Sports field with goal posts and houses in the distance

Challenging ourselves, identifying new leaders and celebrating contribution

By Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire 

Black History Month 2020 will end this week, so it’s a good moment to reflect on our work in Greater Manchester to celebrate the contribution made by black and minority ethnic citizens to our communities.

Across our city-region, communities and organisations have shared stories and learned how black history has helped to shape their towns, neighbourhoods and lives.

Whether in schools, museums, art galleries, libraries or online discussions – people across Greater Manchester have been inspired to learn more and to contribute their own ideas.

The Black Lives Matter movement this summer reminded us all how much more is yet to be done to embrace the contribution of black and minority ethnic communities and to tackle the structural inequalities that persist.

As a city-region, Greater Manchester also recognised that it needs to do more to create change and as part of our commitment to that, we brought forward our plans to create a Race Equality Panel that will advise and challenge public services.

Last month we launched a recruitment campaign for panel members and I’m very pleased to say that we had more than 150 applications by the deadline of 18 October. These applicants are being shortlisted now.

As Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire I know that our front-line public services do not yet properly reflect diversity of the communities they serve.

We have made progress in the Police and Fire and Rescue Service in recruiting a more diverse workforce in recent years.

The Fire and Rescue Service has increased the proportion of its staff that is black, as well as those from other minority ethnic groups, from 2.9% to 4.4% per cent over the past five years.

We have done this by proactively targeting black and minority ethnic communities and encouraging suitable candidates to apply. As a result of this eight per cent of our most recent intake of firefighters are from a minority ethnic group.

In Greater Manchester Police 18% of the 320 new officers who joined during 2019/20 were from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background.

It is progress, but we know more needs to be done.

Of course, the workplace has to be inclusive too and we have also made good progress in developing the organisation’s culture recently through a series of initiatives.

Our senior leaders are accountable for the organisation’s work to improve equality and diversity, but we also have widespread ownership of the changes needed.

For example we have nearly 80 volunteers who act as a “single point of contact” for issues about equality and diversity. They don’t claim to be experts or champions, but they make themselves available to listen, learn and support their colleagues to do the right thing.

This reminds us that everyone has a role to play – and who better to celebrate Black History Month than our own frontline firefighters.

We asked some members of our black and minority ethnic staff network what Black History Month meant to them, watch the videos below to find out more. 

Crew Manager Nick Davies

Firefighter Arame Tall Delgado 

And finally, I’ve also shared my own thoughts on Black History Month through the video below.

Article Published: 26/10/2020 10:36 AM