A woman who has experienced “horrific” racism since moving to York is working with university experts as part of a project to make the area the North’s first anti-racist city.
Haddy Njie is the chair of new organisation Inclusive Equal Rights (IER) 3.0, which aims to tackle unfairness, inequality and injustice across York.
Last year, City of York Council passed a motion declaring its ambition to make York an anti-racist and inclusive city.
The council has backed the project to the tune of £25,000 and last week IER 3.0 was officially launched at York St John University.
The organisation, made up of a diverse range of people, is to develop a long-term anti-racism and inclusion strategy and action plan, which will be submitted to the council in February, to bring about systemic change.
“Lip service cannot work any more. We need to produce demonstrable and impactful outcomes,” states the IER website.
Haddy, a risk assessor with a masters degree in corporate law, has lived in several areas of the country, but said York was the place she and her partner had suffered the worst discrimination.
Not long after arriving in York, Haddy was racially abused by a taxi driver who told her to leave his vehicle after she asked him to take a different route.
Haddy said people who dismissed the work of anti-racism campaigners had not walked in their shoes – and were ignoring the data.
According to figures from North Yorkshire Police, there has been a 239 per cent in recorded race-related hate crimes since 2012.
“Data doesn’t lie,” Haddy said. “It gives you the evidence that something’s not right and we have not done much, so why is it that this issue is being neglected?”
IER is now working with York St John University on a research project exploring people of colour’s lived experiences in York – in areas like education, healthcare and policing – which will feed into the wider strategy.
A survey for people to complete can be found here.
Haddy added: “We are not a militant group that’s about blaming, shaming, or trying to create a divide. We’re using data, just like a business – you see the data to get insight and you solve the problem.
“We have no intention of this being a one off exercise – we have long-term ambitions.”
Cllr Darryl Smalley, the council’s executive member for culture, leisure and communities, said: “As a key organisation in the city, we recognise how our influence can positively shape the debate and we are committed to defining what it means to stand up to racism with a zero-tolerance approach, ensuring everyone in York experiences equal access and treatment.
“No one should ever fear being abused or discriminated against; not in York or anywhere else.”
A spokesperson for the Office of the North Yorkshire Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner said Zoe Metcalfe was fully supportive of the ambition to make York an anti-racist city.
“To achieve that, it is important that we do everything we can to address hate crimes which take place both in the city and across North Yorkshire,” the spokesperson added.
“The force must also be representative of the community we serve to properly represent everyone.
“Much has been done, but no one is in any doubt there is much still to be done, and we are committed to working together to achieve a clear and simple ambition, to make sure there is no place for racism in the City of York or across North Yorkshire.”