REUK is an organisation formed by stories from all around the world. We are acutely aware that racial discrimination and inequality affects not only the black community, but people of colour and different national and ethnoreligious communities, in different ways. We also appreciate the vital intersection between gender and these categorisations. There is a lot of work to be done, but this is where we are at now. We want to make progress purposefully and effectively, and know this is only one step on a much larger journey. Please be in touch if you think you may be able to help us in any way on it.
REUK and anti-racism
REUK stands against racism. Here is our roadmap for becoming a more anti-racist organisation.
The Black Lives Matter movement has reignited a conversation globally and amongst everyone involved with REUK. Racism and discrimination are antithetical to REUK. The Christian theology upon which REUK is founded, and our organisational values of respect, inclusivity and equality simply afford no space for any form of discrimination. Our belief in hope is another central value which makes REUK what it is and fills us with confidence that change is possible. These organisational values are instructive and fundamental to what we are doing, and we insist that they are embodied every day by everyone involved with REUK – staff, volunteers, mentors, partners, trustees, funders and young people.
While we are proud of our values and what we have done so far to enact them, we realise we can and must do more to resist and dismantle structural racism.
The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the global Black Lives Matter movement, which brought to light the lives and tragic deaths of many others, hit RSN hard. When we saw the footage of what is a daily occurring tragedy, we were deeply saddened, incredibly troubled and yet somewhat unsurprised. The nature of our work with displaced young people means we see and hear of baseless hatred and inexcusable dehumanization every day.
As a global society, we are a long way from racial equality, and much further from understanding the shared history on which that inequality is founded.
3. Embark on a comprehensive anti-racist training programme for everyone involved with REUK.
All staff at REUK have undertaken diversity, equity and inclusion training but we are looking to improve our efforts in this regard. We are commissioning an external stakeholder for specific anti-racist training for staff. REUK is also committing to providing anti-racism training for all mentors as part of their volunteer training. We are also committing to providing anti-racism training for the young refugees who sit on our Youth Advisory Board.
4. Create an alternative pathway to diversity.
We are committed to making our staff vacancies more visible to a more racially diverse group of candidates. In addition, we are committing to creating at least one pathway to employment to make our team more diverse. REUK will be launching a paid traineeship programme for young people from forced migration backgrounds to join our staff team, as well as paid Lived Experience Advisors to inform and contribute to our strategic vision. The scheme aims to give young people invaluable, extended paid work experience and the skills to work in the charity and refugee and asylum sector. We also hope to launch an ambassador programme that will allow young refugees to take responsibility for REUK projects and initiatives and to boost their experience as they try to make progress in the labour market.
5. Reviewing and taking action in recruitment.
Last year REUK’s senior leadership team committed to reviewing our recruitment processes and updating our equal opportunities policy. We are now committing to a comprehensive, external review of our processes through an anti-racist lense, the findings of which we commit to taking concrete action on. The first steps have been taken to arrange this audit process and we look forward to enacting the recommendations.
REUK's roadmap on anti-racism
1. Establish an anti-racism task force
To date, a working group has been meeting regularly to plan and lead various actions which are making REUK a more actively anti-racist organisation.
By July 2021, we will have formally launched an anti-racist taskforce. This taskforce will be made up of representatives from across REUK and will evaluate our progress on a quarterly basis, holding us to account for the anti-racist agenda we're pursuing.
Both groups will be committed to being entirely transparent and soliciting advice and guidance from other staff members and young people at every stage.
2. Make REUK an open and learning anti-racist environment
To start creating an open culture of discussing and collectively learning about and taking action on race, we've created a 'dialogue starter'. This virtual space enables staff to share their anonymous reflections on and experiences of racism while working in the REUK office, directly with young refugees and when training volunteers. Our working group reviews, analyses and acts on the perspectives shared. Once we return to the office and/or move into the new building, we will also create a physical space for everyone involved with REUK, including young refugees, in which race and inequality can be discussed and initiatives can be created. Until then, we'll keep sharing anti-racist resources online and amongst young people, volunteers and mentors.
These spaces and resources are for young refugees as much as anyone else and we are committed to facilitating difficult but important conversations. REUK also wants to play a role in developing anti-racist educational resources for different levels of English language and is seeking partners for this project.
3. Embark on a comprehensive anti-racist training programme for everyone involved with REUK
5. Create alternative pathways to diversity
4. Review and take action in recruitment
All our Senior Leadership Team have undertaken diversity, equality and inclusion training. Going forward, all staff at REUK must undertake diversity, equity and inclusion training, we will include anti-racism training in our volunteer training and will provide anti-racism training for the young people on our Youth Advisory Board.
We have commissioned external anti-racism training for our staff team. This will be carried out by Ben Lindsey, author of We need to talk about race, as part of a wider anti-racism audit of REUK.
We are developing a paid traineeship programme for young people from forced migration backgrounds. Launching in September 2021, this scheme will offer young people invaluable, extended paid work experience and skills development opportunities to prepare them for work in the charity and refugee sectors.
Other planned initiatives to increase racial diversity in our sector include launching an ambassador programme that will allow young refugees to take responsibility for REUK projects and initiatives and to boost their experience as they try to move from education to employment.
We are committed to making our staff vacancies increasingly visible to a more racially diverse group of candidate and, to this end, are reviewing our recruitment processes and updating our equal opportunities policy. We are commissioning a comprehensive, external review of our processes through an anti-racist lens, the findings of which we promise to take concrete action on.