Representatives, experts and residents came together last week to look at ways to tackle racism and inequality in the housing sector.
The Race and Housing conference, held on Wednesday 18 November, was the first of its kind to be held in Bristol on this scale and was put together by the Mayor of Bristol, Bristol City Council and SARI – Stand Against Racism & Inequality.
Over 180 delegates attended the virtual event; including residents, key council departments such as housing, community development, safeguarding, police, social landlords, anti-social behaviour officers, and mental health care providers.
Speakers included Bristol Police Commander, Superintendent Andy Bennett, Alex Raikes MBE DL, Strategic Director of SARI, Sado Jirde, CEO of Black South West Network, Cym D’Souza, Chair of Black Minority Ethnic National and Fuad Mahamed, CEO of Ashley Community Housing.
Mayor Marvin Rees, who opened the conference, said: “This conference looked at how we work to develop strong, inclusive and resilient communities in Bristol, and how the city council can work together with residents, the police, and other agencies to ensure residents can thrive in Bristol – wherever they live, and whatever their background. As a council and as a city, we haven’t always got this right - sometimes with tragic consequences.
This conference is part of our efforts to set a new course, to learn from cases like Bijan Ebrahimi and Kamil Ahmad Ali, and to make sure our housing systems meet the needs and aspirations of all of our residents across the whole city.”
Along with expert speakers on the subjects of housing and race, attendees took part in workshops such as ‘tackling race hate crime in housing’ and ‘how to make sure the views of black and ethnic minority residents are represented in housing policy and planning’.
Alex Raikes MBE DL, Strategic Director of SARI (Stand Against Racism & Inequality) speaking at the conference said: “This conference is the first of its kind in a very long time and has never been more relevant. We organised this in particular to ensure that we take on board, and disseminate as widely as possible, the learning from two preventable murders of Bristol residents - both of whom were refugee, single men. These murders happened in Bristol which is meant to be a City of Sanctuary. Both cases had a history of unresolved racial harassment that had gone on for years. It was also for all communities out there who are vulnerable to hate crime and racism.
The conference looked to address racist incidents on the ground holistically while recognizing that we must also achieve a best practice response to all anti-social behaviour at its earliest stages. In addition safe, respectful cohesive communities can only be achieved if there are deep and meaningful relationships between a critical range of stakeholders. SARI is proud and excited to be part of this venture in which the conference is just the beginning of the change we want to see. It will lead to a co-designed action plan that we are determined to see through.”
It is hoped that the conference will establish lasting networks, which will be used to share good practice, discuss future opportunities and challenges, and work to ensure Bristol residents have a safe, warm and affordable homes within healthy and balanced communities.
Notes of the conference can be obtained by emailing email@example.com or calling 0117 922 2000