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Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

Feb 12, 2014 - Comments: 0
Black inmates - social mobility, aspirations and community

Most mornings I jog to work down the busy north London roads of Archway, Holloway Road and Caledonian Road to BTEG’s office in Kings Cross. Along the `Cally Road’ (as it’s known by to the locals) is one of London’s oldest prisons, Pentonville, which was opened in 1842 and houses around 1300 inmates.

My work at BTEG revolves around the justice/penal system and the over-representation of BAME groups within our jails and on the wrong side of the justice system. Running past one of London’s Victorian landmark jails often triggers thoughts of the lives caught up inside and what can be done to keep young people and particularly BAME young people out of these places.

Last November, I was lucky enough to be invited to a challenging debate on social mobility, aspirations and community organised by inmates of HMP Pentonville.

Over 40 inmates attended the debate in the prison library and the level of questions from them was extremely high and perceptive. I was humbled to be part of an auspicious panel of high-achieving people which included journalist Hugh Muir, musician and poet Andrew Ward and broadcaster and social entrepreneur Ricoh Edwards-Brown.

For me, if you are looking at issues of social mobility, inequality has to be mentioned. On all the indicators the UK is becoming a more unequal society and this is hampering social mobility generally compared with other western countries. But for the black community, I suggested, the lack of social mobility was becoming more entrenched, systematic and perversely invisible.

When forces such as discrimination, poverty, widening inequality and, what I would call, institutional inertia on the challenges combine, things can be difficult to change. But the panel members all gave uplifting analyses and personal testimonies to the power of personal change.

Change from within has to be accompanied by wider change in society; as Martin Luther King said `injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ In our sometimes apathetic times, it’s a quote that should rouse our passion. Mine was certainly roused by the intellect of the inmates.

I was delighted to give my copy of the Spirit Level – the landmark book by Professor Richard Wilkinson and Dr Kate Pickett which led to the development of the Equality Trust (read more here) - to the event chair Peter, a prisoner in Pentonville. He told me he writes and hopefully one day we will see his words in print.

You can read more about the debate on the Prison Education Trust site here

Are you positive about your self-image?

Feb 12, 2014 - Comments: 0

What does self-image mean to you:

  • What others think of you?
  • What you have achieved or not achieved?
  • What you see when you look in the mirror?

I guess everyone has their own definition of what self-image means to them.

Having worked with young people in a pastoral capacity for over seven years and from attending a Routes2Success session on Friday, I have found that most young people base their perceptions of themselves on what others’ think of them. The thoughts and feelings of others towards young people make them either feel positive or negative about themselves.

Interestingly enough on Friday, when a group of young black boys was asked whether they had a positive self-image about themselves, the few that put their hands up to say they didn’t referred to the fact that they got into trouble at school a lot and now had a reputation. This made them feel like they had a negative self-image. Their self-image was based on what others tended to say about them or thought about them, rather than what they thought about themselves.

Of course, it is always important to think about and consider what other people say about you, but at the same time it is important for us to be positive about ourselves. If you can’t say one positive thing about yourself, how can others see the positive in you?

A definition of self-image “is a person’s mental picture of themselves in terms of both their physicality and personality. It’s a combination of someone’s thoughts about what they think they look like, how they see their personality, their beliefs on what others think of them, how much they like themselves and how they see and feel about their status in life.” which is said to link closely to one’s self-esteem.

What concerns me particularly with some young black males is that stereotypes lead them to constantly have a poor self-image which leads to low self-esteem which further leads to low aspirations. If the perception of others’ makes up part of how you feel about yourself then some black boys, based on media stereotypes and statistics, are going to have quite a negative self-image.

This somewhat pains me, which is why I believe the work that the Routes2Success role models do is not only important but necessary to help instil a positive self-image to black boys and help them to raise their aspirations.

What I took away from the session on Friday, and from the feedback from some of the boys at the school, is that self-image is not only about what others think of you, but also about how much you like yourself and see your own potential.

So, what do you think about yourself?

Read more about promoting a positive self-image here

Inclusive Growth and Enterprise – Join the Debate and Share Ideas on 12 Feb 2014

Jan 29, 2014 - Comments: 0

As the UK economy emerges from the deepest recession since the 1930s, the debate is shifting onto the nature of that growth. London as a global city is the driving force for the national economy but it also remains a divided city with the fortunes of people and places intertwined. Many young people from a range of backgrounds are trapped by unemployment and underemployment. According to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission “disadvantage and advantage cascade down the generations”.

So is the die cast for many disadvantaged young people or can they play a role in their own destiny? Is it time to put entrepreneurship on the map alongside other measures to promote mobility? Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has argued that economic opportunity now needs to be the next frontier for race equality. So what is the realistic opportunity to scale up entrepreneurship amongst young adults - who may not only lack financial capital and business acumen but also social capital? And with technology and changing consumer habits driving a retail revolution, is this once a natural route into business in free fall?

Join us at the launch of the BTEG’s Opening Doors Enterprise Programme to discuss these issues. The event is taking place on 12th February 2014 from 3.00pm to 6.00pm at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, 748 High Rd, Tottenham, London N17 0AP. There is an excellent line of speakers and you can immediately book a place here.

Raj Patel, MBE

Programme Director (interim)

Opening Doors Network: Enterprise Programme

Equality, racism and BME Sector Leadership: Crises or opportunity for revitalisation?

Dec 10, 2013 - Comments: 0

The 1960s, 70s and 80s was a tough place to be an ethnic minority in Britain. Racial tensions, high unemployment, poor housing, inner city deprivation and stop and search “sus laws” saw riots erupt across a number of cities. It was also the period which saw a generation of Black and Asian young people become activists and organisations sprung up across the country to serve the needs of BAME communities, highlight their plight and promote race equality. But is the BAME voluntary sector now in crises at a time when race and immigration are the second highest issue of public concern after the economy?

With integration better than most places in the world, there is a great deal to be positive about race relations in Britain. However, according to a BBC report in 2012, nearly 88,000 racist incidents were recorded in Britain's schools between 2007 and 2011. Data from 90 areas showed 87,915 cases of racist bullying, with Birmingham recording the highest number of incidents at 5,752, followed by Leeds with 4,690. Carmarthenshire had the lowest number with just 5 cases. Many areas including Luton, Oldham, Croydon, Bedford and Middlesbrough saw an increase of 40% or more over the period 2007/08 to 2009/10, whilst in Cardiff, there was a 32% increase in cases of racism in schools.

Not surprisingly, some commentators believe that racism is on the rise again in Britain, and the tragic and violent death of Bijan Ebrahimi is a stark reminder that hard won gains can be lost without constant vigilance and new ways to catalyse positive social change.

Austerity measures, though, have dramatically reduced the capacity of the BAME voluntary sector to hold the Government and other institutions to account, stimulate evidence-based debate, provide practical help to individuals and promote fairness. Area-based initiatives, which sustained many local organisations, have been all but dismantled. According to new research by the Third Sector Research Centre, managers and employees in BAME organisations feel their work is less valued than previously in the current political context. Faith groups on the other have been thriving in many communities.

So does the BAME sector have to offer anything distinctive in the 21st century? Many have struggled to compete in contract and service driven markets, unable to provide economies of scale or adequately differentiate their activities. Those engaged in advocacy have done so on the back of support for service delivery. Yet, whilst service provision might not necessarily offer a differentiator for some organisations, advocacy clearly can.

But scaling up advocacy is not straightforward and requires some creative thinking by the sector. It is profoundly very different from service delivery, particularly in terms of securing outcomes. Services can generate atomised and measureable successes but “in advocacy well designed efforts often fail, scaled-up efforts often have no more success than smaller ones, and replication of previously successful models doesn’t always lead to success” (Teles and Schmitt, 2011).

One of the big challenges facing the BAME sector is also a generational one. How do 2nd and 3rd generation young people perceive and think about racism and equality today? Is there a critical mass of young people picking up the mantle of championing economic and social justice?

Each generation needs to define its own challenges, and maybe if there is a lasting legacy from the struggles of the 1960s and 1970s and the subsequent progress, it is to ensure that a generation with new ideas and energy picks up the baton. And from the ‘click to change the world’ generation, we may just see the revitalisation of the BAME sector – and probably not as we currently know it.

This Message Is For Young Black Men Of African, Caribbean And Mixed Origin Aged 16-25 Years Of Age

Sep 09, 2013 - Comments: 0

Join us at the BEX Live Routes2Success Future Entrepreneurs Workshop 11am-1pm Saturday

21st September, Birmingham Town Hall

My charity, the Black Training and Enterprise Group, cares about the future of all young people in this country because young people deserve to have opportunities to fulfil their potential and develop their talents. The statistics show that the chances of young black men being successful in education and employment are not high compared to other groups of people. There are more young black men unemployed than employed. This is wrong but how do we change this situation and what can you do to help yourself?

President Obama recently said that young black men are ‘painted with a broad brush’ compared to other young men in America. This portrayal of young black men links to drugs and crime, unemployment and aggression. The negative stereotypes of young black men impact on their job prospects - what do you think?

In our country young black men find it harder to get work; are more likely to be stopped and search and to end up in prison. Hard working young black men have told me they don’t want to be another ‘statistic’.

You may fit into one of four situations at the moment:

  • At 6th form, college or university
  • At work (hopefully with good prospects and receiving further training .e.g.an apprenticeship)
  • Not in employment, education or training (NEET) or
  • Looking for work or planning to start your own business.

If you are studying and have a clear career goal in mind - well done. Keep working hard and think about joining our Routes2Success (R2S) network. Just make sure you are taking the right subjects and courses to get to your chosen destination. Do you know someone in the occupation that you plan to enter who can give you some useful advice?

If you are frustrated with your situation; have been in the criminal justice system or are just are not sure what to do to get to the next level, then get involved with Routes2Success. Now is the time to do something different to help yourself. Many young black men do succeed, so there is nothing to stop you succeeding - except yourself. Some people may want to hold you back but no matter how difficult your situation is there will be choices for you to take - make the best choices for you.

There is no quick fix. You are going to have to make the effort and put in the hard work. Everyone has something to offer - ideas, commitment, knowledge, personality, communication skills, integrity and willingness to learn. What do you have to offer?

My charity wants to work with you and help you to network with successful people. We now have a volunteer force of successful black men that want to connect with you. They want to inspire you to do the very best for yourself by sharing their experiences of work and business. These role models have been chosen by young black men. We believe it’s time to invest in talented young black men. Remember - we just want you to be successful at whatever you choose to do.

Come and meet successful entrepreneurs and share your ideas at our R2S networking event. We also want to hear about what you want to do with your life chances. All you have to do is book a place and come along http://blackexposurelive.co.uk/routes-2-success/. You will not be disappointed.

Routes2Success recruits 20 volunteer role models

Aug 30, 2013
Routes2Success recruits 20 volunteer role models and begins to engage with local organisations across the UK to inspire young Black males of African, Caribbean and Mixed origin
Jamie Rodney & Anthony Henry (R2S Role Models)

Jamie Rodney & Anthony Henry (R2S Role Models)

The Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) is delighted to announce that we have now recruited 20 enthusiastic, motivated and successful black professional men across the UK who are willing to commit and volunteer their time to make a difference to the next generation. We are hoping to attract more attention from even more successful black men who will come on board as a Routes2Success role model.

On Saturday 29th June 2013, we held our first Role Model Induction Training Day, it was a very successful day with many of the role models leaving feeling ready to inspire the next generation.

Feedback was very positive from the event and we are hoping to induct our second batch of role models in September.

The second R2S Role Model Recruitment event hosted by BTEG at The Drum in Birmingham on Monday 8th July 2013, the event entitled ‘You can make a difference to the future of young black males’ was a another successful evening with many of the successful black professional men wanting to engage with the programme.

BTEG have now been engaging with local and statutory organisations who work with young black males between the ages of 11-25, so that they can use R2S role models to go out and inspire them to reach their full potential in education, employment and entrepreneurship. It is refreshing and encouraging to see the responses flooding in from local youth groups in boroughs across London and areas in England such as Liverpool; as well as Young Offender Institutions and Children’s Homes who want to engage in the Routes2Success Programme in order to help young black men that they work with. If you are a local organisation that wants to be a part of the programme please get in touch!

We are taking part in Birmingham’s BEX Live event on Saturday 21st September 2013, at Birmingham Town Hall. BTEG are giving young black men (aged 16-25) the opportunity to meet three successful entrepreneurs through the Routes2Success programme who will inspire them, give them advice and tips about how to start up and run a successful business and even give them the opportunity to pitch their own business ideas. Also, look out for up and coming events for Black History Month featuring BTEG’s R2S role models in London and Manchester.

Young people need to have aims

Mar 25, 2013 - Comments: 0

Aspirations, desires or ambitions are essential for the direction that young people take their lives.  Young people need to have aims which will guide them on their educational and career paths. The lack of suitable aspirations is an important factor in the under-representation of BAME young people in desirable and well-rewarded jobs.

BAME voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises have a long track record of helping young people to realise their full potential. As community leaders and parents we want young people to make the fullest use of their capabilities, but for some reason, there is still a distinct lack of progression on the social mobility ladder.

Is what we are offering as a sector still appropriate to what BAME young people need and want? Are we listening to the real issues stifling their progression? Are BAME organisations equipped to manage this change?

Many funders rightly want to see young people shaping provision. Importantly young people hold a wide range of views about how much emphasis to place on ethnicity – some see place and deprivation as bigger determinants of future opportunities. The issue is complex but we have to listen to their views and work together to develop and improve our provision.

BTEG has been exploring these issues from an organisational perspective but also the young person’s view point with a focus on education, employment and enterprise. We need to dig deeper and so we have put together a free event - Knowing the Needs. Providing the Services – that will explore these issues in detail. For more information click here

Police & Crime Commissioners: update for the sector

Sep 05, 2012 - Comments: 0

A full list of confirmed candidates so far standing for PCC elections is available at the Police Foundation website. Go to http://www.police-foundation.org.uk/news/23/26/PCC-candidates---latest-d... to track candidates for your area.

Nominations close on 19th October 2012 and elections will be held on 15th of November 2012. Voters must be registered by 31st October to exercise their vote for the PCC elections.

In July 2012, the government released £2.6 million to help disabled people overcome barriers to becoming elected officials. The 10 million disabled people in the UK are under-represented in public life and this is an attempt to level the playing field. The fund will help meet additional costs such as extra transport or sign-language interpreters. Offers of individual grants between £250 and £10,000 will be made available to disabled people who want to be selected as candidates for PCC election. An online training package developed by BYG Systems Ltd. (http://bit.ly/RH1J5R ) covers how to become an elected representative, communications skills and working with the public and media. Both the fund and the training are part of the government’s access to elected office strategy.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Panel was formed in July 2012 and its first elected Chair is the Leader of Sandwell MBC, Councillor Darren Cooper. The PCP is now looking to co-opt two independent members. Further information available here http://bit.ly/Q2NYiL

There are several opportunities for a range of BAME-led voluntary sector organisations to influence their PCCs: It important to understand the links between health and crime. It is estimated that 90% of offenders have mental health problems and 44% of violent crime is alcohol related. Health and Wellbeing boards will be important partners to PCCs, and through Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) and the Joint Health and Well-being Strategies (JHWSs) will influence the commissioning of local health and care services. Through the PCC Office the Local Community Safety Fund will be used to co-commission initiatives that tackle drugs problems, reducing re-offending and community safety. The BAME-led voluntary sector organisations has an opportunity to influence PCCs and ensure that the health and crime related needs of BAME groups are understood.

A selection of PCC events for the sector include:

19th September A PCC event for women’s organisations based in the South- East and London areas, organised by Eaves: http://bit.ly/Pyi79q

26th September Voluntary Action Leeds http://bit.ly/TXerPA

18th October Police and Crime Commissioner Question Time, organised by Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum http://bit.ly/TWaMBw

The BAME sector and the media - be prepared for the attention!

Aug 07, 2012 - Comments: 0

The black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) voluntary and community sector struggles to influence the national media. On the rare occasions when we do have some success we are often unprepared for the media interest. A recent example for BTEG was a speech made by Nick Clegg which pointed to racial bias in banking (evidence for this was taken from a BTEG publication). We received up to 10 calls from the national media in one morning and appeared on radio and TV the same day. Nearly all of the journalists wanted to speak to individuals that had experienced discrimination when applying for a loan from the bank. This proved very difficult to arrange and BTEG was simply not prepared for the media interest. In future, the BAME sector needs to be proactive and work together. .

BTEG has sent out many press releases over the past 20 years on unemployment, young people, educational attainment and parents. We do need to work together to improve our ability to get our message (the need to tackle growing race inequalities) across effectively. Perhaps the one area we can improve is to develop an evidence base to demonstrate how racism manifests itself in our every day experiences. We think we have to be systematic about this and produce a robust library of case studies. You will know from your own experience that journalists often connect more with individual stories rather than statistics showing long standing racial disadvantage.

BTEG has started to develop a small library of case studies and developed a case study proforma to be circulated to appropriate users, to a mix of people from our communities in terms of gender, faith and disability who are willing to speak to the media, if necessary. We are happy to share the template and our experiences in collecting case studies:

http://www.bteg.co.uk/index.php/Downloads/Organisational-Development/Cas...

BTEG is not the only organisation to stress the need for and collect evidence in order to make our case stronger. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community is calling for written evidence for its inquiry into ethnic minority female unemployment.

I think this is very important for our communities and our organisations. Please contact BTEG if you have evidence to share or would like to discuss this with me or with any of my colleagues.

"Blind marking" urged to raise exam score of pupils from ethnic minorities

Jul 31, 2012 - Comments: 0

Interesting article Sunday's Observer that says:

Ministers are seeking to introduce "blind marking" of pupils' schoolwork by teachers as part of a push to tackle a history of underachievement among black and ethnic minority groups, while banks will be required to carry out ethnic monitoring of people to whom they lend money.

The article - which quotes BTEG reseach - can be read in full here http://bit.ly/OBmFxa

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