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Tue, 09 Jul 24 10:00

Celebrating Diversity

Today is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development; more commonly called Diversity Day. A day enshrined within UN Resolution 57/249 and an opportunity to help communities understand the value of cultural diversity and learn how to live together in harmony.

This past year has really brought to the fore issues around diversity. We witnessed the tragedy and horror of George Floyd’s death and response of the Black Lives Matter movement; the murder of Sarah Everard and the highlighting of injustices faced by women; and, the continued impact of a pandemic where the rich have become richer and the poor poorer and where digital exclusion has been exposed as yet another adversity issue for many families.

In the West Midlands we enjoy a richness to our culture and diversity, from the metropolis of the Birmingham conurbation and all that city living brings; the birthplace of the Bard in Warwickshire; the epicentre of the industrial revolution in Telford; Coventry with a certain lady on a horse; and so much more besides, but with such cultural wealth comes another story.

I am sure that every local authority is rising to the challenges that diversity issues bring, be those in regard to the families that we support, or those that impact our colleagues. Nevertheless, I want to share some of the work that is happening in the West Midlands and with two very different local authorities, one metropolitan borough and the other a rural shire county.

Here in Wolverhampton, where 30% of pupils live in homes where English is not the primary language and a similar number live in low income households, we have produced a short film featuring social workers and other professionals, as well as people with lived experience, all who live and/or work in the city talking about their experiences of equality, diversity and inclusion and what we are doing in the city to address discrimination, prejudice and inequality. Sitting behind the film is a wealth of work that supports both our workforce and our community.

Similarly, in Worcestershire where diversity is hidden behind a set of statistics which are lower than Wolverhampton’s, colleagues are working just as hard to challenge inequality. Their work includes a diversity calendar which helps deliver targeted comms to the workforce and events to celebrate and get behind; and their “First Space” internet resource so all practitioners can access quality information. They too have produced a film in celebration of Steven Lawrence Day and their proud support of the foundation which bears his name.

Whilst we know that these films will not change things, they do serve as a focus, a call to arms and a reminder of what needs to change, why it needs to change and what we can all do to be a part of a much-needed revolution. Can I ask, therefore, on this Diversity Day that you take a moment to reflect? Please watch one of our films, if that will help, but use them, not as a means, but as a means to an end.

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