UN Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination - 21 March

Racial discrimination is a global problem that exists internationally, in the UK and in Cumbria. COVID-19 has demonstrated the stark race inequalities that continue to exist and the need for public organisations to do all they can to address discrimination.

To mark UN Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination we wish to:

  • Affirm our commitment to race equality and anti-racism;
  • Set out how our commitment links to our Equality Objectives for 2020-24;
  • Highlight some of the work we have been doing to promote race equality;
  • Support countywide organisations promoting race equality and anti-racism.

As a local authority we have a particular role to play in demonstrating community leadership. This means:

  • Promoting equality across all our services, our relations with communities and in our role as a major employer;
  • Strongly condemning all forms of racism, hate and discrimination, as well as any bullying and harassment targeting people of any particular racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, and nationality;
  • Sharing best practice on race equality and working with our partners in the public sector, the community and the wider society.

This means we are:

  • Open and responsible - acknowledging our starting points, being held to account and enabling broader community dialogue on race equality;
  • Strong allies - calling out racism in all its forms and using the means at our disposal to raise awareness, tackle hate crime and foster good community relations;
  • Advocates for systemic change - recognise that racial discrimination sits within other inequalities - not least poverty; understand the role of institutions in enabling change or putting up barriers;
  • Proactive with communities and our workforce - supporting those with a life experience of racial discrimination to be shaping our activity;

Our commitment to race equality and anti-racism sits within a broader Equalities framework set out in the following objectives. These relate to:

  • Services and partnerships having clear information about Cumbria's diversity profile to inform public services; 
  • People who have an experience of discrimination being involved in shaping public policy in Cumbria;
  • Commissioning and prevention work tackling structural inequalities; 
  • Employment outcomes demonstrating the benefits of a proactive approach to Equalities;
  • COVID-19 recovery actively addressing structural inequalities, including those caused by socio-economic inequality

  • Anti-racism project with schools: Endorsing the work Anti Racist Cumbria are doing within the county's school system; 
  • Black Histories Matter: Each year our Library and Archives Service works with local community groups to develop programmes for BLM each October, 2020's theme was Black Historyies Matter;
  • Community Integration: We just finished a programme to develop community integration activities in areas with the highest concentrations of migrants and are evaluating it to look at how we embed it in our community grants programme;
  • Culture change: Race Equality Staff Network is working with our People Management Team to raise internal organisational awareness of race equality and anti-racism, including this statement; we have also changed our Equality training to strengthen staff awareness of race equality and made it mandatory; we will also be designing new equality training for our elected Members;
  • Active Cumbria: Working a project to embed Sports England's national race equality standards across all physical activity programmes;

In 2021 Cumbria Race Equality Network was established to provide space for different race equality and anti-racist projects to come together with organisations such as the County Council.

Stewart Young - Leader Cumbria County Council

We know sadly that every year several members of the racial and ethnic minorities are subject to harassment, violence and hate crime, both online and offline. We also know that some members of the racial and ethnic minorities face structural barriers in accessing services, due to capacity issues or a lack of intercultural understanding of needs and aspirations in areas including housing, health and social care, employment, training, apprenticeships and education.

Katherine Fairclough - Chief Executive Officer Cumbria County Council

We are mindful of the need for public sector institutions to take concrete steps to address structural inequalities and underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minority groups within its structures and take positive actions to remove any actual or perceived barriers for advancing race equality and fostering good relations.

John Beard - Chief Fire Officer

It is our commitment to protect and safeguard all of our employees and people within our communities from Racial Discrimination and physical or verbal violence or aggression. It is a key priority of the Service to raise awareness and enhance society's understanding of Racial Discrimination and challenge inequality. We are committed to embracing diversity and inclusion and we look to celebrate the diverse make up of Cumbria.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service will not tolerate any form of physical or verbal violence or aggression or Racial Discrimination. We encourage our staff to report any incidents and crimes and are keen for these to be reported at the earliest opportunity.

We promote a zero-tolerance approach to Racial Discrimination and any incidents of it may lead to action being taken against the perpetrator.

Aftab Khan - Chair, Cumbria County Council Race Equality Staff Network

The fight against racism, racial inequalities and discrimination in our societies needs to be stepped up and is a shared responsibility; whereas all organisation in public, private and voluntary sector needs to urgently reflect on and commit to tackling the structural inequalities, racism and discrimination faced by many minority groups.

Marcia Reid Fotheringham - Co-chair of Cumbria Race Equality Network

The Cumbria Race Equality Network is pleased to join with Cumbria County Council as they raise awareness across Cumbria of the importance of the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21st March 2021. While many assume there is little need to still focus on racial equality, it is clear that, in Cumbria, the goal of racial fairness and justice has not yet been achieved. Cumbria Race Equality Network (a leadership group) highlights racial (and other) injustices and holds people and organisations to account. We also acknowledge examples of good practice in this regard. While Cumbria is becoming more and more diverse, our diversity must be better valued. Racial intolerance must not be accepted in our families, social groups, workplaces or anywhere in our county.

Guy Tirvengadum - Co-chair of Cumbria Race Equality Network and AWAZ Cumbria

AWAZ Cumbria came into existence to be voice of the under-represented minority ethnic population living, working and visiting Cumbria. Unfortunately, we continue to see racism and racial inequality throughout Cumbria. Therefore, we are joining with the Cumbria County Council as they raise awareness of the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21st 2021. There is a lot to do to eliminate racism and tackle inequality in Cumbria and we fully support the commitment which the Cumbria County Council are making to tackle these issues which will ultimately make Cumbria a place where everyone is welcome,  are free to be themselves and where we can all live and work together in peace and harmony.

Janett Walker - Chair, Anti Racist Cumbria

Our aim is simple; to become the UK's first actively anti-racist county. We continue to work towards that aim through real action and education. We hold organisations, sectors and those in positions of influence and power accountable until that aim is reached.

Saj Ghafoor - Chief Officer, Multi-Cultural Cumbria

Multicultural Cumbria is community led, committed to listening and working with the local and multicultural diaspora communities in a collorative manner, to eliminate inequalities and discrimination when living and working in Cumbria. We do this by enabling, empowering and engaging people through four main programme areas: Social, Cultural, Education and Health & Wellbeing to promote equality and integration by building a sense of belonging and acceptance for all that is paramount for community cohesion. Our projects are a result of community ideas, conversations and lived experiences to maximise community ownership and respected identities, with origins that go back to 2007.