Council’s support for Black Lives Matter campaign

East Ayrshire Council is continuing its support of the Black Lives Matter campaign through a number of initiatives and charities.

Following the public outcry over the death of George Floyd, a number of residents in East Ayrshire contacted their local elected members to find out what they were doing to support this global movement. The Council reviewed its current policies and developed the following statement which sets out its support for the campaign:

Quality, Equality, Access and Partnership are the core values of East Ayrshire Council. We denounce all forms of prejudice and discrimination and stand in unity with members of the black and minority ethnic communities in East Ayrshire. We must actively work in partnership and stand together to end all forms violence and racism. There is no place for racism in our society.

Over the last several years, the Council has created or supported a number of campaigns and initiatives designed to promote equality for members of our black and minority ethnic communities. Just last year, Ayrshire Equality Partnership (AEP) organised a programme of activities around ‘Celebrating Diversity’ to raise awareness and understanding about equality and diversity in Ayrshire.

Each October, the Council supports Black History Month which this year will take place virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions. Throughout the month, the AEP will host webinars covering education and the curriculum, the Black Lives Matter campaign and Ayrshire’s connections to the slave trade.

Show Racism the Red Card (SRTRC), the UK’s leading anti-racism educational charity, has also been supported by the Council for many years. Pupils in East Ayrshire have benefited greatly from a sport-based race equality programme delivered by the Show Racism the Red Card organisation and Kilmarnock Football Club. The Council also supports SRTRC’s Wear Red Day, a national day of action which encourages schools, businesses and individuals to raise money to fund anti-racism education for children and young people.

The Council realises that many young people will have been watching and listening over the summer to the issues of racial inequality in today’s society, and that they will inevitably have many questions. In response to this, SRTRC has contacted all councils to make their resources available to support teachers, and to work with schools in any way that they can. East Ayrshire Council’s Officer for Equality and Diversity has contacted SRTRC for an information pack and will liaise with staff in education once this is available.

There is also now an excellent opportunity for the Council’s Children’s and Young People’s Cabinet to get involved and lead the debate for young people in East Ayrshire, and to have the opportunity to discuss issues raised within the Black Lives Matter campaign.

Councillor Clare Maitland, Cabinet Member for Equalities, Inclusion and Poverty, said: “We all have a duty to confront racism and create a more empathetic and equal future for everyone, and the Council will do all it can to work with our communities to make this happen.

“Although many events and campaigns are having to be held virtually this year, we will still be fully supporting them and encouraging our communities to do so as well.

“It’s particularly important that our children and young people, our next generation, are able to learn about these issues and to add their voices and opinions, so we will keep working with all schools to allow them to do this. I also look forward to seeing how the members of our Children and Young People’s Cabinet take the debate forward and help to progress change in East Ayrshire.”