Entering the venue, you are struck by the number of portraits decorating the room, a collection of prominent black figures who have played their part in history representing their communities in British politics. Councillor Akoto, Councillor Natasha, Professor Patrick Vernon and others spoke of the importance of the roles these prominent figures played in politics, as they themselves are the continuance of such vital representation in their current roles representing the black community and civic engagement.
Picture above: Muhammed Rauf with Southwark Councillors, Natasha Ennin (left) and Naima Ali (right)
Thoughts from Bukola Joel, Community Researcher and Project Manager at Centric:
“I thought the event for Southwark's Black History Month celebrations tagged ‘A Seat at the Table’ was eye-opening for me as a black person and researcher. Observing and seeing the space's passion and hunger for change is fascinating. The event gave me hope and showed how powerful we can become if we work together as organisations trying to change the narratives around the history of the Black and Asian minority ethnicities in Southwark and beyond.
“My take-home message from the event is, 'If you are not at the table where decisions are made, then you will be on the menu'.
As Centric has learnt over the last 18 months, the lack of representation of communities in agendas concerning them can only exacerbate the issues they are facing. This leads to solutions that, although well-intentioned, do not address the core issues driving inequalities in black and seldom-heard communities. Centric's focus has always been empowering and building capacity within these very communities.
We believe seldom-heard communities must be the ones driving knowledge production on the issues they face. Those traditionally excluded or distrustful now have a platform for equitable engagement, through a means where they are valued and viewed as assets. Working within their own communities to better understand the nuances within the issues they face and working together to co-design solutions.
Picture above: Muhammed Rauf with Southwark Mayor, Sunil Chopra and Bukola Joel (right)
What Centric and the Community Research approach is all about
Our work in air pollution exemplified the issues of 'what they say about us, without us,' speaking to the issue of the lack of engagement of the black community in environmental agendas. However, they and other seldom-heard communities are adversely affected by the consequences of not dealing with the issues at hand.
Therefore, this shows that true, reflective representation of communities based within the urban locale is central to the design and development of new services and solutions to improve health outcomes and living standards.
Diversity in Our Work is so Important!
As the development of the Integrated Care System (ICS) continues to roll out over the remainder of the year, Centric feels it will be pivotal to ensure the inclusion of black and seldom-heard groups in the reformation of service design and delivery to address the systematic health inequalities our academic research and community insight has uncovered over the last 18 months.
Centric is taking the local communities and institutions on a journey of change that will ensure communities have a seat at the table and position them to lead the conversations themselves.
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