When given a fair chance, we all have the strengths and the potential to make the best of our life and work. What we call ‘seeing the best in everyone’ is one of the core values which underpin our work tackling youth homelessness in London. It is unfair and unjust that racism denies too many young people and communities a fair chance, including the opportunity to have their voices and struggles heard and responded to.
Young people tell us survival is a talent. We know for black young people that survival also means having to deal with everyday and systemic racism in all its different forms: interpersonal, social, economic, political, cultural and institutional. We see and hear in our work how black young people face inequalities and discrimination not only in housing and homelessness but also in education, employment, criminal justice, and health.
Anti-racism has therefore always shaped our work but we can’t, and don’t want to, be complacent. Last year we held a thorough organisational review to equip us to boost diversity and equality in all its forms. We defined our ethos and commitments in our Equality and Diversity Statement and Policy, co-authored by staff and board of trustees. This will continue to inform our work.
We recognise however the specific responsibilities of being an anti-racist organisation. As always, we believe being passive in our solidarity is not enough. Change requires action, so we will work harder towards this internally, in our wider environment, and in how we support and empower young people, making sure we listen and reflect throughout.
We hear and are aware of the deep-seated collective and individual trauma of black communities in London and the UK, some (re)surfacing following the murder of George Floyd and subsequent events as well as the inequalities and racism related to Covid-19. We will offer relevant support across the organisation and for young people.
We are massively encouraged, and humbled, by the energy of young people, colleagues, friends, families and our communities in the Black Lives Matter movement and other mobilisations. We believe it to be important to stand by them in the process of change.
For as long as young people are homelessness and vulnerable in London, our mission is to give potential a home. We can’t achieve this without taking on discrimination and racism. We also can’t do this without making sure that our team and young people feel empowered not silenced, are supported in mobilisation not abandoned, and that their experiences are genuinely heard and taken on board.
Being our word is one of our values too. We will do what we say about anti-racism because the young people we support, our team and our communities deserve nothing less.
If you want to get in touch or share your thoughts just use the hashtag #NHYC