Moving from non-racist to anti-racist for the VCSE sector

Moving from non-racist to anti-racist for the VCSE sector

On Thursday 26 November VONNE and GLT Partners held a joint event which aimed to offer a safe space to reflect on what being anti-racist means and the steps that we may wish to take to start or continue our journey. 

The event was facilitated by Ngozi Lyn Cole (see the slides from the event) and we also heard from the Angelou Centre about their experience of being a black led VCSE organisation.


Our learning (and unlearning) included:

  • 68% of respondents to the Acevo and Voice4Change survey (Home Truths) had experienced racism in the charity sector and 9 out of 10 black, Asian and minority-ethnic micro and small organisations are set to close if the Covid-19 crisis continues beyond 3 months following the lockdown. (Ubele).
  • How we use language is important. We had an open and respectful conversation about why using BAME as an acronym is not appropriate. For a fuller explanation of this take a look at the Inc Arts UK website and their #BAMEOver statement.
  • As a group we were asked what makes us feel comfortable and uncomfortable when discussing race, using a Jamboard to note down our thoughts. This helped get some of the worries and fears out of the way, and also to recognise the many positive reasons why people had attended the session. 
  • Hearing an important reminder that to make a difference and practice allyship white people need to ask ourselves “how do we give up power” and “how are we supporting any minoritized people in a meeting” to ensure the work isn’t purely perfomative.
  • Hearing about models of unconscious bias and ways of managing it. Just because it’s ‘unconscious’ doesn’t mean we can excuse potential discriminatory behaviours.  We were asked to complete two exercises to help individuals understand their own bias, the Trusted Five worksheet and Harvard Implicit Bias Test (IAT).
  • The need to embed these conversations in governance and management within our organisations to ensure practical steps to becoming anti-racist.
  • How to be inclusive and the six traits of inclusive leadership: commitment, courage, cognizance, curiosity, collaboration and cultural intelligence.
  • How to be an ally, drawing on the work of Yvonne Coghill and the 7 As of Authentic Allyship.  “Allyship is actively championing the causes of people that are discriminated against or treated unfairly. Allies challenge their own behaviour and that of others”.
  • Practical steps to take in organisations, taken from the Chartered Management Institute Six Steps for better managers to move the dial on race and ways to ‘call out’ and ‘call in’ including phrases which can be used to help achieve change within our organisations.  We also looked at an example of good practice in a VCSE organisation from London Youth and their public commitment to anti-racism.
  • This session was specifically looking at the issue of race, but we also heard that when we focus on improving the situation for people with one ‘protected characteristic’ a wider positive impact is felt.


Quotes from attendees included:

“Thank you for this morning, I've found it incredibly helpful”

“Fantastic event, speakers + breakout sessions - feel really energised about taking positive action personally and in the organisations I work/volunteer in. Thank you for organising and to all speakers!”

“Thank you very much…I have learnt a lot from this session.”

“Thank you so much for the 'moving from non-racist...' event last week. Learnt so much and came away feeling so energised!”