Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has announced the biggest ever investment in tackling racial inequality in the Liverpool City Region.
A £3.2 million Race Equality Hub will target employment inequalities and remove barriers in the labour market.
The Hub, one of the first of its kind in the country, will focus on training, employment support and business assistance for people from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.
The work would also see the City Region’s 22,000 local government staff receive race equality training.
Creation of the Hub is a key part of the Combined Authority’s Race Equality Programme, which was established by the Metro Mayor in the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.
The programme aims to tackle systemic racial injustice and inequality in the City Region.
It is estimated that addressing race inequalities could add around £300m to the Liverpool City Region economy each year.
Speaking about the investment, Mayor Rotheram said:
“We’ve all seen in the past few weeks, with the abuse directed at black footballers, that there is still a lot of work to be done to tackle racial inequality in this country. In the Liverpool City Region, we’re trying to lead the way.
“Through the Race Equality Programme we launched last year, we are taking practical, proactive and positive action to level the playing field and overcome bigotry and discrimination.
“I want to work with the communities most affected by racial inequality to create a Race Equality Hub designed around their needs and priorities. With their support, I want to see this hub lead on removing barriers to success and become a beacon of good practice for the rest of the country to follow.”
Joanne Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool and Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Education, Skills, Equality and Diversity, said:
“The evidence of the negative social and economic effects of racial inequality is overwhelming. Not only does it impact individuals from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, limiting their opportunities and reducing their quality of life, it is also an unforgivable waste of talent and potential for our society as a whole.
“We want to ensure that everyone in our city region has equality of opportunity and the Race Equality hub will deliver a programme of interventions to make that happen.”
Moni Akinsanya, LJMU’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager who initiated the Reciprocal Mentoring Programme, Positive Action Programme and the LCRCA’s Black, Asian, and Minority Staff Leadership Development Programme said:
“The Race Equality Hub is a desperately needed initiative. Many organisations wish to proactively address the issue of recruitment, progression and retention of people from Black, Asian and Minority communities but don’t really know how and who to approach. The hub will provide the urgently needed support and answer as it will bring together experts and consultants from diverse communities to work with organisations and people of colour themselves in addressing pertinent issues. I’m particularly pleased that a significant amount of investment has been put into this initiative which goes to show the seriousness about taking action for real visible and tangible changes in our city-wide region.”
Maleka Egeonu-Roby, community mentor at Elev8 Group, said:
“I am feeling particularly optimistic about “The Hub”. The opportunity to pool together and connect the work all the organisations are doing across the city region will provide a united and powerful front to tackling barriers and disproportionalities Black people and ethnically diverse communities face. For me, the opportunity to train local authority staff is pivotal, one black employee is not an expert of all black experiences. Also, providing employment and career pathways for Black and Ethnically diverse people where systems and the culture of the organisation will be inclusive of them and their needs is fundamental.”
Earl Jenkins, Chair of Kingsley United FC, said:
“Poverty is one of the biggest killers within our community – it also leads so many of our community to prison, and this initiative could be the key to breaking the negative cycles we have experienced for many years, breaking our families down.
“Our young people have so much promise but have had no arena to showcase their talent forcing them to move outside the city region for a career, and they are the lucky ones ! So many employment doors have been closed to us year after year, whilst we flourish in other parts of the country, how can this be?
“Finally we can now show the strength of our business case for inclusion and slam the doors on previous injustice within LOCAL employment! This is the right thing to do morally and financially for our wonderful, multi-cultural City Region!”
Work to establish the Hub will start this Autumn and take two forms. One, led by the Combined Authority, will include action to increase participation in existing programmes where people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds are underrepresented and to raise awareness of race equality issues across the city region.
That will include rolling out a programme of race equality training to the 22,000 people employed by the Combined Authority and the six Local Authorities.
It will also include the City Region’s involvement in The World Reimagined, a national art education programme that aims to help reframe cultural narrative on what it means to ‘be British’.
At the same time, a full business case will be created for the Hub. The Combined Authority will set up an external development board as it looks for partners to co-develop and co-design the initiative.
It is anticipated the Race Equality Hub will deliver business support, job readiness schemes, leadership development and mentoring programmes, as well as race equality training for businesses and organisations.
Extensive stakeholder engagement has already taken place to understand the specific issues in the Liverpool City Region, including speaking with nearly 350 people, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic-led organisations and citizens across all ages.