Coram, Black Lives Matter and Equality
Published: Monday 22nd June 2020
The death of George Floyd has been a shocking reminder of how much things still need to change not only in the United States but here in the UK too. Combined as it is with the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 virus is having on some communities, it is a wake-up call to us all.
The Coram Board, together with the Chief Executive, have come together to unanimously reaffirm our commitment to equality, diversity and social justice, a commitment which has inspired us ever since we were founded.
The Black Lives Matter movement raises profound questions about how we live our values and support children and young people to have an equal chance in life, as well as how we function as an organisation.
We have already begun to address these issues at our trustees’ board meetings, in the leadership team and across the organisation within our own staff and with our service users and volunteers.
Our founder, Thomas Coram, was a man of modest means, who stood at odds with many of the prevailing views of his time. He was not involved in slavery and was a trustee of the state of Georgia, which opposed it. He championed education, including for girls and indigenous children, and called for inheritance rights for women. He spent 17 years campaigning to create his charity – originally known as The Foundling Hospital - to support children abandoned because of destitution and stigma.
As his successors, we are absolutely clear that as an organisation we are anti-discrimination of all kinds, both in our work with children and young people, and in our workplace ethos. But we know that we have much more to do. We stand with BAME colleagues and service users and all who have experienced the distress and negative impacts of the structural inequality which still disfigures part of our society.
We want to continue to engage in an open conversation to explore how we can tackle racism, acknowledge the failures of the past and further learn, grow and develop together to build a future in which equality is a reality for the children and young people we serve and for all of us.
Our people and community
Coram monitors equality in action on a regular and detailed basis and has a diverse staff team, but we must do more. From now on, every Trustee meeting will include an update on our progress on diversity and equality.
The leadership team and the trustees are committed to listening and considering where our current policies and approach need to be updated or adapted. The Trustees recognise that the board needs to be still more diverse in its own make up and is preparing an action plan to make sure this happens.
We are convening a Coram-wide forum so that we can consider together what we do currently and where we need to change. And we are working to ensure we hear from those who do not feel comfortable expressing themselves in a more public forum so that they can contribute equally.
How we work
We are taking the opportunity presented by BLM to examine all relevant aspects of our practice, led by our CEO Carol Homden. Our Human Resources team has engaged with our entire staff team in setting out our current best practice models and the policies that we have in place to achieve a diverse and equal opportunity working environment.
All our teams are now considering what needs to be done to improve, to discuss and explore with children and young people how these profound issues affect them and what more we can and must do. We are working to highlight our commitment to being an anti-racist organisation in our ongoing regular communications and to support children and young people to have the skills and confidence to tackle discrimination and foster inclusion.
Coram has, throughout its history, made mistakes and tried to learn from them. We have adapted to fundamental changes in wider society and actively worked to drive such changes in policy and practice.
This work continues today. We work to support children who need them to thrive in loving homes. We work to enable children who have experienced separation and loss to overcome trauma. We work with schools to enable children to learn the personal and social skills they need for life producing resources to build tolerance and respect. We work to deliver, inform and enable best practice and we work to champion and improve children’s legal rights in the UK and around the world.
We are at such a fundamental moment today in the way we develop as a society and as an organisation. It is our task to rise to the occasion, however challenging that may be, and to work tirelessly to ensure that we live our values through everything that we do. That is our commitment.
We shall not rest until every child has an equal chance in life.
Sir David Bell, Chair
Dr Carol Homden, Chief Executive