The West Midlands is a vibrant region with one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the UK, and in Europe. Birmingham is one of the youngest cities in Europe, with under 25-year-olds making up 40 per cent of the population. Yet, the region continues to experience persistent inequalities and this has be starkly highlighted by the impact of the pandemic. Most areas in the West Midlands Combined Authority region have a greater level of socioeconomic deprivation than the national average, with approximately a quarter of children living in low income households. The highest rates of COVID-19 related deaths have come in more deprived areas, and neighbourhoods with a greater proportion of residents from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. In the West Midlands, nearly one in four are either disabled or have a long-term health condition and their experience of inequality and exclusion exacerbated by the pandemic.
In a period of global economic uncertainty, and increased wealth inequality, cuts to social security, low pay, rising personal debt, insecure employment and underemployment the WM Funders Network Conference this year focused on how funders continue their journey towards improving equality, equity, diversity and inclusion in their funding strategies and target resources and thinking on how they apply their role and practice in the West Midlands.
5 sessions were held over 2 days to consider current thinking and discourse on equality, equity, diversity and inclusion; the socio-economic profile and distribution of funding and access to resources through an equality and diversity lens; what does anti-racist funding approaches look like, and sharing funders experience of strengthening DEI practice using current tools and resources.
Participants raised the importance of language and how this can create biases in how we are perceived and how we perceive others. Developing an organisational culture that can lead to meaningful and impactful plans in addressing DEEI. Not trying to do everything at once, but by using a DEI lens in strategic planning, data and evidence, people and power, and public accountability identify what one should prioritise and allocate the resources to invest in the positive change. A cycle of plan, review, learn and share experience was felt to be important. Using DEI tools, expertise and resources to support the journey.
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