Friday, 19 February 2021

Black professionals whose dream of acceptance are broken on the wheel of workplace racism.


The case of former Metropolitan Police, Chief Superintendant Robyn Williams, 29 years in the force, one year away from a gold star pension, with an outstanding, distinguished and unblemished record should be a salutary lesson for all aspiring black professionals. 

Robyn was a consummate professional dedicated to the police service that was way beyond and above the call of duty. She acknowledged their faults and was always prepared to front community discussions when critical incidents of death in custody and police brutality arose. She was intensely loyal to the institution.
We would have endless debates about the nature of racism in policing; she and I would rarely agree on tactics even though we shared the same goals. But the one thing I can say about this sister is she had a clear view of what progression looks like. She was committed to her cause of improving the service and being the exemplary, ethical police officer seeking to make a difference. Whilst we had our differences, I have massive respect for her professionalism, willingness to strive to make a difference, and commitment to improving matters, even though we fundamentally disagreed on many tactical issues.
Whenever issues came up of police racism and community relations, she would take the fight to her senior officers demanding that they respond positively to community concerns and insisting they deal with rogue officers within their ranks.
In many ways, she was the consummate black professional, avoiding political controversy, shying away from public criticism of the service whilst working hard within the organisation to bring about change.
Yet despite all her loyalty, in the end, she was treated just like any other black person in the organisation. Unlike many of her white colleagues who enjoy the luxury of white privilege, she was not given the benefit of the doubt.
Many black professional workers make the mistake of thinking that they are there on merit, and their colleagues see them as one of the team. Time after time, I have seen these illusions shattered because when push comes to shove, black workers are nearly always considered expendable.
I have counselled hundreds of black professionals forced to the brink of a mental breakdown because of racism in the workplace. Their tears run like rain, as a consequence of facing the stark reality that despite all of their efforts to "fit in", their loyalty to the organisation, they are rarely really accepted; instead, most at best are tolerated.
What grieves them the most, they say, is "after all I did with this organisation, they can treat me like this?" Many pride themselves on finding what they consider to be a successful coping mechanism' contrasting themselves with those who aggressively pursue change and challenge racism.
And this is my point. However hard you try to hide your black self, tone down your culture, wear the same clothes, straighten your hair, turn a blind eye to racism within the organisation, and rid yourself of your black identity, you will never be considered one them.
Coming to terms with that reality can be devastating. It is heartbreaking to see such naivety broken on the wheel of workplace racism and white privilege. Whilst people like Robyn and I may disagree tactically; we stand in solidarity at moments like this. She didn't deserve this, no one does,


Thursday, 18 February 2021

Wales: Another black man dead after being restrained by Police.


Yet another black man dies in Wales after contact with Gwent Police following the recent death of Mohamud Hassan in Cardiff. I can report that Welsh civil rights lawyer Hilary Brown has taken on the case of the latest victim, 29-year-old Sudanese man Mouyied Bashir who died after being restrained by Gwent Police in South East Wales Newport, Gwent. We send our profound condolences to the Bashir family on the loss of Mouyied. 

Mo Bashir, the deceased on the right. 

Police were called to his home address by his parents after Mouyied began to act strangely. Several vehicles and large numbers of Gwent Police officers attended the property, and although not under arrest; he was placed in handcuffs and leg restraints. Whilst under restraint, he subsequently died. He had been a victim of a stabbing in previous weeks, and during his restraint he lay with police officers on top of him. 


Instead of providing the care he so desperately needed, he was forced to the ground, restrained and placed in handcuffs and leg restraints. This was no way to treat a desperately ill man who had already suffered the trauma of a severe stabbing. It appears there was no proper risk assessment, nor was any account taken of his wound when officers decided to restrain him forcibly. Where was the duty of care, or was it the fact, as seen on many other occasions, that all the officers saw was a black man and not a human being.



There has been a long history of black men suffering mental health crisis who have died after being forcibly restrained by police. Cases such as Sean Rigg died after being restrained for eight minutes by Brixton Police in 2008 and left unattended in a police van whilst his condition deteriorated. 


Olaseni (Seni) Lewis died in Bethlem Royal Hospital after the Metropolitan Police subjected him to prolonged restraint in 2010.


Then there was Kevin Clarke in 2018, who died after being restrained by Metropolitan police officers the suffering a mental health crisis. At his inquest in October 2020 jury concluded that systemwide failures contributed to his death. They further concluded that the police decision to use restraint was inappropriate because it was not based on a balanced assessment of wrists to Kevin than the risk to the public and police. 


Decade after decade, we've seen investigations followed by inquest inquiry followed by statutory review followed by Parliamentary reports. All have outlined detailed suggested reforms concerning how best the police should deal with people with mental illness, and absolutely nothing is changed. Nobody has been prosecuted, nobody has lost their job, no one has been held to account, and all the recommendations amount to nothing more than words rotting on the paper they're written on.


The case has been referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct. This will fill no one with confidence as the investigation into Mohamud Hassan's Cardiff case so clearly illustrates. The system is broken, no one has any faith in so-called independent police investigations into controversial deaths in custody. 


All of thee separate investigatory processes are loaded against victims and their families. The case of Mouyied Bashir will be no different from the many hundreds that have gone before it, and justice remains as elusive today as it has been for the last 40 years.  



Speaking to the BBC Mouyied's brother said, 


"My brother was stabbed about three weeks ago. He was put on medication," Mr Bashir said.

 

"He's been battling mental health for a long period of time.

 

"The combination of the medication and his mental health, it got a bit stressful."

 

He said his parents decided to take him back to hospital but could not get him out of his room.

 

"They believed their best option was to call the police and help them escort him to hospital," Mr Bashir said.

 

"They rung the police with the intention to escort him to hospital with, say, two to three officers."


Protesters gathered outside Newport Central Police Station on Thursday afternoon.


 

He said police handcuffed him and "tied him up by his leg". 

 

"His stab wound is on his main artery, so while he is tied up, handcuffed, he started getting weaker," Mr Bashir said.

 

"My dad is in shock (saying), 'What are you doing?'

 

"In hospital, my brother was given CPR, oxygen. They tried everything. It was too late. We only wanted help." 

 

His brother was a "big character, the life of the party" and someone who "wouldn't harm a fly",, Mr Bashir said. 

 

Mr Bashir said: "It's disgusting. There needs to be something done. It's been happening for so long.

 

"Serve and protect; that's what they tell us. We are going to fight. We are going to get answers."


Gwent Police has referred itself to the police complaints watchdog in line with standard procedures for all the good that will do.



Our first and most urgent demand must be that the IOPC immediately release all the police bodycam videos to the family with immediate effect. No legal flimflam hiding behind rules and regulations. The credibility of the IOPC is at stake, and the Black Lives Matter movement is posing an existential challenge to the heavy oppression of a state system of police investigation that has so permanently nailed down the scales of justice on the side of the system.







Monday, 15 February 2021

IOPC Launches Investigation. Police Officer Failed To Help Mohamud Hassan

Dramatic developments in the case of 24-year-old Mohamud Hassan's after the IOPC served a Regulation 17 notice on a South Wales Police officer concerning their arrest of Mr Hassan's on 8th January 2021. 

 

The IOPC notice relates to potential serious misconduct giving credence to the Hassan family's accusation that something happened to Mohamud Hassan either during his arrest or detention by the police.

 

This officer accompanied Mr Hassan to Cardiff Bay custody unit in the rear of a police van on his way to Cardiff Police Station. Mohamud complained to this officer and was clearly in both pain and distress yet was ignored. This information was not passed on to the custody sergeant when he arrived at the police station.

 

This new information raises the serious question of what occurred at the point of arrest. It is widely believed that Mohamud was subject to violent arrest by South Wales Police officers an assertion that has been continually denied by the authorities.


Given these developments, its is now critical that South Wales Police suspended this officer with immediate effect pending the investigation. There should be no prevarication or delay in doing so as any resistance will undoubtedly be seen as a direct provocation by the local community.

 

This critical development fundamentally undermines the IOPC's and Chief Constable of South Wales Police, Jeremy Vaughan's initial press statements that sought to reassure the public or calm rising tensions that there was no case to answer in response to the accusation that South Wales Police were in any way responsible for Mohamed's death.  

 

The IOPC issued a press release stating that "preliminary indications" show that Mohamud had not suffered any physical trauma that could have potentially resulted in his death on the 12th January 2021.

 

The Chief Constable press statement on the 15th January 2021 said,

 

"...we did not do this because we thought that police officers had done anything wrong, but because it was the right thing to do, to give an independent view on the decisions that we made and the actions that

we took."

 

Given these statements, the credibility of both organisations is now in severe and dire jeopardy. The serving of this notice means the community, will be rightly outraged. The demand for real accountability and transparency in this case now becomes urgent.   

 

Indeed in the light of this information, there can be no option but for the IOPC to release all police bodycam and CCTV footage of Hassan to his family immediately. 

 

It is vitally important that this investigation sets new standards of openness and transparency. 


With public confide policing and the IOPC being at an all-time low, with the growing demand for radical reform in relation to independent police investigations, these revelations will reinforce our determination to secure justice for Mohamud. 


Remember 52 officers came into contact with Mohamud in ten hours. One down 51 to go.

 

Now is the time to increase or demands. Suspend the Officer. Release the bodycam footage. 

 

Update: The IOPC in response to this blog has updated their press release to say that even if the officer was to be found guilty of misconduct the most that could happen is a written warning. Here again, we see the IOPC working hard to damped community anger whilst seeking to minimise potential disciplinary sanctions. There is an obvious bias here, if as they say they have yet to investigate interview the officer and have updated the pathologist, how is it they can determine the seriousness of the offence and range of possible sanctions, given this officer's actions cannot be properly judged in isolation from the chain of events that preceded Mohamud's arrest or the pathologist feedback?  

 

 

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Fifty-Plus Police Officers Came Into Contact with of Mohamud Hassan


 

 

Things are progressing concerning Mohamud Hassan's case, but not in how statutory authorities would have hoped. Last week saw the IOPC hold its first meeting with the Hassan family. At that meeting, the IOPC told the family that I had become persona non grata. 

 

The IOPC had sought legal advice that concluded that I could not be invited to the meeting, despite the Hassan family requesting my attendance.

 

The IOPC is setting a dangerous precedent seeking to infringe on the fundamental rights of families to be supported and represented by advocates and activists of their choice when seeking to negotiate the complex and challenging process of the independent police complaints process.

 

The IOPC also held its first Community Reference Group on 2nd February 2021. It had invited 17 individuals and organisations to attend a meeting to hear about progress in their investigation and answer questions. The Hassan family considered this a public relations exercise and informed the IOPC, that they did not want any detailed aspects of the inquiry into their sons' death discussed with this group without their prior consent,

 

In the event, only four people attended the meeting, which indicates how little trust and confidence people have in the IOPC or the process of an independent police investigation.

 

Some at the Community Reference Group (CRG) meeting challenged the IOPC about their decision to refuse to allow me to attend their initial meeting with the Hassan family. . 

 

In the CRG meeting, Senior Independent investigator Ian Andrews revealed that Mohamud Hassan had come into contact with a staggering total of 50 plus South Wales Police Officers. That's an incredible number of officers considering he was in their care for just 10 hours.  Mohamud was arrested on Friday 8th January at 10 pm and released without charge at 8.30 am the following day.

 

The most obvious question to ask here is why such an overwhelming number of police officers involved in the arrest and detention? 

 



Such numbers would typically indicate the arrest and detention of a terrorist suspect or a mass murderer. It would seem to me to be reasonable to conclude that many of these officers must've been involved in the violent restraint suffered by Mr Hassan.

Is it any wonder the family has so much difficulty getting the IOPC to release the police bodycam videos? Can you imagine the scene that involves one slightly built 24-year-old black man and 52 South Wales police officers?

 


This critical information reinforces the need for us to demand these videos' release with immediate effect. Despite denials that Mr Hassan was badly treated during his arrest, we now know the disproportionate numbers of officers involved. The belief he was subject to a Taser will only add to the growing public anger, anxiety and concern about this case.

This is South Wales in 2021 not Mississippi Alabama in 1968. We must increase our demands to ensure the highest possible transparency and access to information are afforded to the family. 

 

The family and the broader movement are embarked upon a historic task of setting new precedents concerning death in police custody investigations. Every passing day provides more compelling evidence that we are right to do so. 

 

We are planning a Twitter storm on Tuesday, February 9th 2021 on the four-week anniversary of Mohamud’s death see the campaigns Facebook page for more details


Please support the Crowd Justice Campaign raising funds for legal action. 



          Support the demand to release the videos - sign the petition, Share the article. 

 

Sunday, 31 January 2021

IOPC fails to provide answers and engages in political interference in the Mohamud Hassan investigation.



The 1940s classic Welsh song, "There will be a welcome in the valleys" written by Mai Jones, Lyn Joshua and James Harpe, invokes the great cultural tradition of Welsh village life in welcoming home its prodigal sons and daughters. 
 

This wasn't much of that welcome in evidence last week however when the family of Mohammad Hassan who died on Saturday 9th January 2021 within hours after contact with Cardiff Police held their first meeting with the Wales Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC). 

 

As many of you will know, I have supported the Hassan family from the beginning of the tragic death of their son and involvement with South Wales Police. As a result, I was personally invited to attend this important meeting with the family. 

 

The IOPC agreed that all those listed to attend including me, would be sent a zoom link to the meeting. That link did not arrive until minutes before the meeting was due to start. Surprisingly I was not included in that email

                                      


As the meeting was about to begin, Senior Lead Investigator Rebecca Hinton informed the family that they (IOPC) had not sent me the link as they had sought legal advice that concluded that I couldn't attend as my "legal role" was not clear. This is simply bizarre and inexplicable.

 

I have attended many meetings supporting the families of victims of death in custody held by the IOPC in London over the years. In all that time, I have never been asked to clarify my legal role or as far as I know has my intended attendance been the subject of legal advice.

 

It will be interesting to hear from IOPC Wales why they felt it necessary to seek legal opinion, what was the question asked and the legal advice they received in response? I have written to the IOPC to ask them that very question.

 

This decision of the IOPC to deny the Hassan family's right to be accompanied by experienced advisers of their choice can be seen as blatant political interference in a ham-fisted and incredibly clumsy attempt to no doubt cause division between the family and myself. There is no legal reason why I should not attend these meetings as my frequent attendance at London IOPC meetings demonstrates. 

 

The critical question is, what’s the difference between IOPC Wales and London? I would suggest the only differences being is Wales is around 40 years behind London on the question of racial justice. Dealing with a backwater organisation operating as if it was 1981 not 2021 provides all the explanation anyone needs to understand their decision.

 

Part of the reason will undoubtedly be my public criticism of the IOPC in previous blogs where I highlighted their apparent synchronised press releases with South Wales Police. I wrote about what I believe to be was an attempt to mislead the public, with information designed to appease widespread community outrage, about the circumstances of Mohamud's death. 

 


But let’s be clear here, my attendance was immaterial as Hilary Brown and Inquest well represented the family, but it does give rise to serious questions about the independence of the IOPC. 
It cannot be right that they decide who families can and cannot bring to such meetings when the Black communities trust and confidence in the process of "independent" investigation into police deaths in custody is at a catastrophic all-time low.

 

The meeting itself was an opportunity for the family to press for answers to crucial questions relating to Mohamed's arrest, detention, release without charge, and subsequent death. 

 

Critical questions were put forcibly to the IOPC. However, they had few answers in return. 

 

Giving rise to further concern is that Rebecca Hinton's boss at the IOPC is Ian Andrew who is a retired police officer. 

 

The black community's overwhelming perception is it matters not whether somebody is a currently serving or retired police officer. The culture of institutionalised racism renders the vast majority blind to racism and black injustice. Many in the black community, share the view that these retired officers' predominant perspectives are biased towards the police. I believe this can be seen and detected in the Wales IOPC initial press release referred to above.

 

Concerning the arrest of Mohamud, we now have strong evidence to suggest that he may have been tasered, more than once, during his arrest. 

 

Again, if this is true, it would dramatically highlight the extent to which the IOPC and South Wales Police were less than forthcoming in providing complete transparency around the circumstances, and the degree of violence used during his arrest. 

 

Is it any wonder they are rarely believed when they seem to conspire to withhold critical information such as this blog to the family of the deceased and the wider public?

 

Despite the IOPC and South Wales Police media manipulation and attempt to exclude voices like mine in supporting families, the reality about the British black communities open hostility to the so-called "independent police complaints investigation process" will not diminish one iota. The current process is oppressive and fundamentally unjust. 

 

There remain many questions to answer about the arrest and death of Mohamud Hassan, and we continue to demand the police body cam video which the IOPC continues to withhold from the family, and we can all guess why. To date the public petition calling for justice and the release of this footage is 29,000 strong. Please make sure you sign and share.   

 


Despite these challenges and difficulties, the family's support continues to grow, and we must redouble our efforts to demand an unprecedented intervention.

We must demand that this investigation reshapes and sets new standards in IOPC investigations, or we must bring that institution to his knees, if necessary, in an effort to secure justice. The choice is clear, immediate radical reform or total abolition 

 

In pursuit of these goals, the family have established a Crowd Justice fundraising page that will support their legal strategy to achieve justice. 

 

What is vitally important to understand is that there are two arms to this struggle. The first is to place massive political pressure on the IOPC to open up this investigation, set new and essential precedents for openness and transparency, the second to robustly legally challenge any aspects of their decisions that constitute a fundamental block on the pursuit of justice for the Hassan family. 


In Wales, this was achieved when we forced South Wales Police to adopt new standards of investigation in response to the appalling racist injustice suffered by the Bute Town Three in 1997 a case that Hilary Brown (current legal rep for the family) and I were both involved with at the time. 

 

We cannot, and we must not allow the present status quo to remain unchanged. Our job in the name of Mohamud Hassan, George Floyd and the countless other victims of these injustices at the police's hands is to ensure that our demand that #BlackLivesMatter is not just a slogan, but heralds a paradigm shift in our demands for real police accountability.


Follow Twitter @Justice4mohamud and Justice for Mohamud on Facebook


Sunday, 24 January 2021

Cardiff Coroners Office Smears Mohamud Hassan.

The case of Mohamud Hassan 24-year-old young black man who died in suspicious circumstances after being arrested by Cardiff police continues to raise critical questions for the Police,the Independent Office of Police Conduct and the Coroner's office. 

                                                   Mohamud Hassan 
                                                   © Lee Jasper

Mr Hassan was arrested for a breach of the peace at his home address on the evening of Friday 9th of January 2021 and released without charge after spending a night in the custody of South Wales Police. 

Numerous people including his family saw him immediately after his release and bore witness that he had was bruised and battered. The Police immediately denied they were responsible for his injuries; however, a post-mortem confirmed that he had numerous bruises both arms, wrists, elbows, left hand and a split lip consistent with being punched or slapped. 

Mohamud's death and the South Wales Police's refusal to properly inform his family or provide any details as to the circumstances of his arrest constitutes a new low in police-community relations. 

In my earlier article on this issue, I pointed out that there appeared to be a conspiracy to mislead the public by South Wales Police who had publicly declared at the point of referral to the IOPC that there was no evidence that police officers were in any way responsible for his death, and the IOPC itself that put out a press release stating that there was no evidence the Police had used excessive force at any time during the arrest or detention of Mr Hassan. 

This was an unforgivable and largely inexplicable rush to judgement that appeared to dismiss Mr Hassan's family and broader community concern about the circumstances surrounding his arrest and subsequent death. 



   L-R Fahiya Abdulla (Mum) Mohamed Deria (Dad) and Zainab Hassan (Aunty) 
                                                     © Lee Jasper 

The whole tone and tenor of these initial public communications gave the impression that there was no connection between his arrest and subsequent death. My suspicions about the extent of a coordinated cover-up are further evidence by new facts emerging in this case.

It has come to my attention that the Coroner's official briefing to the post-mortem pathologists stated that Mohamud had been arrested at a party and had been consuming drink and drugs. 

Once again, we see an attempt to smear and repeat falsehoods to sway or unduly influence, not only the public but unbelievably the forensic pathologists responsible for identifying the cause of death. This blatant lie propagated by the Coroner is fundamentally undermined by the forensic facts. This assertion was not borne out by the results of the toxicology report received by the family. 

The critical question is where did the Coroner get this information? 

The only reasonable conclusion is that that information came from either South Wales Police or the IOPC. In response, Mr Hassan's legal team has written to the Coroner demanding an explanation of how this erroneous information ended up in a critical briefing note to the pathologists. This reveals precisely what we have long alleged, that the current system of inquiry into suspicious deaths in police custody is institutionally racist, and not fit for purpose.

The stereotypical allegation of drink and drugs usually precedes the detailed witness statements of police officers who routinely rely on the racial tropes of "he was stronger than any individual I've ever seen" or had "superhuman strength". Such tropes are usually deployed as an 'explanation' for the Police using massive and disproportionate force on black people. 

We can all write the playbook for this kind of institutional injustice playing out before our eyes. It would appear to me that this could be part of a conspiracy to obscure the truth by seeking to smear the victim with convenient racial tropes that carry powerful currency within the context of institutionally racist organisations, 

This apparent corporate conspiracy looks as though it could potentially involve the South Wales Police. IOPC and now the Coroner himself. If there was ever a case that required the Attorney General's urgent independent intervention, then this is it. 

Unfortunately, black communities have even less trust and confidence in Tory Attorney General Suella Braverman, than they have in the Police. This government is ideologically united in refusing to recognise institutional racism and black injustice. This is why we need to demand that the investigation into this case sets new precedents weighing the scales of justice back into balance,

We are also aware of more media management by the IOPC that has established a local "Community Reference Group" with the intention of "ensuring that stakeholders are kept informed about the progress of the investigation and ensure that we understand the views of communities in a timely and appropriate manner. In this way, we can respond to current or emerging concerns, and, where required, conduct further stakeholder engagement."

This group has been established without any discussion with the family or their legal representatives. Given its principal focus of this group is to respond to community concerns one would have thought that first and foremost, the primary concerns of the family would be integral and formulating its terms of reference, and indeed its membership. 

The family has no confidence in the IOPC and their legal representative has written to them demanding that no details of the investigation are discussed with this group without the family's expressed authority. 

Thankfully many local people who were approached by the IOPC immediately saw through their approach and refused to take part. 

The families. one that's shared by many in the wider community, are that this group is being used for nothing more than media manipulation purposes, and is a cynical public relations exercise. Why else would the family not be consulted about its creation?

The family and the legal team are still waiting to receive copies of the police bodycam videos that show what happened to Mohamud during his arrest and detention. I would urge you to support this demand by signing and sharing the petition linked here. The delay in providing these is inexcusable. The IOPC's rationale for withholding these videos is,

"At this very early stage of our investigation, it would not be appropriate to release footage into the public domain. This footage may need to be used in any future possible proceedings - whether they be criminal, misconduct or inquest - which could potentially arise from the investigation."  

This legalise is, of course, utter nonsense. There are plenty of examples of criminal incidents being caught on camera that appear instantaneously in the public domain without any consequent implications for the legal process. In the United States, such videos are released without delay without any apparent consequences for the victims of the officers themselves. There is no legal requirement for these videos to be withheld from the victim's families. 

The immediate release of police videos should be an automatic right for victims of controversial arrests and their families. It is both a wretched and despicable denial of justice that the Police and IOPC do not provide immediate access to footage that shows final hours of their love one's life.

This tragic case has seen expressions of grave concern by communities, politicians, and the media at a local, regional, and national level and has seen demonstrations demanding justice for Mohamud and his family in Cardiff and London. His case has assumed national significance, and I have no doubt that had we not been in a lockdown we would have organised a national demonstration in Cardiff that would have been attended by tens of thousands of people. 

In support of the family, we will continue to demand that this case sets new precedents in transparency and police accountability in investigating suspicious deaths in police custody and for those who were recently released from Police custody.

Mohamud’s father Mohamed Deria on behalf of the wider close-knit family wishes to thank those people who have supported the families demand for the truth as to what happened to their beloved son during his arrest and detention, and their call for transparency and honesty in the investigation into the cause of his premature death.

We invite you to join us in demanding a new normal.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

BTEG's BAME youth questionnaire.

Why do young black and Asian people’s views matter?

Jeremy Crook OBE, BTEG CEO


These are extremely tough times for young people. 

The Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) delivers programmes for young black, Asian and mixed heritage people in schools and community groups, and we use our links with government and employers to champion actions that can improve their success rates in education and employment. 

We have campaigned for many years to increase apprenticeship opportunities for our young people, especially in sectors where there is under-representation, such as engineering, construction, and technology. One-third of school age young people are from ethnic minority backgrounds but only 8% of apprentices aged 16-19 are ethnic minority.  

The Government is urging employers to ‘build back better’ after the pandemic. We all want to see businesses bounce back when the lockdown ends but there have been many job losses and, sadly, many firms have had to close their doors for good, despite financial support from the government. 

But we must ensure that ‘build back better’ also means ‘build back fairer’. 

With rising youth unemployment, we are deeply concerned that young black and Asian people will find it even harder to secure employment. Unemployment rates for African, African Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage young people tend to be higher than other ethnic groups even at graduate level. 

So, we need to do everything possible to ensure employers and government ‘build back fairer’.  Employers need to judge young people on their merit and character and not on their skin colour or faith.

The lives of young people have been severely disrupted on all fronts educationally, socially and economically.

Children and young people are familiar with on-line communication and they have done extremely well. But we have heard young people talk about how difficult it is to stay motivated when they have been confined to studying or working from home and are not able to do all the things they normally do. Their daily routines have been broken and their plans have been put on hold. Those from poorer backgrounds have had the added difficulties of lower incomes, less space at home and exposure to higher Covid-19 transmission rates. 

As a country we must make sure that young people receive the wholistic support they need to get through the pandemic and be a key part of the national recovery.  

We need to hear the views of young people and to know what is important to them - their views on Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, mental health, education and their employment prospects. 

2021 marks 30 years since BTEG was established. To mark this anniversary, we are conducting a national survey of young people from African, Caribbean, South Asian, South East Asian or mixed ethnic background. 

We think it is important to have good evidence that we can share with policy makers, including government ministers, mayors, employers and local councils, and, importantly, with other charities that support young people. Evidence/data matters. For BTEG it informs our priorities and the projects we develop.

Surveys provide evidence on what large groups of people think and feel about specific issues, so please share this blog and survey link  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BTEG2020 with young people and youth groups.