#BlackLivesMatter – on calling out and calls to action

I’ve been called out a few times over the last couple of weeks about Platfform’s public support (or lack of it) in relation to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the murder of George Floyd and growing debate around the absence of black history being taught or being visible in the UK, indeed the world; the deep rooted structural racism that still exists in this country and; in relation to our work in mental health specifically the fact that whilst some BAME people – namely Afro Caribbean men –  find themselves disproportionately caught up in the mental health system often through the criminal justice root, others find themselves unable to access appropriate support through the total absence of culturally appropriate mental health provision.

Thank you to my ‘caller outers’ you know who you are, you are right, and I appreciate the challenge. I can’t write blogs about calling myself and others out and not expect the same for myself. You are all Twitter folk so I am sure this blog will find you.

I made a mistake in Platfform not coming out publicly and immediately in support of #BlackLivesMatter. We stand alongside as active allies and we always will.  We will do everything we can in our work to fight against racism, discrimination, and inequality at all levels of society. We recognise that we have a lot to do inside Platfform to be better ourselves.

My rationale, for what it is worth – I am not a fan of grand gestures that make good soundbites but are often meaningless. But I completely understand that silence can be deafening, speak volumes and imply complicity; in this case silence wasn’t the right move. In the days following George Floyd’s murder it felt important to hold a mirror up to ourselves at Platfform, acknowledge what we need to change, and for every person in Platfform to be part of the conversation and action to change this, forever. The change needs to be meaningful, sustainable, deep rooted and systemic.  It’s not a quick social media statement, share or hashtag. That felt devoid of true meaning in that moment.  Culture change takes time, but we will drive this change forward at the pace and we will hold ourselves accountable.

So what are we doing?

  • We have kicked off a whole organisation, action focused conversation – I want this stuff hardwired into everyone’s minds and I want our actions to be gathered in part, from people across the whole of Platfform and owned by us all.  This is not a laborious twelve-month piece of work that never goes anywhere – this is fast paced, action focused and will be completed in a matter of weeks.
  • We are connecting with, talking with, and more importantly listening to BAME communities, groups and organisations to understand where there are opportunities for coming together, doing more and being better.  I hope we can announce meaningful collaborations and partnerships as part of our action plan.
  • We are getting underneath our diversity data, asking questions and formulating actions.
  • We are working with mental health third sector colleagues in raising the issue of BAME mental health and the impact of Covid with Welsh Government officials and Ministers to ensure great attention is paid and more urgent action agreed.
  • We are acknowledging our whiteness, acknowledging that this is not ok and that it is a barrier – we are collaborating on what we need to do to change this. And we are committed to authentic allyship.
  • We will publish our action plan and we will report against it, this is not a flash in the pan for us and it will not fade even if the high profile media coverage of BLM does.
  • We stand with and alongside and we are committed to meaningful action.

I hold my hands up that public silence was not the right move.  I hope I have conveyed why we took that stance and, more importantly, what we are doing as an organisation to create the deep change needed inside Platfform, the sectors we work in and wherever we can create change for the better with communities.