AWAZ Cumbria hosted a roundtable discussion with tThe Rt Hon Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Minister for Faith and Integration  

 

The Rt Hon Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Minister for Faith and Integration visited AWAZ Cumbria on his Ministerial visit and participated in a roundtable discussion on “Advancing Race Equality and Community Integration” chaired by Peter Foley MBE and attended by the representative of diverse communities from Cumbria in the Old Town Hall Carlisle.  

 Lord Bourne said: “I am delighted to meet the people behind AWAZ Cumbria an organisation working hard to build stronger black and ethnic minority (BME) communities across the county. The HM Government is committed to advance equality and eradicate hate crime. A crime against somebody because of their ethnic origin, sexual orientation or religion and faith is a hate crime against all of us.”

 Aftab Khan, Development Officer AWAZ Cumbria highlighted key challenges and successes in Cumbria as part of AWAZ Cumbria’s community development work. He said: “we have been supporting underrepresented and the most marginalised people and communities since 2005. We do this to make Cumbria a more welcoming and caring society by connecting communities, advancing equality, supporting integration and challenging prejudice.”

 Outlining the key challenges Mr Khan said that advancing race equality, challenging racism and tackling hate crime continue to be a difficult task in Cumbria due to its geography as well as demographics, for example, 60% of recorded hate crimes in Cumbria from January –December 2016 were a race hate crimes. We are increasingly receiving reports from BME young people and parents/carers about incidents of racist and Islamophobic bullying in schools and colleges. Workplace discrimination and harassment of migrant workers continue to be a challenge. BME people in Cumbria often experience limited opportunities for social mobility. Managing the impact of migration is quite challenging for local services in Cumbria where we have an ageing population and vibrant visitor economy in rural areas mainly dependent on a migrant workforce. Furthermore, Syrian refugees are being resettled in Cumbria from April 2017 and we want to establish successful resettlement and integration programme for them.

 The representative of the Gypsy and Travellers community Mrs Joanne Miller said: “The new Traveller planning policy by the government is adversely affecting social mobility and life chances for gypsy and travellers community and we ask the government to critically review the impact and outcomes of this policy to demonstrate genuine commitment to advancing equality for all in the society.”

Peter Foley MBE Chair, AWAZ Cumbria said: “we are working in partnership with community organisations, schools and local authorities and some of our partners are here with us today.”

 Together we are committed to making Cumbria a place where: Everyone is welcome to live, learn, work, visit and conduct business; People respect and celebrate ethnic and cultural diversity and maintain their heritage; All communities are working together to tackle discrimination and prejudice, and promote understanding.

 

We have a number of small on-going projects and initiatives for advancing equality, integration and community development for example; Connecting Communities – challenging prejudice workshops in schools, Turning the Spotlight on Hate Crime Programme for rehabilitation of hate crime offenders, and Carlisle Unity Festival to build resilience and celebrate diversity of cultures and strengths in communities. We believe in partnership working and work closely with local community groups, networks and partnerships in the third sector as well with local authorities and housing associations.

 Mr Frost Head teacher of the Robert Ferguson Primary School shared his experience of working with AWAZ in engaging children to promote equality and diversity and building resilience within the local community.

 

The representatives of the Carlisle Refugees Action Group, One World Centre, Opp shops, Carlisle Food Bank, Nepalese Association, Gypsy and Travellers groups shared their successes and challenges and key issues they are campaigning on such as social justice and supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities.