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Keep Southwark Safe

Tackling racial inequalities, racism and injustice - Southwark Stands Together

Southwark Stands Together is a borough-wide initiative in response to the injustice and racism experienced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, and to the inequalities exposed by COVID-19.

What is Southwark Stands Together?

The brutal killing of George Floyd by US police officers shocked the world, and highlighted the systemic injustice, violence and racism experienced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities across the globe. The killing has sparked the fire beneath the Black Lives Matter movement and inspired people, worldwide, to make a stand against the atrocity of racism, past and present.

Southwark is one of the most diverse boroughs in the country, and as an authority, the council wanted to show our solidarity and support for BAME residents, and to work together tackle racism and achieve equality.

Southwark Stands Together is a new, proactive approach, which will focus on ways we can identify, listen and learn, and then tackle racism and inequality in the borough. The approach will include:

  1. An anti-racist audit: We will identify statues and street names that do not reflect our borough's diversity, especially anything with links to slavery or our country's colonial past. We will also identify positive opportunities to celebrate more diverse figures, which truly reflect Southwark’s foundation.
  2. A listening exercise: We will join with communities across the borough, partner organisations, and our staff, to hear their concerns. We want to explore all the ways racism creates barriers to BAME people achieving true equality, from jobs and prospects, to housing and safety and health.
  3. Finding solutions: We will seek to tackle entrenched and persistent racism and injustice. We have written to businesses and organisations in the borough to work with us to implement these solutions, taking positive action to ensure equality of opportunity and a fairer future for all.

What has happened so far

Survey

  • we launched the Southwark Stands Together survey on 6 July 2020 to hear from residents about their own experiences of racism and injustice
  • we asked people to tell us what they think needs to happen to make Southwark a fairer place for people of all backgrounds
  • the survey closed on 5 August 2020 - 1,268 people filled in the survey online

Public listening events

  • we held four online listening events, which were open to the public, at the end of June and throughout July; at these events we heard about the experiences of individuals who live, work and visit Southwark
  • people in these sessions talked about the grievances that have been brought to the forefront by the Black Lives Matter Movement as well the health inequalities highlighted by COVID-19; this will help us to understand what needs to change and how Southwark can stand together to deliver a fairer and more equal society
  • we held listening events on 13 August in Peckham Square and on 18 August 2020 at East Street Market; our staff talked to residents about their experiences and carried out a short questionnaire
  • we held an online community and panel debate on 20 August, which explored how we can work together to better reflect and celebrate cultural diversity publicly across the borough
  • on 24 August Southwark Young Advisors ran an online event for 14 to 25 year olds to have their voice heard on racial injustices within the community and to find solutions to tackle discrimination

Themed roundtable events

Alongside the wider public meetings, we're also hosting themed discussions to explore specific issues relating to opportunities for the BAME community in Southwark. This includes events focusing on:

  • employment
  • business
  • education
  • health
  • community cohesion
  • policing

Next steps

All of this work will be brought together in a report to Southwark Council’s Cabinet Meeting in September. The report will set out findings from Southwark Stands Together and make recommendations on how the council can take this work forward and make our borough a fairer and more equal society for all.

Page last updated: 07 October 2020

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