Nearly 500 registered delegates representing a wide range of statutory, voluntary and community organisations from all over the South West will be coming together with victims of racist attacks, to explore the problem of racial violence and identify effective ways of tackling racism in the community.
The conference will be addressed by a number of speakers, including two prominent keynote speakers closely involved in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and its aftermath. Lord Herman Ouseley, Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality during the public inquiry and Imran Khan, solicitor for the Lawrence family, are both due to deliver powerful speeches on the reality of racism in rural areas, widespread failures to act on the Macpherson recommendations, the increase in racial violence over the past five years and the impact on rural communities.
Suresh Grover, director of The Monitoring Group highlights the significance of the conference as a timely opportunity to review progress since the publication of the Macpherson Report,
"The Stephen Lawrence inquiry was an historical event in the history of race relations in this country. It placed racism and racist violence at the top of the national agenda, and exposed the extent to which all our public institutions were failing black and minority ethnic people in this country. Five years on from the Lawrence Inquiry, we see a Home Secretary forced by the courts to set up a public inquiry into racism in the prison service, we see yet another national investigation into racism in the police, a disturbing shift in government policy on asylum and immigration which has effectively contributed to an unprecedented rise in support for the BNP, and an insidious overall culture of fear and suspicion towards people of colour in this country. This conference provides an opportunity for people in the South West to come together and to work effectively together to tackle racist violence in a way that ensures that victims of racial attacks are the central focus – and no longer an afterthought."
The conference will serve as the platform for the launch of the TMG Rural Racism Project. This unique black-led project, the first of it's kind in the country, will provide an innovative package of dedicated and specialist support services to victims of racial violence and harassment in remote rural areas, as well as the regions' towns. The project will cover Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset as well as Torbay and Plymouth. Funded via a grant from the Community fund, the project is being developed as a national pilot for other rural regions in the UK. A top priority will be to further develop an existing 24 hour freephone helpline for victims of racist attacks, which already receives around 800 calls a year from people living in the South West. Also, in an attempt to ensure that victims of racist attacks receive the same level of support, regardless of where they live, the project is also setting up a new South West trans-regional racial harassment network – RHAVAN.
The extent to which racism is endemic in the region has been highlighted in a plethora of research reports. In one of the most recent reports, representing the largest piece of research ever undertaken in the South West, 320 black and minority ethnic people living in the Teignbridge and South Hams districts in Devon, were interviewed about their experiences of racism. Every person interviewed (100% of the study group) reported that they had been victims of racial harassment and abuse. Of equal concern is the fact that out of a total 320, only 13 people had reported these incidents to the police. In another recent report, published by Devon and Exeter Racial Equality Council, two thirds of black and minority ethnic people living in remote rural areas within the county reported that they had been victims of racist attacks and harassment.
According to Ratna Lachman, manager of the TMG Rural Racism Project,
“The evidence on the scale of racism and racial harassment is well documented and publicly available. It is clear that racial violence and institutional racism is on the increase in the South West. This is a direct result of the failure of institutions to address the issues” she adds,
“The collective failure is rooted in the prevailing assumption that racism is not an issue in rural areas because there are few minorities living in the region. The conference will challenge this assumption and we aim to bring people together to ensure that the Macpherson recommendations are implemented across the region and that public bodies deliver on their responsibilities to deliver services for victims of racist attacks and meet their duties to tackling racism in the community.
Due to the overwhelming response to the conference, organisers wish to point out that the conference is now fully booked and that there are no more places available. Anyone requiring any further information on the conference or the work of the TMG Rural Racism Project should contact the project staff on 07940 115827 or 07940 115972,or via email at: email@example.com
1. The Monitoring Group (TMG) was established in 1979 and has become a leading anti-racist casework agency supporting and empowering individuals, families and communities who experience racial violence and harassment. TMG is a registered charity providing support to victims of racial violence and harassment. During the last twenty years we have assisted thousands of people who have experienced violence, harassment and racial injustice, including families suffering as the result of racist murders and suspicious deaths. Over the past few years the work of TMG has become nationally recognised through our direct work on the Stephen Lawrence, Michael Menson, Ricky Reel and Zahid Mubarek cases. These and numerous other high-profile cases have helped transform the debate on racism and have led to significant changes in policy and practice on dealing with racist violence.
2. Racism is a significant and increasing problem in the South West. The Rural Racism Project has been set up, with financial support from the Community Fund, to provide specialist services to those living in predominately rural areas, who are suffering racial violence and harassment. The Rural Racism Project will provide a range of ‘racist incident victim support services’ for individuals, families and community groups in the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset, including those districts administered by single unitary authorities such as Plymouth and Torbay. TMG recognises that people living in rural areas are often more vulnerable and isolated than those living in urban areas. TMG is wholly committed to address this and we will ensure that our services are easily accessible to all those living in remote rural areas .
Issued by The Monitoring Group (TMG)
0001 hours – 06 February 2004