Basingstoke MP Maria Miller chaired a virtual meeting of the Reference Group formed last December following the Results of the inquiry into the lived experiences of the BAME community in Basingstoke. The Purpose of the group is to monitor progress in the key areas highlighted in the Inquiry. The group will monitor the implementation of strategies and progress made by organisations. The Group will meet quarterly over the course of the year.
The members of the group are Chief Inspector Matt Reeves , District Commander Basingstoke Police, Shibaji Shrestha, Chair Basingstoke Multicultural Forum, Cllr Simon Bound ,Cllr Diane Taylor, Jane Rawlins-Mateus , Islam Jalaita representing Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council ,Karen Thomson Fujitsu UK, Effie Grant Basingstoke United Against Racism ,Arun Mummalaneni Basingstoke United Against Racism, Toju Ogbe, Grace Powell , Basingstoke Caribbean Society and Friends, Fiona Watton Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust ,Catherine Redgrave Hampshire County Council and Paul Jenkins Head Teacher Aldworth School.
The key issues raised in the Inquiry were;
* The need for the community to challenge the status quo. There was a clear plea to the wider community: "If you are a witness to racism you should respectfully call it out".
* Ensuring a strong Basingstoke Civic life by better reflecting the diversity of Basingstoke's community in its civic events and in elected bodies that make decisions on the provision of important local services, such as Parish Councils, the Borough Council and County Council.
* Ensuring that public service providers' policies challenge and change racist and discriminatory behaviour in practice, particularly in vital public services such as education, where parents have identified a weak response to racial abuse despite a requirement for all schools to have bullying and discrimination policies. A low level of ethnic diversity in teaching staff at all levels is also out of kilter with the local community throughout the County.
* Racism in the workplace was the most acute concern for many groups. The Inquiry found that people of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds were faced with a range of challenges because of their ethnicity, ranging from discrimination from customers towards staff (and vice versa); ineffective policies for promoting and mentoring BAME employees; and a lack of trust for organisations to meaningfully tackle inequalities and racist behaviour when it occurred. A lack of diversity in senior management was cited as unhelpful in tackling these matters.
Maria Miller Commented; “ I am delighted that we have such a range of organisations involved in the Reference group. We have good representation from major employers such as the Hospital and Fujitsu , BAME communities, and Public service providers the Police, the Borough Council and the Education Sector. The group will monitor progress in the key aeras that the Inquiry highlighted.”
“Basingstoke is no different to other towns in England when it comes to issues of race and racism. But as well as protesting for race equality, we now have an opportunity to take real action. We have had the confidence to ask whether there is more we can do ourselves. And the answer is firmly yes.
‘I want Basingstoke to be a great place to live, for everyone regardless of their ethnicity, so I will hold an update with the relevant public services and organisations in the Spring. In the meantime, I will continue to work to help ensure that the issues raised are taken forward, to make our community fairer and more equal for all.’