Time for Change: Action Not Words.
That’s the theme for this year’s events at Black History Month. Words are easy, but action speaks much louder.
Black History Month is an important opportunity to reflect on the improvements required to make the United Kingdom a place for people from all backgrounds and walks of life to thrive in. That includes every facet of life here – Education systems, asylum processes, accessibility to health care, social mobility and social care.
The narrative that surrounds people in this country with African and Caribbean roots is a story that needs changing.
We know that in the care system, African and Caribbean children are overrepresented.
We know that African and Caribbean people do not receive the same quality of care that others depend on.
We know that climbing the economic ladder as an ethnic minority is much harder and for some impossible.
To change those narratives, it requires everyone to open their minds, hearts and communities to their neighbours and embrace the cultural pillars that form so much of one’s identity.
Black history & Foster Care
Children from African or Caribbean descent since Windrush who entered the care system would be historically placed with white British families in the storm of a country that wanted nothing more than to rid the Isles of anyone who looked like these children. The impacts of substandard care and cultural insensitivity would leave an indelible mark on the mental well-being of these children as they grew into adulthood. Tie in the lack of opportunity and access to support and you have a concoction that fuels confusing and negative life experiences that can affect generations of families.
Moving forward, what’s changed?
Changing perceptions hasn’t happened quickly and we see the effects of diaspora and lack of appropriate education in young people from ethnic minorities in the proliferation of gang culture and exploitation, lack of opportunity and the cyclical nature of generations entering the care system. We see through social media, racist and prejudicial abuse flung publicly and without repercussion.
Willingness from the public at large to understand, rather than cower, from the cultural traditions that maintain strong values aimed at the Caribbean and African population is needed more than ever.
Fortunately, in the care system more careful measures are in place so that when children with Caribbean and African heritage are placed in care, there is a means to stay connected through education, maintaining family ties and mentorship.
Although we always aim, through our rigorous matching processes, to place children with families that have similar cultural and religious backgrounds, the lack of diverse foster families means it’s not always possible. Families utilise our tailored training sessions and with mentoring programs such as Konnected CIC making the transition into a home that isn’t familiar as smooth as possible, but more has to be done!
Small gestures can make all the difference
Now we are reaching the end of Black History Month, we encourage everyone, no matter if you foster a child with a different background to you or if you don’t foster at all to engage with the people, food, products and stories of those that are in your neighbourhood. Getting to the point where these are readily available online, in stores and in most communities has been the result of decades of activism and fight.
Make friends, and make a difference.
If you’d like to become a mentor for children in care contact Konnected CIC, or if you would like to explore African and Caribbean culture with your children buy an activity pack from Planet Jigsaw.
To everyone involved, Happy Black History Month.