As part of The Cares Family, East London Cares’ mission is to help people find connection and community in a disconnected age – by reducing loneliness and isolation; deepening belonging, purpose and power; and bringing people together to bridge the gaps across social, generational, digital, cultural and attitudinal divides.
We cannot achieve those objectives without being an anti-racist organisation. That means we are committed to tackling racism wherever it occurs in our organisation, and to supporting the end of systemic racism in our communities and wider society. We recognise that our own policies and processes, built over nine years since we started The Cares Family, have not done nearly enough to proactively root out racism both in our own work and in our broader communities – and that, in fact, they are likely to have upheld the injustices and inequities, and the systems of oppression, that occur within and beyond our charities.
We believe that this is a fight for everyone.
That’s why, starting in June 2020 – and in response to the murder of George Floyd and so many other racial injustices in the US, the UK and around the world; the terrible impact of Covid-19 on Black people, people of colour and people from other ethnic minorities, which reveals again the health inequalities in our systems and cultures; and the inspirational leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement – The Cares Family is taking concrete action to make real our commitment to our values, and to help contribute to an awakening and sustained change in our communities.
Firstly, we want to own that we are part of the problem. For an organisation whose mission is to build community and connection, and to do so across perceived differences, we have not always had the courage of our convictions when it comes to racism. Yes, we have always had a commitment to equal opportunity and in the last two years we have instigated a diversity initiative. But trying to be equal, or attempting to be diverse, is not the same thing as being pro-actively anti-racist, and a piecemeal approach cannot solve rooted systemic injustices built up over centuries and hardwired into economies and cultures.
Our blind spots and our inactivity have led to failings. In our programmes and in our staff teams, we haven’t challenged racism everywhere it has occurred, for fear of upsetting people or overreaching on our charitable objectives. We haven’t protected colleagues enough when they have been confronted with racism in their jobs. We haven’t acted quickly enough to find space for Black and other ethnic minority leadership in our staff or board teams. In neglecting to do these things, we haven’t built a culture that is safe for everyone to work in and to thrive in. Instead, we have acted timidly in the hope that, ultimately, people might change.
But hope is not a strategy and change doesn’t happen without action.
Now, we are setting out on an altogether different approach – to be proudly anti-racist in everything we do – so that we can be part of the solution, and no longer part of the problem. To start out on that journey, since the start of June, we have:
The progress we make through this action will not happen quickly, nor will this work alone be sufficient. We know the path towards progress is not a straight line, and more people will continue to feel the trauma of racism every day, everywhere. But by educating ourselves and providing space for our communities to learn; by being accountable for our own actions as an organisation; and by speaking out when we see racial injustice, we can make a significant difference.
We are committed to holding ourselves to account on this agenda, so will regularly share the work we are doing, and the tools we find most helpful, to support others in their anti-racism work too. In the meantime, we’re grateful to all our partners and supporters for helping to build community and connection in disconnecting times and – relationship by relationship – helping to re-make the world as it should be.