Anti-racism at Headway East London - an update on actions

(19th March 2021)

In July 2020, Headway East London put out a statement setting out our commitment in relation to the societal outrage raised up by the appalling effects of violence against black people. At that time, the organisation committed to doing a number of things, including establishing a working group involving stakeholders from across the organisation with a plan to meet at regular intervals to develop an action plan and timeline. We committed to publishing this on our website within the next six months and updated regularly. Part of our commitments also committed the organisation to equipping ourselves with more knowledge so that we can remove processes and barriers that sustain systematic racism. We have made progress in the following areas, although we recognise we still have much to do: –

  • The Diversity Working Group, consisting of staff from all services and at all levels in the organisation started meeting in September, and now has a regular programme of meetings each month. As well as including staff it includes trustees, and we are working towards involving our members in the work and already welcomed one of our members to the group.
  • As an initial piece of work, we undertook a review of our recruitment practices, and used new techniques in order to test out how to obtain more diverse pools of staff for recent recruitments for the arts studio coordinator, and a new tranche of community support workers. Learning from this included adding a statement to the recruitment information to attract more applicants from a diverse background and expanding our advertising platforms to include Job Centres and Universities.
  • As part of our commitment to diversity we also looked at how best to attract trustees from a diverse background in our recent recruitment, and we are delighted to have appointed three new trustees with great skills and a range of different lived experience and ethnicities.
  • We have been fortunate to be selected by a group of students from UCL who are working with us over the next three months to produce practical research on how we might increase the diversity of our staff and volunteers, and to look at the way we present ourselves on social media and how that affects perceptions of Headway East London.
  • Terms of reference for the diversity working group have been developed to reflect the values of the organisation in collaborative working, but also to ensure that the group has a clear focus of activities to drive practical change.
  • Recognising that a commitment to anti-racism and challenging all forms of discrimination is an individual as well as an organisational response, we have developed new communication tools, in order to make sure that all of our staff receive regular updates on the actions taken, We want everyone at HEL to understand that they can – and should – be active in helping us to reach our goal to be a truly inclusive organisation.
  • We are starting to look in partnership with other voluntary organisations in East London about how to present our work in this area, and how to improve our monitoring of recruitment and retention of staff, to ensure that we are not only recruiting people from diverse backgrounds, but that they have similar opportunities to progress throughout the organisation.

We will continue to look at where we can have the biggest impact and update this report in September 2021