Our journey to become an anti-racist organisation

 

Barnwood Trust exists to be of service to every disabled person or person with a mental health challenge who lives in the county. No community should be left out and no community should feel unrecognised or devalued.

Gloucestershire has a huge diversity of geography: rural beauty, urban sprawl, inner city life, and everything in between. But with so little racial diversity, deep-seated unconscious biases often go unchallenged here. We love working in and for this county, but we must work for all of it. To fully deliver our mission, our work needs to be shaped by people from all communities. We want to make sure that we are not only reaching white people and white communities through our work, but also that we are reaching and including all the people and communities of colour within our county.

To do this we need to be an anti-racist organisation, a safer place for people of colour. We know that to be an anti-racist organisation we need to change both our relationships and our organisational practices, and that this is the minimum we need to achieve as quickly as possible.

 

Changing our relationships

We need to examine and own our individual biases and prejudices. These are often called ‘unconscious biases’ but we are grateful to colleagues who have pointed out that they are not so much ‘unconscious’ as ‘thoughtless’ biases. Calling them unconscious lets us off the hook and suggests we cannot control them. We know we can and must do something about them.  We have begun a long-term organisational development programme to improve our self-awareness and ability to become anti-racist.

We understand that just seeking to ‘increase diversity’ is not the right starting point for becoming an anti-racist organisation – it is about access, opportunity and attitude. We are learning that we need to increase access to opportunities to work alongside us. This includes creating access to recruitment processes that account for differing levels of opportunity and bringing equity to the way applicants’ previous experience and careers are considered for jobs here. Our goal is to have relationships and organisational processes that encourage diverse participation in all our activities.

 

Changing how we work

We recognise that at Barnwood we are stewards of resources – money, yes, but also capacity, expertise, and connections – which are dedicated to disabled people and people with mental health challenges in Gloucestershire. We also recognise, however, that we do not yet have enough expertise within Barnwood to direct those resources most effectively towards racial justice for disabled people of colour and people of colour with mental health challenges. We need the leadership and expertise of people of colour.

We are therefore creating a new, dedicated role for a person of colour to join our staff team to influence what we do next. This role will shape how the Trust’s vision and strategy can be developed to be most relevant to what people of colour need from the Trust.

As part of our long-term Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) plan we will be making some structural changes to our organisation. This includes recruiting new members of the Board of Trustees, which has overall responsibility for what the Trust does. We are also growing a membership scheme for people who share our passion about making Gloucestershire a better place for disabled people and people with mental health challenges. Members will help to shape our work and have opportunities to get involved in projects with us.

We will be undertaking a specific project, advised by other funders and philanthropists who are doing similar work, to identify where all the Trust’s funds are ultimately invested, the ethical status of those investments and how to ensure that the Trust’s funds are not perpetuating social or racial injustices.  This work will guide the Trust’s future instruction to its investment managers.

How we move forward will be born out of collaboration. There is work that we have set about doing internally as you have read, and we are committed to these projects. But the expectations we have of ourselves, as individuals and as an organisation, need to be formed in conversation with you. We really would like to hear directly from people of colour across the county about your vision for a different immediate future and bigger changes over the next few years. What are these expectations and how do you think we should achieve them, both with you and for you?

 

Get in touch

Please get in touch with our Chief Executive Officer, Sally Byng, to tell her what you think about this blog or anything else. If you would like her to come to, or organise, a meeting in your community to listen to what you have to say to the Trust, please also be in touch. You can contact her by email sally.byng@barnwoodtrust.org, or by phone 01242 539935

Alternatively, book a time to talk to Sally using Calendly here

 

To watch a BSL video of this statement please click here