The incidents of the last few weeks have been tragic, but in their wake there is hope that our society can finally begin to change and confront racial injustice. We have been digesting all of this and thinking about how else we could become more open ourselves and ensure it is core to our approach. Designer Yinka Ilori said recently ‘If you believe in change do it from the heart but don’t expect a medal‘.
As a community organisation, our aim at Blackhorse Workshop has always been to create a space where everyone feels welcome. We want our users to be reflective of the local area that we are in. Yet we also recognise that white men have been the traditional users of these kind of workshop spaces. Cracking this perception is hard, especially as a small independent business, but we have for the last few years been thinking how we can best do this. We still have some way to go.
Our initial approach has been through education – to start by working directly with young people, primary and secondary schools, and local organisations to open up what we offer so more can take advantage of it. We have had much success with this – ‘the Agency’ young people’s programme last year saw new businesses established by young black and asian men and women, and our Blackhorse Responders programme restarting this September is focused on how young people can respond creatively to issues they encounter in our community. We have worked with A New Direction to look at ways to open up careers in making, developed programmes for pupil referral units and worked with the ‘Connecting Communities’ team at Waltham Forest Council to make links with different ethnic groups across the borough.
We will be expanding our commitment to broaden our engagement as we begin to stabilise after lockdown. As a starting point we would like to establish a BAME advisory group to support our understanding of how we can make lasting change – so if you’d like to help us do that we’d love to hear from you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.