Real action: what next in responding to the Black Lives Matter movement

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Real action: what next in responding to the Black Lives Matter movement

When I wrote to every Unlocked participant, Ambassador and staff member after the killing of George Floyd, I asked for their honest feedback and help. It is awful that it took this tragic incident to prompt so many organisations to reflect in this way, and it is important that it doesn’t get forgotten as the news cycle changes.

The response I got to my request was what I expected from this particular cohort of people: it was challenging, thoughtful and detailed.

Although race and racism in the prison service is an issue we have always spoken a lot about here at Unlocked, the focus groups, emails, calls and meetings I’ve had over the last few weeks have tapped a deep well with people feeling freer to speak and speak more honestly than ever before.

We already knew there was action we needed to take, but I wanted to ensure this was not lip-service but rather a clear plan of action, informed by the frontline of our organisation. I am currently in the process of writing up the huge range of ideas and views shared by prison officers and other colleagues into this action plan.

We will be sharing the targets we set so that we can be held to account on reaching them.

The particular challenge of racism and inequality in the criminal justice sector, and especially in prisons, will be the focus of this action plan. But we are not just a criminal justice organisation. We are also a charity.

The third sector has a substantial problem with racial diversity. That is why one immediate commitment I am making is to sign-up to ACEVO and Institute of Fundraising’s racial diversity principles for civil society leaders. These principles will be embedded in our action plan to ensure that we are thinking not just about affecting change through our charitable activities but also how we need to build diversity into the bones of our organisation.