The founding principles of Shared Lives and Homeshare are that people from different backgrounds choose to live and share their lives together. For decades, the people involved have rejected division, valued and respected each other for who they are, and fought for equality and inclusion.
Like many, we have watched with horror the murder of George Floyd in the US and the ensuing events. Black and minority ethnic communities and leaders in the UK have been clear in saying that this needs to be a moment in which the UK, too, reflects on systemic racism and inequality and for all public bodies to listen to BAME people and create real change. Last week saw the release of a report from Public Health England confirming that the current COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately killed BAME people, while BAME people have been disproportionately likely to have been arrested for breaches of lockdown in comparison to white people carrying out the same breaches.
As a senior management team and board, we cannot stay silent on inequalities, and we must recognise the work we have to do ourselves, including in increasing the diversity of our staff team, and of the people in leadership roles in our membership network. Our sector needs to improve the collection and use of equalities data. We are inspired by the work of BAME people within Shared Lives and Homeshare and have for several years been increasing the visibility of the diversity of our sector. A number of local member organisations are leading the way on championing equality and diversity and reflecting their local community. We have adopted a human rights approach as the foundations of our drive to build equality across the Shared Lives and Homeshare sector.
We recognise that recent events will have been particularly distressing for our BAME colleagues and members, and we wish to share our thanks to BAME people within our movement for everything you do already, and to invite you to share your experiences with us. We invite everyone to share your thoughts on what we as an organisation and wider movement should do and change.
Richard Jones CBE, Chair
Alex Fox OBE, Anna McEwen, Lynette Barlow, senior Shared Lives Plus team