a new and vital opportunity to co-design solutions involving all our communities that can have a real and lasting impact.

“I believe young people should drive this change, it is their future , they have the motivation and energy to make a change, but we need to empower them and commit to translate their ideas and feedback into action.”

Garth Dallas, head of collaborations for the Good Business Festival, said: “Liverpool City Region has a diverse population from around the globe. It is home to the oldest Black African Community in the UK dating back to the 1730s, yet there are only a few black-led businesses in the city region and very scarce information is available on black-led business enterprise activity.

“The Good Business Festival is placing a spotlight on Liverpool City Region’s aspiration of being ‘a good place to do business because its businesses are good’.

“I, therefore, totally support the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s approach to take action on race equality, and its aim of identifying effective frameworks and models to help black-led businesses start-up, scale-up and add significantly to the economic activity of the region. Any inclusive economic growth strategy must address the under-representation of black-led businesses in the city region.”

Asif Hamid

Asif Hamid, chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “I believe it is our responsibility to fully and comprehensively ensure that we are part of the solution for racial justice in our city region and not part of the problem, and I welcome the formation of this programme to do just that.

“The LEP will be working with our board members, our sector sub-boards, our local businesses and business-facing organisations to ensure we are getting to the heart of the challenges and barriers faced.

“We can then work together to develop meaningful actions and plans that we can all undertake to make sure businesses are doing everything they can to eradicate racial injustice within the workplace.”

Tracey Gore, chair of Liverpool’s Race Equality Task Force, said: “It is welcome that the combined authority have taken the steps to set up this collaborative partnership to put in place a meaningful plan of action to address racial inequalities and injustices across our city region.

“As chair of Liverpool’s Race Task Force, I look forward to working collaboratively with the combined authority.

“It will mean uncomfortable discussions and lifting the lid on the ‘too hard to do’ box, all necessary, if we are to make long lasting change.

“It is our collective responsibility to make sure that the city region’s response to entrenched racial discrimination has a long lasting, positive impact for all of our citizens now and for future generations to come.”

The combined authority and partners will now commence work directly with BAME community organisations across the city region to take forward the work.

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