‘Only by working together, can we make a lasting difference.’
That was the message of Haddy Njie, chair of Inclusive Equal Rights UK (IERUK), at York’s first Anti-Racism Summit.
Hosted at Bishopthorpe Palace, the summit brought together around 60 leaders from across the city.
The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, co-hosted the event and told the gathering that it “a collective call to action”.
Last year York council approved a city-wide five-year anti-racism and inclusion strategy, developed by IERUK. The ambition is for York to be the first anti-racism city in the north.
Haddy Njie, chair of IERUK, was instrumental in raising the issue after experiencing racism in York.
She put forward the motion to make York the north’s first anti-racist city, following similar initiatives in Oxford, Brighton, and Derby.
Ms Njie said: “This summit is an important next step in our ambition to make York an anti-racist and inclusive city.
“Despite a wave of support for our strategy last year, we also saw threatening and racist responses, which highlights how urgent constructive dialogue and engagement is to ensure we make a lasting stand and promote inclusivity.
“All who attended the summit will leave with actionable solutions. Only by working together, can we make a lasting difference.”
You can sign the York anti-racist pledge here.
Recorded racial hate crimes in York and North Yorkshire have increased by 239 per cent since 2012, rising from 152 to 515 in 2020.
The Archbishop said: “The anti-racism summit at Bishopthorpe Palace stands as a testament to our commitment to justice and equality.
“It is a collective call to action, reminding us that the eradication of racism and hate in our society is not just a goal, but a moral imperative, essential for the flourishing of all humanity.”
The summit, which coincided with the UN Education and Peace Day, aimed to foster dialogue, understanding, and cooperation to help combat the pressing issues of racism and hate.
During the event, IERUK introduced the anti-racism strategic taskforce. It will lead the implementation of the anti-racism and inclusion strategy for York.
The strategy includes 12 action points for policing reform, including reviewing stop and search policies, and establishing unconscious bias training.
It also focuses on healthcare, housing, and social welfare, to help make access to infrastructure and opportunities in York more equitable.
The summit included representatives from the Church of England, York Mosque and Islamic Centre, the York Liberal Jewish Community, York Travellers’ Trust and Refugee Action York.
Also attending the summit were leaders of North Yorkshire Council, Cllr Carl Les OBE, and the City of York Council, Cllr Clare Douglas, as well as the Lord Lieutenant for North Yorkshire, Jo Ropner, and the Rt Hon Lord Mayor of York, Chris Cullwick.
Figures from the education sector attended from York St John University, Askham Bryan College, and University of York, as well as representatives from North Yorkshire Police.
Business leaders from York BID and the CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Paul Kissack, also took part.