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Building equal foundations

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Building Equal Foundations: One Year On report

In August 2020, we launched our Building Equal Foundations report and action plan, setting out 140 actions to tackle racial inequalities and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people of Black, Asian, and other ethnic backgrounds. We worked together with our partners, communities, and services across the Council to gather evidence and develop actions.

We have delivered ambitious projects and pushed the boundaries of what is achievable for local authorities and communities. There has been a shift in the conversation about equalities in Camden and a real momentum for change, which has led to wider equalities work beyond Building Equal Foundations.

We are extremely proud of the progress we have made. But there remains a lot of work to do, and we are fully committed to continuing and accelerating our work to tackle inequality and disproportionality over the coming year. Our Building Equal Foundations One Year On report goes into detail on the 140 actions, and has case studies of key achievements and projects:

Building Equal Foundations: One Year On report (PDF)

Building Equal Foundations: One Year On executive summary (PDF)

Examples of key achievements and case studies:

  • COVID-19 Health Champions scheme
  • Partnership with the Black Curriculum reviewing the curricula of Camden schools
  • Camden Learning crowd-funder raised £64,000 to distribute laptops to children without access to a device
  • Memorandum of Understanding for Zero Tolerance of Racist Abuse in Adult Social Care settings
  • Vaccine bus and community engagement work to tackle vaccine hesitancy
  • Partnerships and support for Voluntary and Community Sector partners to help residents impacted by the pandemic
  • Anti-racism learning offer for all staff
  • End-to-end review of the recruitment process
  • Working group for anti-racist practice in procurement
  • Partnership with Black Pound Day and work to support Black-owned businesses
  • Good Work Camden Digital Inclusion Project
  • Renaming of Cecil Rhodes House and Beckford School
  • Diversity in the Public Realm work (arts, culture, high streets, open spaces)
  • Cultural calendar of events and learning sessions for staff and residents
  • Virtual work experience programme
  • Training and mentoring to support Black, Asian and other ethnic children into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) careers
  • Catalyst groups across all three directorates
  • Women of colour and men of colour progression networks
  • Safe Spaces
  • The Renewal Commission

Building Equal Foundations report

We have published a report looking into the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities to make sure they are protected from the immediate and long-term impacts of the pandemic. 
In response to this we implemented a rapid six-week programme – and worked together with our partners, communities and services across the organisation to gather evidence and develop actions to support staff and residents during this time and beyond, and to bring about wider systemic change. 
Building Equal Foundations presents our findings and sets out a plan of action to tackle racial inequalities in Camden:

Key findings in Camden:

  • In North Central London, there has been a higher percentage of COVID-19 deaths in people born in Africa or Asia, when compared to those born in the UK or Europe.
  • A significantly higher proportion of Asian residents were shielding from Covid-19 (11% of Asian residents shielding compared to a general population of 7%).
  • There was a disproportionate amount of new registrations in April and May from young people from Black, Asian and other ethnic backgrounds for Kooth, an online mental health support service commissioned by Camden.
  • 73% of households with overcrowding points on the Council’s Housing Allocation Scheme have a lead tenant from a Black, Asian or other ethnic background, this has also meant that some children have had limited space for home learning which is often shared with siblings.
  •  Young people raised a concern about unconscious bias in predicted grades and how this might affect the educational outcomes of Black, Asian and other ethnic students.
  • Black, Asian and minority ethnic workers are more economically vulnerable to the current crisis than white ethnic groups as they are more likely to work in the shut-down sectors such as restaurants, retail and the gig economy.
  • There has been a significant increase in rent arrears and Universal Credit (UC) claims since lockdown measures were put in place for those living in Council accommodation and data shows a disproportionate effect on Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.

Six areas of focus 

The final report sets out six focus areas that we have examined to identify and better understand the issues Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are facing during the pandemic. 

  • Understanding the lived experience of Black, Asian and people of other ethnicities
  • Health inequalities
  • The experiences of our most vulnerable residents – shielding people and Adult Social Care clients
  • Housing supply and overcrowding
  • Employment and the labour market, including our own workforce
  • Schools and education, including the digital divide.

Calls to action 

We want to build a more equal organisation and borough – and the report features over 140 calls to action, which are the next step in our journey to tackle structural inequality in Camden.

Our community-focused calls to action include:

  • Going further to improve outcomes across a range of long-term health conditions in Black, Asian and other ethnic communities
  • Developing tutoring and virtual work experience targeted at children and young people from minority ethnic backgrounds
  • Plans to improve housing and support tenants in overcrowded homes
  • Increase employment support and access to good jobs 
  • Working in partnership with Black, Asian and minority ethnic grass roots organisations, is also outlined in the final report. 

Key principles we are embedding as an organisation as a result of our work 

  • We need to listen and learn: We will not have all of the answers and we will be open to uncomfortable conversations. We are here to dismantle an entrenched system, and this will take time.
  • We do not treat people as a homogenous group: We recognise differences in experience and take a ‘neighbourhoods’ approach – by this we mean a tailored approach to specific groups’ needs.
  • Developing an intersectional approach to equalities: As human beings, we each have multiple identities. We want to focus on people’s whole selves, rather than just their individual equalities characteristics in isolation. This will help us truly know our communities and move away from homogenising groups.
  • We build on people’s strengths: We help our communities build resilience to short and medium-term impacts of the pandemic. Councils are uniquely able to engage, direct and incentivise the local collective resources of the public, private, academic and civic anchors in our places. The fastest route to equality is to start sharing power and resource with local places – they will do the rest.

Share your thoughts and feedback on the report

We’d love to find out what you think about the report and our calls to action. 
You can share your feedback by emailing us.