Black Lives Matter in Lewisham
Lewisham prides itself as being an open borough that celebrates our diversity and has a history of standing up against racism. We know many residents, like us, will have been appalled at the videos from the United States of the killing of George Floyd.
Racism and racial inequalities are not just an ‘American problem’. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) inequalities are endemic in the UK too. We have been shocked by images of police using excessive force to arrest black people in Lewisham in recent weeks and we have been meeting with the police to ensure these instances are investigated, and that we receive information, by ethnicity, relating to the increase of stop and search during lockdown.
Racism exists in many parts of society including in the criminal justice system, access to jobs, in the education system and in health too. COVID-19 has highlighted the disparity in health outcomes for BAME people – but it is important to remember that BAME health inequalities don’t end at COVID-19, they stretch across many aspect of our healthcare
This isn’t news to us in Lewisham and we have been working over many years to reduce inequality and injustice for all groups.
BAME health inequalities have been set as a priority for our Health and Wellbeing Board and last month we launched a ground-breaking joint review with Birmingham City Council to explore black African and Caribbean health inequalities in both of our communities.
In education we have been working with schools, with some success, to reduce the gaps between Black Caribbean young people and other groups and the majority of participants on our well established Mayor’s Apprenticeship Programme are from BAME backgrounds.
And in our own Council we have re-established our BAME Professional Network staff forum and are launching a BAME leadership programme to find the next generation of leaders from our diverse and talented workforce.
But there is a still a huge amount to do, and we won’t rest and stop taking action while inequalities exist.
Fortunately, we know we live in a community where our residents share our values and support us taking targeted actions. But we won’t be able to meet the challenges we face alone and we will be pressing the Government to make sure we have the support and resources we need, and that they too take issues of racial inequality in our country forward urgently.
This week we lit our Town Hall in purple as our small way of not just remembering George Floyd, but to send the clear message to all our residents that we stand in solidarity with them against racism in all its forms.
Black Lives Matter in Lewisham, today and always.
Mayor of Lewisham