Inspired by last year’s Black Lives Matter protests Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram will look to remove barriers in the Liverpool city region labour market via the Race Equality Hub. Tony McDonough reports
A new programme to tackle “systemic racial injustice and inequality” across Liverpool city region has secured a £3.2m cash injection.
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (CA) is setting up the Race Equality Hub, one of the first of its kind in the UK. It will target employment inequalities and remove barriers in the labour market.
The hub will focus on training, employment support and business assistance for people from black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds. It will also fund race equality training for 22,000 local Government workers in Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton.
Creation of the hub is a key part of the CA’s Race Equality Programme, which was established by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram in the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.
It is estimated that addressing race inequalities could add around £300m to the Liverpool City Region economy each year. Mr Rotheram said: “We’ve all seen in the past few weeks, with the abuse directed at black footballers, that there is still a lot of work to be done to tackle racial inequality in this country. In the Liverpool city region, we’re trying to lead the way.
“Through the Race Equality Programme we launched last year, we are taking practical, proactive and positive action to level the playing field and overcome bigotry and discrimination.
“I want to work with the communities most affected by racial inequality to create a Race Equality Hub designed around their needs and priorities. With their support, I want to see this hub lead on removing barriers to success and become a beacon of good practice for the rest of the country to follow.”
Work to establish the Hub will start this autumn and take two forms. One, led by the CA, will include action to increase participation in existing programmes where people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds are underrepresented and to raise awareness of race equality issues across the city region.
A full business case will be created for the hub. The CA will set up an external development board as it looks for partners. It is anticipated it will deliver business support, job readiness schemes, leadership development and mentoring programmes, as well as race equality training for businesses and organisations.
Extensive stakeholder engagement has already taken place to understand the specific issues in the Liverpool city region, including speaking with nearly 350 people, including black, Asian and minority ethnic-led organisations and citizens across all ages.
Moni Akinsanya, LJMU’s equality, diversity and inclusion manager who initiated the Reciprocal Mentoring Programme, Positive Action Programme and the LCRCA’s Black, Asian, and Minority Staff Leadership Development Programme added: “The Race Equality Hub is a desperately needed initiative.
“Many organisations wish to proactively address the issue of recruitment, progression and retention of people from Black, Asian and Minority communities but don’t really know how and who to approach.
“The hub will provide the urgently needed support and answer as it will bring together experts and consultants from diverse communities to work with organisations and people of colour themselves in addressing pertinent issues.
“I’m particularly pleased that a significant amount of investment has been put into this initiative which goes to show the seriousness about taking action for real visible and tangible changes in our city-wide region.”