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Kenny Imafidon on BBC Children in Need’s new fund to support young Black talent

Kenny Imafidon is a Trustee of BBC Children in Need.

He is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of ClearView Research Ltd, which specialises in research focussing on young people and underrepresented communities. In addition to his role on BBC Children in Need’s Board of Trustees, Kenny is a Trustee of several other charities, a member of the advisory board of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and co-founder of a prison programme called ‘My Brother’s Keeper’.

Over the past few weeks, some of the systematic and institutional racism that exists in the UK has been laid bare open for all to see. The reality and the history of it all cannot be ignored. This racism is not new and many people from the black community, like myself, have had to endure the negative effects of it all.

The anti-racism movement in the UK has truly gathered momentum in our nation, and I am hopeful that if we keep this same energy, it can lead to sustainable and long-lasting change. Many people, groups, businesses, and brands have had to reflect, look inwards and ask themselves “what can I, or we do to change things and make a difference?”

The truth is that we can all do something to make a difference, including you reading this. You can commit to doing two important things. Firstly, you can commit to becoming anti-racist. As being non-racist or even being an ally in the fight to end racism is not enough. By being non-racist you are basically still part of the problem and are passively being complicit in enabling racism to continue in our society. You should commit to being more than an ally and wholeheartedly believe that racism is not just a ‘black’ problem for black people to solve but that racism is in fact everyone’s problem and therefore everyone should play a role in bringing it to an end. Ijeoma Oluo, author of “So You Want to Talk About Race,” best describes what it means to be anti-racist. “Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.”

Secondly, we have to accept that in order for us to counter the effects of racism we have to commit to focussing on equity and not equality. As we will never achieve equality of opportunity regardless of race (or gender, ability etc.) without promoting equity. It is all well and good treating everyone equally and the same in society but as many people have come to learn of recent, we are all not coming from the same starting point in life. Therefore, this is why focusing on equity is key. As through concentrating on equity, we can give more to those who need it based on their circumstances, and this way we can truly level the playing field for everyone in our society to succeed. For some, this may come across as unfair, but this is absolutely necessary. Focusing on equity does not mean anyone should be provided with less than they need, it simply just means we provide more to those who need it in society. This I believe is fair, right? I personally would have never got to where I am now without the extra support and resources of charities like the Amos Bursary that supported me throughout university and blessed me with a 3-year full-fee scholarship to study Law and countless opportunities.

Taking this lens of equity to our work at BBC Children in Need has caused us to make changes to how we work and support the 3000+ organisations that we fund. Over the past two years we have taken an honest look at how we can better support those who we know have the system stacked against them and be a more equitable funder. Through a review we undertook into the impact of disadvantage on the lives of young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, with a focus in particular on young black boys, we identified a clear need for action in this space and there was strong support for focused activity and funding to address the specific challenges experienced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic young people.

We have made some progress since this review and have made funds available for groups that focus on the many challenges facing young, black lives. Projects like Future Men in London, Epic Partners in Nottingham, the African Community Heritage Hub in the West Midlands, Belong Nottingham which supports refugees and asylum seekers and the Birmingham Urban Rhythm Network. However, admittedly the proportion of our funds allocated to these groups continues to be low and we must make sure we do better at diversifying our storytelling approach to create a greater focus on the challenges faced by young black people in the UK.

I can speak for the entire Board of Trustees and all the staff at BBC Children in Need when I say, we were really inspired by the pledge made by Stormzy for £10 million over 10 years. This has now led us to put even more of our money where our mouth is, in terms of making a difference to improve the lives of young black people in the UK. I am excited about this new fund and I truly believe that this is the beginning of greater things to come as we continue on our mission to support children and young people most in need.

 

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