Monday 7 September 2020

Brent Cabinet discusses vital report on implementing plans to tackle Black inequality in Brent

At 10am today the Brent Cabinet has a very important item on the Brent Black Community Action Plan.  It constitutes 10 detailed work streams on all aspect of the Council's work: 
1.    Early intervention: children, young people and families 
2.   Enabling and strengthening community leadership through capacity building  
3.   Developing community spaces – run and managed by local communities 
4.   Supporting the black community and voluntary sector - grant funding and procurement 
5.   Support for employment and enterprise 
6.   Accountability and engagement 
7.   Internal review of processes within the Council  
8.   Homes and homelessness 
9.   Tackling health inequalitieS
10. Embedding equality and diversity within the council workforce.
 Unfortunately there is a possibility that most publicity will be given to a parallel plan to review the names of  places in Brent associated with people involved in the slave trade, including Gladstone Park.  Although symbolically important and perhaps an 'easy win' the resulting furore may drown out the vital and more difficult work involved in tackling current inequalities in education, work, health and housing to name just some of the work streams.  As a veteran of the anti-racist campaigns in education in the 1970s I remember how the work we were undertaking in schools was derailed by rows about whether 'Baa, baa black sheep' should be banned. Slave trade names are important but have to be kept in perspective.

As an example of the detailed work this is Workstream 1 - Early Intervention: children, young people and families:

1.Working with schools to influence school curricula to:
·      support young black boys with developing self-esteem, self-worth and confidence in the classroom, and through coaching and mentoring in schools
·      ensure positive Black History is being taught.

School Effectiveness officers will continue to work with schools to encourage the teaching of black history. Good practice examples in Brent include schools, which have been awarded the United Nations ‘Rights Respecting Schools Award’, reducing inequality and promoting inclusive societies.

Officers will ensure schools maintain a focus on the progress of priority groups & will continue to support the ‘Raising Achievement of boys of Black Caribbean heritage’ project, building on the success in improving outcomes in Year 1/2 of the project.

2.Recruitment drive for black school governors. This includes encouraging schools and Governor training to include unconscious bias and anti-racism training. Recruitment processes for school governors are ongoing. A recent focused campaign resulted in 25% of recruited governors identifying as being Black/Black British. The governor training offer will be developed to include unconscious bias and anti-racism training.

3.Creating an assured way of life for young black people by enabling them to fulfil their ambitions and aspirations relating to education and work through:

  • enabling young people to explore and express their aspirations, which will include making them aware of opportunities available to them. This could also include confidence-building and making them feel ‘accepted’ and that
  • they do not have to work twice as hard as their non-black peers to achieve the same levels of positive outcomes for themselves
  • supporting parents with their own aspirations and to understand the aspirations of their families and children, and how they can enable their children to thrive
  • institutions, including FE colleges, reviewing their support to ensure it is enabling young black people to discover and achieve their aspirations and removing structural racism and unconscious bias and barriers.

Looking at the pinch points in a young person’s life (birth, starting school, transitioning from primary to secondary school, selecting GCSE subjects and beyond) we need to look at ensuring:

  •  that the institutions and individuals who are influencers in a young person’s life at various stages possess the cultural competence to understand and respond to the context, pressures and barriers young black people can encounter at every critical stage in their lives. Training will be essential.
  • young people are enabled and given the ability to prepare for and handle situations. This includes developing personal resilience skills and creating spaces to have difficult conversations, possibly in school. These conversations could be trauma felt or experienced, directly or indirectly
  • that institutions deploy trauma training for professionals working with young people to support them with trauma and other issues faced
  • space and opportunity for young people to act as leaders and influencers
  • opportunities for young people to learn about black history which can enable self-worth and aspirations to grow
  • opportunities to celebrate achievements, for example, through an annual Youth Pride of Brent Awards evening hosted by the Council.

Actions in this section will align with actions in work stream 5 regarding support for employment and enterprise. Parents will be supported to access early years entitlements and the 30 hours free childcare offer through the Progress for All project.

Family Wellbeing Centres will provide parents and carers of 0-18 year olds with access to support services and programmes to develop their confidence and life skills.

Trauma-informed practice training will continue to be provided for professionals working with young people. Schools and colleges will be supported to access training in areas of cultural competence, unconscious bias and anti-racism.

Working with YBF and the Beckmead Trust, integrated youth activities will be provided around the new Alternative Provision school at the Roundwood Centre from January 2021. Youth engagement through a series of podcasts exploring issues and concerns for young people.

With The Beat London, the council recently commissioned a special 

  • ‘Time to Talk Covid-19’, phone-in to discuss why the BAME community is disproportionately affected by Covid-19
  •  Brent Youth Parliament gives young people who may feel marginalised the opportunity to have a voice.

Alll the work streams can be accessed by following these LINKS

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