John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets and Councillor Asma Begum, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Youth and Equalities, have brought together a wide range of key local partners from the voluntary sector, businesses, young mayors and public services including health, police, education and employment to discuss how to address the impact of racial inequality in Tower Hamlets.
Meeting virtually this week (21 July) partners heard from government advisor and founder of Operation Black Vote, Lord Simon Woolley. He spoke about the “perfect storm” of the killing of George Floyd and the impact of Covid-19, which has disproportionally affected people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. He argued that leadership from all levels, including from young people was key to making positive changes for the future.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “The horror of what happened to George Floyd focused the minds of millions on the impact of institutional racism and abuse. We need to take this opportunity to look further and with a united purpose at what can be done to better tackle the existing injustices that are faced by people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Following this positive meeting, Councillor Begum will lead a commission to seek out those tangible and meaningful changes we can make to achieve greater equality and opportunity for all of our residents.”
Councillor Asma Begum, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Youth and Equalities, said: “We all knew racial inequalities already existed but the tragic murder of George Floyd has bought this topic to the forefront of people’s minds and I hope will prove to be a catalyst for change. I’m pleased that Tower Hamlets Council is launching a race commission which aims to bring together partners to identify how to bring about positive steps for real equality.’’
Discussions centred around a range of subjects including employment, health and community leadership and how local organisations need to work together and with local communities to seek practical and positive solutions.
In each of these areas there is clear evidence that people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds continue to be more adversely affected or have fewer positive life and career chances, when compared with those from other racial backgrounds.
Mayor Biggs announced that this partnership work would be further developed and led by Councillor Asma Begum.
The voices and lived experiences from residents, organisations and others across the borough will be particularly encouraged to be heard, and further details will be announced in the coming weeks.