Faith and Racial Justice – catch up with our panel discussion

At the end of September we looked at what it means to be a person of faith when it comes to issues of racial justice. You can now catch up on the event on our You Tube channel.

The panel discussed questions including, do people of faith have a duty to respond to racial injustice? And in what ways can faith provide a space where people can come together to share and heal? They also reflected on how their own faith has influenced their response to events and movements such as Black Lives Matter.

Our panellists were: Catherine Okoronkwo – a writer and Church of England priest and the Racial Justice Advisor to the Bishop of Bristol. Shiv Sama – Chairperson of the Avon Indian Community Network and the South Gloucestershire Race Equality Network. Zainab Mai-Bornu – a lecturer at the University of Leicester, working on resources, inequalities, marginalisation, conflict, gender and development. Clive Lawton – CEO of the Commonwealth Jewish Council and an internationally active educational consultant, receiving his OBE in 2016 for services to education and the Jewish community.

Our facilitator was Ambrose Musiyiwa – a poet and a journalist. He facilitates CivicLeicester, a community media channel that uses events, social media and print and digital technologies to highlight conversations taking place in and around Leicester.

VIP Community Fund making a difference for Bristol’s BME communities

You can read more about the VIP Community Funds, including our BME fund and the outcomes of the projects we funded by following this link.

You can also view the short film we made profiling some of the funded projects where you can hear from people who received one of the grants and those who benefited from the work it funded. You can watch the film by following this link.

We awarded six micro-grants of £500 each to Bristol-based community groups and organisations through round two of our VIP BME Community Fund.

The funding was available for work that supports one or more of Bristol’s diverse Black and Minority Ethnic communities.

Many of the projects are already underway making a difference for the communities we work with.

The round two awards went to:

Black2Nature – BME Tree Planting Days

Two tree planting days for BME adults are planned. For each event they will bring BME adults from inner-city Bristol to the Chew Valley, giving them the opportunity to connect with nature by planting tree saplings, providing transport and lunch.

Coexist Community Kitchen – Speak & Eat

In this programme Coexist will work with people who are refugee or asylum seekers teaching cookery and ESOL. The programme is eight weeks long and each week they will support a participant to design and teach food from their culture. The second half of the session is with a qualified ESOL teacher.

Asian Health and Social Care Association Ltd – One Click Away

Due to the lockdown/s service living on their own have become isolated and lonely during this difficult time. The funding will go towards digital devices service to allow their service users to access social media to keep in touch with each other and staff.

Integrate UK – Breaking Barriers

The funding will provide BAME university students (18-24) and activists with paid work experience to deliver 33 remote tutoring lessons (in English, Maths and Science) to younger BAME service users whose educational attainment has been severely impacted by the pandemic.

Humanitarian Bristol – Wellbeing and Food Consultation

This project will carry out a consultation (consisting of questionnaires and 1-1’s) to learn more about the relationship between food and mental health.

RA Cultural Consultancy Services and Tours – Ancient Alkebulan in Four

This free course will run for two hours per week, and will explore subject matters that community members have been requesting – helping them connect with and learn about African History before enslavement. Course attendees will be encourage to then share their learning with their communities.

Black Lives Matter – Reforming the Norm

Black Lives Matter – reforming the Norm took place on Saturday 17 October 2020 and is available for catch-up on The Care Forum YouTube channel.

Held as part of Black History Month the event was hosted by Rachel de Garang from the Voice and Influence Partnership. Rachel was joined by two fantastic guest speakers Elysse Lawrence and Donnell Asare with Donnell performing his powerful new poem ‘Calabash’, written especially for the event. The panel discussion was followed by a lively and interesting Q&A session.

The event is BSL interpreted and subtitles are available by choosing the option to display captions/subtitles on YouTube.

Some of the issues discussed were the experience of black people during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) events including the impact and how they managed it, reflections on conversations held with black and white friends and acknowledgement that not all members of the black community necessarily hold the same opinion.

The panel members also talked about how they dealt with offensive comments and channelled their anger, the pulling down of the Edward Colston statue; what the term ‘white privilege’ meant and whether the use of terms such as ‘people of colour’ allowed the status quo to continue.

Watch the event in full, including the Q&A by following this link to YouTube.

The Panel

Donnell Asare (Guest Speaker)
Donnell is a Spoken Word Poet and a multimedia artist using, filmmaking, photography and graphic design to showcase his art.

He has several poetry short films and has been commissioned on various creative projects with organisations such as the BBC, Royal West of England Academy, The Tobacco Factory Theatres, GUAP Magazine and Rising Arts Agency – to name a few.

Donnell hopes to use his talents to encourage young people to seek out opportunities and pursue a career in the arts.

Elysse Lawrence (Guest Speaker)

“I’m born and bred in Birmingham and am currently a Psychology student at UWE. I am of Jamaican heritage. I have worked with Babbasa for about two years now.

“I started out initially as a youth ambassador taking part in “The Challenge” programme in our “Ask About Me?” event where we connected 100 employers in Bristol with 100 students. Now I’m a trailblazer, still working with Babbasa on personal projects.

“I’m also the CEO and Founder of The ELY Project; a company which aids and mentors BIPOC Psychology students from A-Level upwards who want to pursue a career in Psychology.

“I decided to accept this invitation to join the panel discussion because of the personal experiences I’ve had during the Black Lives Matter movement. As a black woman experiencing all that is going on in the world, it really took a toll on my mental health and opened my eyes to many people’s true opinions on racism.”

Rachel de Garang (Facilitator and Chair)

Rachel is the Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) Community Engagement Worker for the Voice and Influence Partnership which is led by The Care Forum.

She is also a Consultant, Trainer and Mentor, with expertise gained over 26 years working in the community and voluntary sector, specialising in Equality, Diversity and Cultural Awareness training for mainstream organisations. Alongside this she has maintained an exciting career in the Arts Sector, as a practitioner, producer, programmer and curator.

Black Lives Matter

We stand in solidarity with black people and all who are oppressed and discriminated against.

The Voice and Influence Partnership was set up to help give voice to some of the least heard people in Bristol, and the events of the last few weeks have felt monumental and as if lasting change could finally be happening.

The brutal and senseless killing of George Floyd and the many other lives lost in the USA and UK as a result of prejudice motivated by hate have resonated across the country.

Communities everywhere have raised their voices to say loudly and unequivocally that Black Lives Matter and that the time for change has come.

Here in Bristol, we saw one of the most visible expressions of the strength of feeling in the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston.

But to progress, we must stay focused on the main issue of systemic racism. The journey will need to be sustained and supported for it to be successful. That it will take society as a whole, not just the activists and the communities at the heart of the movement. That we will all need to step up, take action and take responsibility for where we go now, and who we choose to become as a nation.

VIP works with and represents a wide range of communities including, Black Asian and minority ethnic communities, people over 55, LGBTQ+, and disabled people, as well as people of faith. We know that oppression and discrimination have no boundaries and that to work together with a shared goal of equality is our greatest chance to create lasting change.

We hope this message can be the start of a conversation and over the next few weeks we will be reaching out to you directly and through the organisations that make up the Partnership to hear from you and let you know what we are doing.

If you have been affected in any way by hate crime, including any form of racism, you can report it to, and get support from, VIP Partner SARI – Stand Against Racism & Inequality.

Pete Clasby
VIP Project Manager

VIP Community Fund round one grants awarded

We have awarded four micro-grants of £250 each to Bristol-based community groups and organisations as part of our new VIP BME Community Fund.

The funding was available for work that supports one or more of Bristol’s diverse Black and Minority Ethnic communities. The first four awards went to:

  • Humanitarian Bristol – Diversify Food Project: The funding will help to buy cultural and religiously appropriate essential food items, including Halal & Kosher, to create food parcels for members of BME communities.
  • Sadaqa group – Health and Wellbeing at Sadaqa: Supporting single mothers to look after their own health and wellbeing, by reducing isolation and enabling access to group exercise sessions, the fund will help by covering the cost of a crèche.
  • Imayla CIC – Stepping out – explore together, share together, play together, grow ownership together: The fund will support the running of a monthly walk which enables families to connect with nature and take exercise but also go ‘outside of their comfort zone’ into areas of the city they would not normally visit.
  • St Werburgh’s Community Association – ‘Race – the Human Race: Producing an exhibition, online talks, and short publications and sharing stories from BME users. The fund will support the design & print costs for artwork/photos, which will be permanently displayed in one of their rooms.

A second round of the VIP BME Community Fund, offering four more micro-grants will take place in October 2020. People can sign up for free VIP Citizen Membership to be kept up to date with the Fund launch and other project news.

Rachel de Garang, Voice and Influence Partnership BME Engagement Worker said:

“We are excited to have launched the fund and to have had so many brilliant applications. We wanted to be able to provide funding that was available through a simple process without a lot of the conditions and requirements that can mean small community organisations or grassroots groups are blocked from applying.

“Although they are micro-grants what these groups can achieve with £250 is amazing and will directly benefit the communities they work with and support.”

Anira Khokhar at Humanitarian Bristol said:

“This money will go a long way to providing culturally appropriate foods for BME communities, either essential items or cooked food. It is important for their mental health and wellbeing to be able to create meals of their choice they would normally eat and feed their families.

“Demand is high, food is so expensive to buy, especially for bigger families, those that have been laid off from work or on furlough and their salaries have dropped.

“There is a serious demand for what we offer, so we are going to continue to see how we can source further funding and provide bespoke food parcels. “