A Better Start Southend always endeavours to ensure its projects and services are open and accessible to all members of the community within our six wards, with children aged 0-4, irrespective of their race or background. We are aware that the tragic murder of unarmed black man George Floyd earlier this year in Minneapolis, America, is one of the latest injustices in a long history of inequality and pain for black people, and has again highlighted the racism and discrimination which is sadly all too present in our communities. A Better Start Southend stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and alongside Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in Southend.

With our fantastic parents, who are so important to our work, and our brilliant partners, A Better Start Southend always strives to do better and as such, we are taking important steps to review our services to ensure they continue to welcome and support BAME families.

We will be creating a BAME Steering Group, which will bring together voices from across the A Better Start Southend partnership, in order to better understand the individual challenges BAME families experience. These voices will help us refine and develop our local services, to ensure they are right for all of our service users.

Black Lives Matter to us here at A Better Start Southend, and across our partnership, and we are determined to design and deliver services that give all children the very best possible start in life.

At our Steering Group, topics such as partnership working to support the BAME community in Southend, ABSS engagement with BAME communities, and BAME representation within the ABSS team have been explored, as well the development of clear objectives, including:

  • Identifying the needs of the BAME population within the ABSS target wards
  • Establishing any gaps in ABSS and Delivery Partner services in meeting those needs
  • Devising an action plan to determine the work required to fill the needs/gaps identified
  • Reviewing the ABSS and Delivery Partner reach within the BAME community
  • Reviewing representation of BAME communities in the management of ABSS

In the coming weeks, we will be working in collaboration with our partners to gain a better understanding of the experiences of the BAME population within each of our wards. This will help us to assess the range of needs within these communities so that we can continue to ensure our services meet these needs. It will also allow us to engage further with BAME communities to help give all children within our wards the best start in life.

An example of the work which ABSS will build upon is the programme’s longstanding support for Welcome to the UK – a user-led group that supports families from overseas who have newly arrived in the UK to engage positively in Southend-On-Sea. ABSS has been supporting Welcome to the UK for nearly 2 years, promoting their work and providing Crèche services and other forms of support. This has allowed parents to attend lessons in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and has helped build community engagement.

Our partnership with Welcome to the UK has continued via our COVID-19 Extension to the Engagement Fund, through which Welcome to the UK secured funding to provide one-to-one guidance, online ESOL classes and friendship to families. The project has further helped families to understand and support their child’s home-schooling needs and navigate COVID-19 government guidelines.

For more information about our work within the BAME and non-British communities, contact abetterstart@eyalliance.org.uk

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