Local Trust believes that Black Lives Matter, and that all organisations and communities – and society as a whole – need to look to themselves and consider how they address discrimination and prejudice and provide opportunities for voices to be heard.
The protests that have swept the globe following the murder of George Floyd reflect a deep anger at this injustice, but also a huge up-swelling in collective action and a sense that, by standing together, people can make change happen. The belief that people are at their most powerful when working together sits at the heart of the Big Local vision.
Local Trust understands that in many Big Local areas there will be individuals and communities whose lives have been touched by the issues raised over the last week, and that they will want to consider how – as local communities – they respond to those issues. Where this is the case, we would encourage them to do so, either in partnership meetings or through other activities (whilst accepting the restrictions that currently exist around activities that can take place at a local level).
Within Local Trust, we held a staff-led event to explore our own personal responses to the issues raised by the current protests and reflected on how we, as an organisation, can respond, and have set up a working group of staff to look at our practice. The wider staff group have together created an internal “virtual bookshelf” resource through which they can share information, publications and ideas that are relevant to the issue. We would encourage others, including residents in Big Local areas, to engage in similar sharing of information, ideas and experiences.
As an organisation, we have consistently sought to capture and understand issues relating to power, voice and agency, and the need to ensure that the huge imbalances and inequalities that exist within our society are recognised and addressed. We will be reflecting on how we can explore further the issues raised over the last week through our research programme, with particular focus on the ways in which Big Local partnerships have engaged with and provided space for the voice of BAME communities to be heard.
Later this year, we will be holding an event for Big Local areas to look at issues of diversity and inclusion, which is intended to provide a time for Big Local partnership members to consider, share, listen and challenge one another, as well as an opportunity to learn from outside voices. The planning for this event will benefit from important issues raised through the protests of the last few days, to ensure there is scope for them to become part of an ongoing dialogue within the areas we work with.
Further guidance on equality and diversity within the Big Local programme can be found here.