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A letter to our communities – Black Lives Matter

To members of our communities in Birmingham and Shropshire,

You may be wondering why you haven’t heard from Bournville Village Trust about Black Lives Matter protests and the dialogue around this until today. We wanted to have some time to honestly reflect on what this really means. We appreciate though the time it has taken us to think about what we wanted to say may be seen as inaction and we hope that you can understand the need for us to pause and prepare a considered response.

The tragic death of George Floyd has triggered anger, upset and protest on a global scale. What is happening right now has held a mirror up to the presence of racism and inequality in our society, which includes BVT. However, it shouldn’t have taken Black Lives Matter protests and the death of George Floyd to do that. There are some difficult and deep rooted issues about racism and equality that we are globally and locally failing to address. This period of time is another opportunity for us to really understand and do better.

Sadly George Floyd is by no means the first high profile death that has triggered global conversations about racism in our society. Many of you will remember the tragic murder of Stephen Lawrence. That event led to a host of projects, programmes, commissions and reports all designed to make our institutions less racist. However, 27 years on from Stephen Lawrence’s death evidence tells us that little if any progress has been made.

Racism and intolerance is unacceptable both within Bournville Village Trust and our communities but it is not enough for us to simply say that we are anti-racism. We need to take action and make progress. Bournville Village Trust believes that we will start to do this through open and honest dialogue with members of our communities, our staff and our stakeholders.

We need to understand where we are falling down, why a lack of progress has been made and what we need to do to ensure current and future generations are fairer and more equitable. If we are going to make genuine and long-lasting progress this work needs to be done not just within Bournville Village Trust but within the communities we work.

In January we launched our new corporate plan and one of the central themes of our revised approach is our pledge to be guided by fairness and integrity. We have also started to talk about how we could do more to promote inclusion inside the organisation. However, the difficult but honest reality is that so far we have had little, if any, specific dialogue about race inequalities and the need to recognise that the structures and culture that we as an organisation operate in can and do serve to support and exacerbate these.

We have a powerful opportunity at BVT to create a space for dialogue on racism and race inequalities, discuss some of the deep rooted structures we operate in that promote inequalities and listen, learn and take intentional action against racism in all its forms.

This will not be easy and it will not be quick, but this is work that needs to be done and will be a part of our commitment to equality in all areas of Bournville Village Trust’s work.

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