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One year on from the murder of George Floyd, in Southwark

25 May 2021

Today, Tuesday 25 May, Southwark Council is inviting residents to join staff in a minute’s silence to remember George Floyd, and all victims of racism.

The council is also looking back at all that it has heard, learned and promised, this last year since the horrific murder in Minneapolis.

In the summer of 2021, in response to the hurt and anger expressed across our borough, Southwark Council embarked on its Southwark Stands Together initiative to tackle racism, discrimination and inequality. It aimed to reconsider its values on an individual, organisational and borough wide level.

Bringing people together from different ethnic backgrounds, Southwark Council sought to hear and better understand experiences of racism, discrimination and inequality in the community. Last summer, it hosted open listening and theme based events that were attended by more than 1,500 people. Specific events were organised for young people and 1,268 people responded to an online survey that the council shared.

It published anonymised findings from these listening exercises and the survey and used them to inform recommendations across eight themes. It is investing £300,000 to support the delivery of these priorities.

Southwark Council has developed five anti-racist pledges as part of a commitment to becoming an anti-racist organisation. Businesses, organisations, groups and individuals can contact the council to sign up for and act on these pledges as well.

We are now working to take action based on what you told us in the listening events and survey. Whilst there is much still to do, we are making good progress on a range of issues including:

  • Working to ensure those with influence in our borough reflect our communities, for example by working to attract more Black professionals onto governing bodies in Southwark schools, and by increasing the number of Black, Asian and ethnic minority colleagues at senior management level in the council.
  • Working with all schools in the borough to reduce exclusions and keep children in school, recognising that exclusions disproportionately affect our children from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds.
  • Helping to build trust between the police and the community, and find solutions to deep-rooted concerns around stop and search. As part of this work, a new Youth Independent Advisory Group has been formed with over 25 members aged 14+, to work together with the police and other organisations to influence policy for people living in the borough.
  • Identifying statues, street names and any other links with slavery as part of an anti-racist audit, so that our borough can make positive changes to reject these historic links, and instead honour a more diverse range of people for positive reasons.

Find out more about our progress in helping to tackle racism and make Southwark an equal borough.

Cllr Kieron Williams, Leader of Southwark Council, said: “The murder of George Floyd was a devastating moment for people across the world, and on the anniversary of his death my thoughts are with his family and friends and with all those who have lost love ones as a result of racism, hate and discrimination.

“George’s death showed the worst of humanity, but legacy has shown the best in a renewed global determination to tackle systemic racism. In Southwark we have made sure that urgent need for change is at the heart of our work to build a fairer borough. I am deeply thankful to everyone in our community who has come forward to share their experiences of racism and inequality. Your stories and ideas form the foundation of our Southwark Stands Together work to eradicate racism, discrimination and inequality.

“We know that the pain hasn’t gone away, and despite all we have done collectively as a borough and a community, much more progress is needed. On this sombre day, I repeat my commitment that we will constantly challenge ourselves to be better, stronger and unequivocally anti-racist in all that we do.”

For more on the council’s anti-racist work and projects, please visit: southwark.gov.uk/southwarkstandstogether

Page last updated: 25 May 2021