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Black Lives Matter: A statement from Catch22’s Chief Officer’s Group

A group photograph of Nigel Richards, Christina Duru, Mat Ilic, Chris Wright and Naomi Hulston.

At Catch22, we see racial disparities and inequalities every day due to the services we deliver. Please read this statement from our Chief Officers Group (pictured above) on how we will work to do more for our staff and service users following recent events.

The murder of George Floyd has again reminded us of the terrible reality that structural racism exists. Not only is this the case in the US, but also here in the UK.

Millions of people have rightly expressed shock and outrage. Many have taken to social media platforms to condemn the murder and the subsequent police brutality. Hundreds of people have shared their stories of prejudice, unjust treatment and blatant discrimination.

Many also feel helpless and unsure about what they can do to change things.

The same applies to an organisation such as Catch22. What can we do or say, above highlighting what we already do to promote equality and diversity and stamp out racism? How can we help further the cause and drive lasting change? What can we meaningfully say that isn’t perceived as ‘passive empathy’ or tokenistic?

As an organisation, we see racial disparities and inequalities evident in our daily work – from school exclusions to those we support in the criminal justice system and the thousands of people a year we help into employment. We know that Black Caribbean students are three times more likely to be permanently excluded from school compared to their White British counterparts; Black people are over 3 times as likely to be arrested as White people and the percentage of Black people in Britain who are unemployed is twice that of White British.

It shouldn’t be this way and our approach is always to do everything we can to level the playing field.

At Catch22 we have access to local and national government structures that allow us to influence decision makers. We have strong local partnerships – with local authorities and police and crime commissioners – and have a seat at the table on national forums (such as the Youth Task Force) designed to address inequality, racial prejudice and drive social change. We were involved in the Lammy Review, which examined the treatment of, and outcomes for BAME individuals in the criminal justice system.

But it’s clear that there is still a long way to go. Not enough change or progress has been achieved.

That applies both at a national level, but also for us at Catch22. We’re proud of our equality and diversity approach both for staff (through our mandatory interactive training sessions) and in our service delivery. We have active groups involving colleagues from across the organisation in areas such LGBT+ and mental health. But we will be doing more; such as reinvigorating our equality and diversity staff group to scrutinise our approach and work with our People Team to embed good practice across the organisation.

Whatever platform we have, we will continue to use it to promote Catch22’s belief that the 3Ps – a good place to live, good people around you and a purpose in life – are key for everyone, regardless of race, religion or colour, to lead a fulfilling life. And we will use the evidence from our frontline services where we see inequality and prejudice, to inform better policy making.

Recent events are hard to digest and will have had a very personal impact on many people and individuals will use the means they feel are most effective to make their voices heard. At Catch22, we will continue to use the mechanisms we have to promote the fair, equal society that everyone deserves.