“The response to George Floyds murder on the streets of Minneapolis has brought home to us the need to stand up and be counted in this movement. There can be no neutrality in the face of injustice. Black lives do matter and we must work together to bring about genuine and real equality in every aspect of young peoples’ lives, especially in the fields of education and employment.” – Martha Wansbrough, CEO
As an organisation whose foundations lie in addressing social injustice, challenging issues of race and racial inequalities as well as fighting racism is central to Drive Forward’s vision of a society where all care-experienced people enjoy opportunity, empathy and respect.
We realise, however, that in order to do this we need to look within ourselves and continuously scrutinize our own practice, norms and behaviours. Only by being consistent with our own self-improvement and projecting that image to the outside, can we continue to be an effective driver for positive change within our immediate environment and beyond.
We acknowledge the enormous extent of the challenges that continuous systemic racism as well as the disproportionate impact of the current Coronavirus pandemic pose to members of the BAME community, and recognise the effects on the young people working with Drive Forward.
Comprehensive listening is an integral part of Drive Forward’s organisational culture and we’re grateful to have so many active and engaged young people eager to share their experiences and stories, learn from each other, and provide valuable insights and guidance to our charity.
In the light of the above, many young individuals have reached out to Drive Forward eager to voice their opinions, share their feelings, and looking for ways to become active. With the aim of providing them with a safe space where they can express their views, thoughts and emotions; a space where they are heard, listened to and supported; we invited them to come together as a group, encouraging mutual learning and fostering understanding on an individual as well as an organisational level.
We learned a lot from these meetings. The young people working with Drive Forward want to be part of the change; they want to listen to and learn from the stories of the BAME community; they want to increase their knowledge and skills so that they can become better at standing up in the face of racism and supporting those who are suffering under its yoke. We at Drive Forward are committed to support them and help them achieve their aspirations to the best of our abilities. In a first instance, we will continue to facilitate meetings and take direction from the goals and requirements of young people.
Listening to the concerns, experiences and hopes of the young people we support further allowed us to reflect on what active anti-racism means to us, as people and as a charity. We recognise that we need to do much more to combat racism and its consequences, particularly within the Drive Forward community, its partners, young people and supporters.
It is uncomfortable to admit past mistakes, but we are willing to acknowledge our failures to protect our young people to the best of our abilities and we want to learn from these painful experiences. As an organisation, Drive Forward is committed to becoming a more active challenger of racism in the workplace and a more effective supporter to those experiencing it.
To this purpose, we are currently:
- investing in increasing our organisational and individual knowledge and skillsets through professional training, active listening, reading and learning;
- working with young people and corporate partners to create a comprehensive policy addressing racism in the workplace;
- Putting additional resources into researching racial discrimination in the workplace, so that we can integrate our learning and experience of young people in the training provided to corporate partners.
We want to work together with our partners, young people and supporters to combat racial prejudice and discrimination. We want our young people to feel protected and supported throughout the whole of their experiences with the Drive Forward community. There can be no neutrality in the face of injustice. We stand with #BlackLivesMatter.