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Redthread’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Statement

July 29th, 2020

Redthread’s CEO, John Poyton, reflects on what we’ve learned and how we move forward in tackling racial inequality.

Redthread believes that Black Lives Matter. I believe that Black Lives Matter.

At Redthread, we have long been aware of the systemic inequalities that blight our society. Our everyday work brings us face-to-face with health inequalities caused by entrenched systems of oppression, exploitation, power and privilege, and we have always been committed to supporting young people to overcome barriers put in place by these systems. Our youth work teams actively address these barriers every day as they walk with young people through adversity, but in the past, Redthread as an organisation has been hesitant to highlight the impact of institutional racism on the young people we support, for fear of getting it wrong, or of inadvertently feeding into unhelpful narratives and harmful stereotypes about young people and violence.

It is now clear to us that it is not enough for Redthread to be non-racist in our day-to-day work and to remain silent on issues of racial inequality on our broader platform. We owe it to our staff, our young people, and to wider society to commit to actively challenging racist structures. We want to apologise for getting things wrong and tell you that we promise to do better. Now, and moving forward, we will strengthen our commitment to anti-racism.

Equity, diversity and inclusion have always been a priority for Redthread, however the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement has prompted us to reflect more extensively on what actions we need to take next. We have tried to avoid reacting in a tokenistic or performative way, and instead have been considering how we can drive and sustain meaningful change.

These are the steps we have taken so far and our initial plans:

  • We are prioritising listening to, learning from, and holding space for our Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues, recognising that many have experienced emotional exhaustion, pain and trauma in the past and continue to do so in their daily lives. We have established a safe space forum which will be held on a monthly basis, to give Black, Asian and minority ethnic members of our team an opportunity to discuss shared experiences and support one another. We hope this forum will also help shape Redthread’s journey to becoming anti-racist through offering critique, comments and ideas.
  • We have appointed an external EDI consultant who is working with our senior management and wider staff team to facilitate and co-create our approach, and our equity, diversity and inclusion policy and action plan. We’ve created space for every member of staff to take part in conversations about race, racism and unconscious bias and we’re working on how to continue these so that everyone has an opportunity to listen to and learn from each other.
  • We will continue to review our recruitment and retention processes, our pay, the language we use, and our internal policies and practice. We want to maximise opportunities for increasing diversity of backgrounds, experience and perspective in our head office and frontline teams, and we are considering what role we can play to create more equity and representation within the wider charity sector.
  • We acknowledge that our senior management team lacks diversity. As a team, we are dedicated to ensuring that we create opportunities to share our platform and our power with Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff, and to re-balancing the team wherever we can. Each member of the senior management team is making a commitment to widening their individual and collective understanding by reading research and reports, listening to and learning from our staff and young people, and valuing the lived experience of our Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff in the decisions we take and the changes we make.
  • While our delivery focuses on teachable moment interventions with individuals, we know that empowering young people to make positive change in their lives does not happen in isolation; systemic factors play into their journey every step of the way. Although our policy work has always looked to highlight this, going forward we will seek to use our seat at the table to address not only the acute support young people need to thrive, but the systemic changes needed to improve the lives of young Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in the UK.
  • We will hold ourselves accountable and invite scrutiny, from within and outside of our organisation. We will create an EDI working group, made up of representatives from across the organisation, in order to co-create change. We’re thinking carefully about how to do this in a way that is not tokenistic, and that does not put a disproportionate burden on our Black, Asian and minority ethic staff. We’re also exploring other proposals for accountability, and we will update on our progress regularly.

We are taking these steps to ensure that Redthread is a safe, supportive and equitable place to work for Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues, but we know this is just the beginning. To truly deliver our mission, we need to look beyond our own organisation and consider our role in wider systemic change. We know we need to use our influence to actively challenge structures of power and privilege.

We don’t yet have all the answers: we’re still trying to identify what success will look like, how we’ll measure our progress and the work still left to do. We commit to being teachable as we go through this journey, and to upholding our values – of compassion, collaboration, courage, empowerment and dynamism. We will do better.

John Poyton, CEO Redthread

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