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Luen’s blog: Rooting out racism

We’re proud to be part of West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership’s anti-racism movement. Around 500 organisations are taking part, all are committed to rooting out racism wherever they find it.

This movement is so important, not just because it exists at all, but because it is being launched now, in 2021. It seems that many voices in the media, politics and society as a whole believe that we’ve already tipped the scales too far towards racial sensitivity and we need to rebalance our resources towards the status quo, so it’s vital to state and restate the importance of facing down racism in all its forms. That’s why we have pledged our commitment.

Why is it important? Here are some thoughts that I have been mulling over since picking them up and discussing them with my connections and networks: 

  • We need to recognise that structural and institutionalised racism exists in healthcare and in wider society. To be ‘not racist’ is to give implicit consent to this; to be anti-racist is to commit to changing it. 
  • We should aim to reverse the current situation whereby those most affected by racism are often the ones given the greatest burden to do something about it. We can all do something about it. 
  • We must understand that racism is a health issue. The pandemic laid bare the stark inequalities that exist in our society, but it didn’t create them. We must do more to reduce health inequalities within our communities and recognise the role that racism plays in all the determinants of health and wellbeing including housing, education, employment and relationships. Forget Me Not has a part to play in this, in speaking up for the families we work with, in supporting our staff and in engaging with our volunteers and supporters. 

This movement is just a start. The job is by no means ‘done’; it might never be. 

This movement needs more allies. We need a culture where everyone feels able to stand up against racism and to have each other’s back. I’m really proud to be working in an area that has made such a loud and focused stand against racism, and proud that we can play our part. 

All of our staff will have anti-racism training this month and we have invested in learning more about unconscious bias. We have been looking at our recruitment processes for staff, trustees and volunteers and made a pledge which demonstrates our commitment in this area. We employ staff who are specifically focussed on breaking down barriers to improve access to services and are proud that around 60% of our families come from minority ethnic communities, where sadly the prevalence for life-limiting conditions is so much higher. 

But there is always more we could be doing. Recognising the barriers that get in the way might mean we can do more faster by being more inclusive, by supporting each other and by being open to challenging ourselves.