October is Black History Month and an important opportunity to be part of the national celebration and events to honour the too-often unheard or ignored accomplishments of Black Britons throughout our history. This includes those who made such an impact as part of the UK’s HIV response – and who continue to do so.
The theme of this year’s Black History Month is Proud To Be and we will be focussing on this theme of pride within Black communities during the month. Our objectives for the month are:
- To celebrate how much positive impact Terrence Higgins Trust staff, volunteers, allies and Black leaders have had.
- To raise awareness of what the current disparities in sexual health are and how we can overcome these together.
You can find out more about what we’re doing throughout the month.
Black History Month also gives us time to reflect on our journey as an organisation as we seek to become an anti-racist and more inclusive organisation. We have made some good initial steps over the last 18 months since my previous statement, including:
- Set clear targets around representation, including at board level.
- Established our Racial Diversity Working Group.
- Had conversations with our key contractors about how their inclusion policies work.
- Agreed to invest up to £200,000 to drive this agenda forward.
- Begun work to appoint a Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
- Created the post of Communities, Diversity and Health Equality Lead.
- Invested in properly marking Black History Month.
We are making progress but there is much more that we need to do and the pace of change has been slow. I have heard examples of how colleagues from racially minoritised communities have had a poor experience of working within the charity because of microaggressions and stereotyping. This is wrong and as Chief Executive I apologise for these poor lived experiences. The work that we are doing to reframe our culture and values should help bring about meaningful change.
As an organisation, we are proud of the work we are already doing with Black and other racially minoritised communities. However, we know that there is more we need to do to develop our service offer to people of colour and to make our message clear: we are here for you, we want to work with you and can provide the support that you need. This is particularly pertinent as Black and other racially minoritised communities continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV and poor sexual health. No-one can be left behind when it comes to our mission of ending new HIV cases in the UK by 2030.
Because of all this, I am pleased that equity, diversity and inclusion will be a key strand that will run throughout our new strategy to be published in early 2022. We will include very clear targets and milestones so that we can see that we are changing.