Progress reports show that despite the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic, there has been greater investment to tackle ethnic inequalities. This includes resourcing black and minoritised voluntary and community sector service providers and organisations, and recurrent funding for an annual grants programme to inspire a city-wide community response.
The reports also reveal where steps are being taken to become an anti-racist organisation. Alongside overwhelming support for the launch of a Synergi National Pledge Alliance, the signatories of the National Pledge, which launched in August 2020, now call for collaborative leadership to accelerate the pace of change and identify new approaches. In some cases, there are attempts to rethink the commissioning process, making it more agile and inclusive.
Professor Kamaldeep Bhui, Director of the Synergi Collaborative Centre, and PI in the Department of Psychiatry, University Oxford, said:
'I'm delighted as Director of the Synergi Collaborative Centre to launch this powerful alliance between the NHS, local government, charity providers and BAME community groups in a national movement to transform mental health systems to be less institutionally racist, more enabling, thoughtful and inclusive; one that respects the workforce and acknowledges that all people need health care in the NHS. This is a moment in which the defensiveness and disguises for racism have fallen away. Yet this moment will pass, if we are not mindful, meaning that the usual practices will re-establish themselves to further compound and sustain racial disparities in health.'
The signatories’ unanimous support for the creation of a Synergi National Pledge Alliance to share the learning, challenges and create collaborative leadership for meaningful change is an example of what is possible. There is no space for inaction and ambiguity on ethnic inequalities and the impact of racism, amid a pandemic that has laid bare the devastating consequences of pre-existing inequalities on ethnic minority people’s lives and mental health.
To hear from pledge signatories read the full press release.
Joy Francis, Co-Director, Synergi Collaborative Centre and Pledge Lead, said:
'We are championing collaborative, creative and entrepreneurial approaches that have practical, real life impact, such as commissioning in a less hierarchical and a more community-led way. The pledge signatories’ progress reports are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a great deal more to do, but it is an encouraging start.'
The Synergi Collaborative Centre will launch a Synergi National Pledge Alliance in October 2021 and the second Synergi Pledge Makers Progress Report will be published in November 2021.
Further reading on the UK's first national pledge to reduce ethnic inequalities in mental health care (August 2020).