On Friday 3rd December 2021, Race Equality Network welcomed distinguished guests from across Bradford and Keighley to the REN Showcase Event 2021 to acknowledge the achievements of the COVID-19 Prevention Project, Community Champions Project, and ongoing work in health inequalities and Root Out Racism campaign. The event highlighted the excellent partnership work that has taken place during the pandemic, as well as providing a much-needed networking opportunity.
Hosted at the Aagrah Mid Point, the event was organised and coordinated by the REN staff and board, with the hope of marking the end of one project and shining a light on REN’s future work. Guests included grass-roots community partners, strategic partners, local councillors, health professionals and Public Health representatives, and faculty of the University of Bradford and Leeds Beckett University.
REN Project Manager, Humma Nizami, opened the event by welcoming guests and providing an insight into the work that REN has been carrying out since August 2020. Humma then invited to the stage the Pro Vice-Chancellor [Equality, Diversity and Inclusion] and Director of Centre for Inclusion and Diversity at University of Bradford, Professor Udy Archibong. Always an inspiring and emphatic orator, Professor Archibong spoke on Equalities and Inclusion, including the Bradford District Equalities Strategy.
Initially sparking the planning of this event was the culmination of the COVID-19 Prevention Project, funded by Bradford Council to tackle inequalities faced by ethnically minoritised communities during COVID-19. To speak in more depth about the COVID-19 Prevention Project and to introduce the delivery partners was REN Project Capacity Builder, Hattie Charnley-Shaw.
“The pandemic was (and continues to be) a real test of resilience, solidarity, and innovation for us all. Something we at REN know all too well is that these partner organisations know their communities best, and working in meaningful partnership with them is the most effective and beneficial way of reducing inequalities faced within the communities of Bradford.”
REN worked with 26 community organisations to deliver this project, and we were honoured that almost all could attend this event. Many of them went on to speak for themselves about their experience of the project delivery and working with REN. These activities included food delivery, culturally sensitive counselling and therapy, befriending support for the vulnerable and isolated, online exercise classes, educational support, guidance and advice through the COVID-19 Helpline and much more. A booklet was published to outline the work, which is available via REN if you would like to receive a copy.
REN would like to extend a huge thank you once again to the COVID-19 Prevention Project Partners:
Being a small organisation with huge aims, REN works best in partnership. We took the opportunity at the Showcase Event to present Special Recognition awards to those who went above and beyond to support REN in the delivery of their projects. These awards were given to Rukeya Miah, Victoria Simmons, Clare Bussingham, Khalida Ashrafi, and the staff and volunteers at both Bradford Council’s COVID Response Hub and WomenZone.
Live music and performance was also an important part of the evening. REN recruited local artists, musicians and poets to showcase their work on the night. Guests arrived to the sounds of Eeshar and Sirrjan Singh, traditional Sikh musicians; we were later entertained by the fantastic Gypsy Rudko Band, representing the Slovak Roma community, brought to us via Connecting Roma CiC; poet Hassan Khan gave his first live performance of There Is No Justice, Just Us, which touched on topics of racism, racial profiling and family with a local Bradford perspective; and to close the evening we heard from rising star Musumba. This was Musumba’s third event in collaboration with REN, the first two being the Root Our Racism and Black History Month local launches earlier this year.
In the second half of the evening’s event, we heard from Fatima Khan-Shah, Programme Director for Unpaid Carers and Personalised Care Programmes at West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership. Fatima discussed the ongoing work that REN is working alongside WYH Partnership on to tackle and eliminate health inequalities. Also invited to talk on this topic and the response to COVID-19 in Bradford was Liz Barry, Commissioning Manager for Department of Public Health at Bradford Council.
In addition to the COVID-19 Prevention Project, REN have been delivering the Community Champions Project, focusing on increasing uptake of the COVID-19 vaccination. This project is still ongoing, and will now focus on caring for communities’ mental health and wellbeing as we recover from the effects of the pandemic. Project Co-ordinator Adiba Rashid took to the stage to outline the project, thank delivery partners and discuss the future of the project.
With a closing statement from Humma and REN secretary Dr Salam, the event concluded with an opportunity to network with the over 50 organisations that attended. The overarching sentiment was that everyone felt overwhelmed with a sense of achievement and unity, and agreed it was a pleasure to see people in three-dimensions after a year of greeting through a flat computer screen.
REN hopes to build on this Showcase Event by organising similar events in the future, be they in the form of a networking opportunity, member’s meeting or conference with speakers.
We are always improving and building our network. If your community organisation would like to know more about working with REN, please get in touch at email@example.com. We accept both individual and organisation members, and you can download the membership form here – please complete and return to the above email address.