Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King's College London

Author: Jake Orros (Page 1 of 7)

DHM 2022: Disability Inclusion At King’s – learning from our mistakes, progress and priorities

This year’s theme for UK Disability History Month is ‘Disability, Health and Well Being’. This theme invites us to consider how barriers to inclusion affect disabled people’s wellbeing and it also prompts us to reflect on how far we still have to go at King’s to make sure our environment enables disabled members of our community to flourish.  

Events to mark Disability History Month and explore this theme further are taking place across King’s and you can find out about these here 

In this blog, our Senior Sponsor for Disability Inclusion at King’s, Professor Richard Trembath (Senior Vice President Health & Life Sciences and Executive Director of King’s Health Partners) reflects on the progress we have made in the past two years, the challenges we still face and our priorities going forward.  


Professor Richard Trembath stood in front of display cabinet containing books.

Professor Richard Trembath (Senior Vice President Health & Life Sciences and Executive Director of King’s Health Partners)

Disability Inclusion has been a priority in the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy since 2019 and, to support this, a Disability Inclusion Action Plan and Maturity Model were developed in consultation with King’s staff. King’s also has a dedicated team to support disabled students, the Disability Support & Inclusion Team, and I am pleased to share some of their work below as well.   

Two years ago, we published a blog ‘How far have we come, and how far have we to go?’ in which we reflected on progress on Disability Inclusion at King’s. In that blog myself, and colleagues from EDI and Access King’s were able to share progress in key areas. This included my appointment as Senior Sponsor to ensure disability inclusion is championed among senior leadership and also significant steps forward on digital accessibility and Equality Analysis. Since then, we have continued to make progress and further embed disability inclusion at King’s but we have also faced challenges and have learnt some important lessons along the way. To mark Disability History Month this year I wanted to reflect both on the positive steps we have taken forward but also on those difficult lessons.  and how we plan to learn and grow from them.  

Learning from our mistakes 

At King’s we understand disability through the Social Model, which means we want to focus on removing barriers to create an inclusive work and study environment. While this is our aim, the theme of this year’s Disability History Month calls us to reflect on how well we do this and what the impact is on our disabled staff and students’ wellbeing. Particularly in the last two years we have been confronted with the challenges of making a large historic estate physically accessible to our community. The shortcomings of our buildings and the ability of our processes and structures to find quick and satisfactory resolutions to these barriers, and others, has come to the fore. I hope you will see in the priorities at the end of this blog post that there is work underway to learn from our mistakes, understand where things aren’t working and make sure we work together to overcome these challenges.  

Before sharing those priorities and the positive progress we have made in the last few years, I wanted to start with this acknowledgement that we know we don’t always get it right and we are sorry when our progress is not rapid and responsive enough to meet the needs of our community. We are extremely grateful to our staff and student community who are so generous in sharing their experiences, their concerns and frustrations and help us to understand the impact of this work on their experience at King’s and their wellbeing. In so doing, you push us to do better and we thank you for that.  

Another key area that you have told us needs to improve is how we communicate with the King’s community about the challenges and progress in disability inclusion. I hope this update goes some way to provide insight into the work in this area and I am also pleased to share that we have new pages on the Disability Inclusion Hub to provide more transparency on the Disability Inclusion Steering Group and our Disability Inclusion Action Plan and Maturity Model. 

Progress  

I am delighted to share some of the key areas that have progressed in the last two years. The activity below reflects work from teams across King’s under the four strategic pillars of Disability Inclusion Action Plan:  

  • Leadership, Governance & Culture   
  • Policy, Process & Procedure  
  • Local Experience  
  • Data, Outcomes & Evaluation 

Under each of these four pillars are a range of objectives that aim to address the structural inequalities that impact disabled people at King’s. Work to fulfil these aims is being carried out across King’s. Below I have highlighted some of the key progress that has been made in the last year.  

Leadership, Governance and Culture  
  • The Disability Inclusion Steering Group (DISG) includes key leaders from across King’s whose work focuses on disability inclusion or who can help us embed disability inclusion projects and practices across the College. The DISG now needs to move forward at pace with delivery to a number of key objectives and needs to ensure disability inclusion is connected to our governance structures and has recognition at King’s.  
Policy, Processes & Procedure  
  • Following previous work from the EDI Function to promote Equality Analysis in King’s policy changes and projects, Estates and Facilities are embedding Equality Analysis into their Capital Projects handbook to ensure the big projects involving new buildings for King’s campuses consider the impacts on marginalised groups, including accessibility and inclusion for disabled staff and students.  
Local experience  
  • The Disability Support & Inclusion team have enhanced the support of disabled students through a range of actions including:  
    • Ensuring engagement with the student voice by conducting a student survey in summer 2021. The results of the survey have informed thinking of the DSI Service Strategy and the changes being introduced to better support disabled students in 2022-23. 
    • Working with Residences to review and enhance the Additional Accommodation Requirements (AAR), ensuring appropriate accommodation offers are made to disabled offer holders and students.  
    • Collaborating with faculties and departments to improve adjustments provisions and process for students around assessment and coursework.  
  • A range of new resources have been created to provide information and support to King’s staff and students:  
  • The Centre for Doctoral Studies, with support from the Disability Support & Inclusion team, have developed a reasonable adjustments process for PGR students and are committed to reviewing and continuing to improve this process.
  • The Digital Education Accessibility Task-and-Finish Group have developed the Digital Education Accessibility Baseline. This KEATS course outlines the core principles for digital education accessibility and gives guidance on how to apply them to teaching and learning material. A valuable accompaniment to this course is the Digital Education Blog which provides post offering insight on how different teams across King’s are applying the Baseline.  
  • Access King’s, the Staff Disability Inclusion Network at King’s, has continued to flourish and provide an invaluable space for staff to find community, support and advice. Special mention must go to Abbie Russell who has been integral to the success of the Network since its inception – Abbie steps down as Co-Chair this year and her passion, integrity and collaborative spirit will be much missed. However, Access King’s will no doubt continue to thrive and help hold myself, the EDI Function and all those working on disability inclusion to account.  
  • Disability Inclusion has been embedded in two new EDI training courses introduced by the EDI Function:  
    • The Introduction to Equality, Diversity & Inclusion e-learning module launched in April 2022 to provide a baseline introduction to the Equality Act 2010, discrimination and EDI at King’s.  
    • The relaunch of Diversity Matters training in October 2022 following the procurement of a new training provider brought in to deliver a new version of the training based on revised learning objectives and consultation with the King’s community.  
  • Estates & Facilities have renewed King’s membership with AccessAble who provide accessibility audits and information for King’s campuses. Access Guides are provided for all King’s buildings and audits of King’s sites are now being used to review and implement accessibility improvements.  
  • King’s took part in a Student Disability Adjustments Passport Pilot which was led by the University of Wolverhampton. The passport is being developed by the Department for Education and aims to help students transition into employment with the support they need to succeed. Through our involvement King’s students were able to directly influence how the scheme is developed.  
Data, Outcomes & Evaluation  
  • The Personal Circumstances Form and Guidance for the Academic Promotions process have been updated to better support disabled staff members going through the promotions round and we hope to have more influence on this process to ensure it is disability smart.  

Priorities 

Based on the lessons learnt from staff and students not getting the adjustments and support they need, many of our priorities and actions for the next year focus on improving how this is delivered at King’s and how the governance for disability inclusion ensures responsbility and accountability are clear.  

The Estates & Facilities Directorate have started to introduce a range of new initiatives to improve how accessibility issues are dealt with and how disability inclusive practice is embedded in estate projects and design. A new group is being created to enable specific accessibility challenges to be overseen by the key people who can make decisions and progress adjustments. They are also introducing an accessibility category on the help desk ticket system to ensure accessibility issues are easy to report and are processed quickly to enable swift resolution. Alongside these changes to address existing issues, E&F are also proactively working to embed inclusive design to prevent such issues arising. There is also work underway gathering staff views on office and open plan workspaces, with the aim of improving the accessibility of these spaces.   

Disability Support & Inclusion and the EDI Function are working together, with support from Strategy, Planning & Analytics, to ensure disability inclusion is effectively embedded in governance at King’s and responsbility and accountability for this work is clear to the whole King’s community. It is important that disability inclusion is effectively connected to the new Staff and Culture Strategy Committee and the priorities of King’s Strategy 2026.        

The EDI Function will prioritise improving the processes and support relating to staff disability adjustments. This will include the launch of the Staff Adjustments Passport as well as training and guidance for line managers and other key staff members who play an important role in the adjustments process. The EDI Function will also review King’s Disability Policy to ensure it meets the needs of the King’s community and includes Workplace Adjustments more clearly. 

As mentioned at the start of this blog, communication has also been highlighted as a key priority and the EDI Function will work with colleagues across the College to improve how we share updates and issues and keep our community better informed. The EDI Function will continue to utilise the Disability Inclusion Hub to provide updates and they will also commission new blogs about disability, accessibility and inclusion at King’s.  

Celebrating key dates, such as Disability History Month provides the opportunity to shine a light on the contributions and experiences of disabled staff and students in our community has always been a priority for many across the College. Access King’s have a fantastic range of events planned for the next year and there is also work underway to find a permanent home for the Neurodiversity at King’s display created by the KCL Neurodiversity and Mental Health Student Society.  

I am confident that with the commitment of so many, that the changes and developments outlined above will help us to better respond to the needs of our community. I hope this update has been helpful and has given you a sense of the fantastic achievements that have been made alongside the important lessons we have faced.  

If you would like to learn more about Disability Inclusion at King’s you can go to the Disability Inclusion Hub (for staff) and the Disability Support & Inclusion (for students) intranet pages.  

 


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Trans Day of Remembrance 2022

Sunday 20th November is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant (lead for LGBTQ+ Inclusion), Adam Perry, explores the statistics and significance of this day. 

CONTENT NOTE: Transphobia, Violence and Murder, Discrimination, Sexual Violence


Transgender day of remembrance will be taking place on Sunday 20th November. This is an international day which takes place to remember and honour trans and non-binary people who have been murdered because of transphobic violence and hate crime. The day originally started in 1999 by trans advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honour Rita Hester, a trans woman who was killed in 1998.

Violence directed at trans and non-binary people for exercising their basic right to exist within society is sadly not uncommon. Transrespect versus Transphobia  run a Murder Monitoring Project which started in April 2009 as a cooperation between Transgender Europe (TGEU) and the academic online magazine Liminalis – A Journal for Sex/Gender Emancipation and Resistance. Information from the Murder Monitoring Project Name list estimates that between October 2021 and September 2022, 327 trans and non-binary people have been murdered globally. Sadly, these numbers include a UK citizen, with a 28-year-old being fatally stabbed in Downpatrick. The data is based on internet reports and activist reported data, as it is challenging to obtain accurate numbers. The actual number is likely much higher.

It is important to acknowledge that the trans and non-binary community is not a homogenous group. It is vital to use an intersectional lens to understand transphobia and trans violence. Of the 327 people who tragically lost their lives to transphobia:

  • 95% were trans women or trans feminine people;
  • Where occupation was known, 50% were sex workers;
  • 65% of the reported murders were Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic*;

*The Trans Murder Monitoring Project uses the term ‘racialised people’ to refer to those that have been negatively racialised or racialised as ‘other’, within King’s and the UK, we would use Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, although we understand that there isn’t one ‘perfect’ term.

Whilst the focus of Transgender day of Remembrance is on honouring those who are no longer with us, it would be remiss to not acknowledge that murder is just one of the risks of harm faced by trans and non-binary people. At current, media and political discourse is polarised and at times, dehumanising. This can exacerbate the already bleak statistics on transphobia. In the UK, the Galop Hate Crime Report  found that 29% of trans people had been subject to physical violence, whilst 17% had experienced sexual violence. A 2018 Stonewall report into LGBTQ+ students experiences in universities found that 7% cent of trans students were physically attacked by another student or a member of university staff because of being trans and 39% of trans students would not feel comfortable to report this to university staff. The alarming reality is that transphobia (and the harm caused by this) is a feature of our society, and likely exists within our university community.

Show Your Support:

King’s is committed to ensuring trans staff and students are part of a supportive and inclusive work/study environment, and do not face discrimination on the grounds of their gender identity. We are collectively responsible for creating and maintaining a safe and inclusive community. There are several ways in which you can show your support:

  • KCLSU and the Chaplaincy team are holding a vigil Friday 18th November; 5.30- 8pm at Kings College Chapel, Strand Building, details of which are here.
  • Check in with your trans and non-binary students and colleagues. Transgender Day of Remembrance can be an emotionally challenging day for many members of the community.
  • Educate yourself on trans identities and transphobia:
    King’s Trans Matters Toolkit is a good starting point with resources to help managers learn how best to support trans and non-binary staff and information for students and staff on transitioning at King’s.
  • Attend KCLSU Trans Awareness Week festival events.
  • Register your interest in a Trans Matters Training session for your department/faculty by emailing diversity@kcl.ac.uk.

It is important to look after your wellbeing. Transgender Day of Remembrance can be emotive. If you find yourself grappling with unexpected feelings or distress, please do contact the King’s Counselling and Wellbeing Service or the LGBT Switchboard which is available from 10am-12am every day. 


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Islamophobia Awareness Month 2022

This November marks the 10th anniversary of Islamophobia Awareness Month being founded. Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Project Officer, Safyan Rahman, explores this years IAM theme ‘Tackling Denial’. 


Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM) is a campaign founded in 2012 by a coalition of Muslim organisations. It aims to highlight the impacts that misconceptions and discrimination can have on Muslims and showcase the positive contributions Muslim communities make within society. November 2022 marks the 10 year anniversary of IAM which has spent the last decade rapidly building engagement with supporters, putting on hundreds of events across the country and embarking on several profile-building media campaigns.  

Each year the campaign adopts a theme, with this years’ specific focus ‘Tackling Denial’. It aims to raise awareness of the denial of Islamophobia within political and social spaces, highlighting the dangerous and pervasive impacts such denial can have on Muslims around the globe. Denying or diminishing the existence of Islamophobia, whether institutional or in day-to-day interactions, prevents meaningful conversations on how to tackle Islamophobia. IAM aims to spotlight this theme as a means for generating uncomfortable yet valuable conversations and collective education.  

Islamophobia has a pervasive impact on communities around the world. Opinion polling by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) found that 22% of Britons had negative feelings towards Muslims and that 33% believed equal opportunities had gone too far when it comes to Muslims. In October 2020, the Home Office published data showing that over 50% of the UK’s religious hare crimes had been targeted towards Muslims in the preceding year. In 2014, the Office for National statistics found that Muslim men were up to 76% less likely to find UK employment compared to white, male British Christians of the same age and carrying the same qualifications. Muslim women were 65% less likely.  

These attitudes and actions do not manifest within a vacuum and are often influenced by narratives presented about Muslim communities by national policy-makers, media broadcasters and other prominent media forms, demonstrating that what are traditionally considered ‘overt’ and ‘covert’ acts of Islamophobia are inherently linked. This is evidenced by a 2019 study conducted by the MCB which concluded that the UK coverage of Muslims was predominantly negative, with 59% of industry coverage of Muslim-based stories containing negative themes.  

Islamophobia Awareness Month encourages people to educate themselves on the context of Islamophobia within the UK but also to think proactively about their role in tackling it. Islamophobia will inevitably affect a large portion of King’s Muslim community (staff, students and visitors), making it more important that as a community we actively seek to continue educating ourselves and understand the importance of this campaign. As a starting point, we encourage all members to explore the following resources:  

Educational resources 

Internal resources  

  • Sign up to Active Bystander training on SkillsForge to learn how to become an effective ally for all marginalised communities against bullying and harassment.  
  • Book the the newly updated Diversity Matters training to increase your knowledge on the importance of a diverse workforce.  
  • Contact diversity@kcl.ac.uk if you would like us to put on a Tackling Microaggressions training session within your staff group, directorate or Faculty. Separate sessions for students and staff can be held.  
  • Read the Religion & Belief Policy which outlines our expected behaviour of all members of the King’s community in relation to religion and belief. 
  • Use Report + Support to report any incidents of islamophobia, bullying or harassment, and to receive support.  

For further information on how to get involved with Islamophobia Awareness Month and, be kept up to date on events happening in your local area, and how to spread awareness of the campaign, visit the IAM2022 webpage 

At King’s we affirm our commitment to the safety of all staff and encourage all to use this month to reflect on how they can further their self-education and get involved with Islamophobia Awareness Month.  

You can also follow the organisers of IAM on Twitter. 


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Black History Month 2022: What’s on at KCL

Black History Month 2022

Every October Black History Month is marked across the UK.

This year’s theme for Black History Month is “Time for Change: Action not Words” and we’re committed to ensuring our celebrations at King’s College London inspire and support tangible action.

Throughout the month we will be sharing Black History research and achievements of our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic alumni, as well as hosting various events (details below) across the university. At King’s we are committed to creating an anti-racist university and working on initiatives that go beyond the month of October. Later this month we’ll be sharing more on our new race allyship toolkit and race equality maturity model which is currently in development.

To help you get involved with Black History Month at King’s we have pulled together some interesting reads, useful resources and a spotlight on some of our upcoming events in this blog.


Must Reads


Useful Resources

  • You can keep track of what is happening at King’s throughout the month by visiting our staff intranet page here.

 

 

 

  • Follow out team on twitter (@KCLdiversity), we’ll be sharing content throughout the month.

Event Spotlight

Click image to expand the calendar of events

Events taking place across the university this month include:

Afro-Asian solidarities: Lotus and its afterlives exhibition
Thursday 6 October 2022 to Friday 14 October

The exhibition aims at fostering inclusive pedagogy through a focus on the anti-colonial writers and artists of the Afro-Asian Writers Association and their journal Lotus published in Arabic, English and French from Cairo and Beirut (1960s-1980s).

Building on our interdisciplinary expertise we foreground the importance of this neglected body of cultural production from the Global South, stressing its centrality in the making of contemporary global politics and world literature.

Find out more


Shakespeare and Race Festival 2022

The theme of the Shakespeare and Race Festival 2022 is ‘Spoken Word(s)’, withevents and resources available through out the month.

The festival will also showcase new and exciting creative work from the Folger Institute, as well as ground-breaking research from Shakespeare and Race scholars from around the world. This year, the Festival is co-produced and co-sponsored by King’s.

Find out more


Black Heroes of Mathematics Conference Watch Party!

We are warmly inviting you to “Black Heroes of Mathematics Conference Watch Party!” We have dedicated rooms to watch this year’s conference, organised by LMS. Details on the event can be found here: https://www.lms.ac.uk/events/black-heroes-mathematics Please check below when and where you can watch the talks at KCL: Schedule:
– 4/10/22 13:00-16:30 Talks broadcast at Room: FWB 1.20 (Waterloo Campus).
– 5/10/22 10:00-12:00 Talks broadcast at Room: S-1.08 (Strand Building).
– 5/10/22 12:00-13:00 Lunch will be offered at Room: K2.29 (King’s building).
– 5/10/22 13:00-15:30 Talks broadcast at Room: K0.19 (King’s building).
The rooms have specific capacity so the attendance will be monitored at first come first serve base.

Find out more


Events calendar:

The Windrush Compensation Scheme – is justice finally being served?
Wednesday 5 October, 18.30 – 20.00

Set up to right the wrongs committed against the victims of the Windrush Scandal, the Windrush Compensation Scheme ( WCS ) has been in operation for over 3 years. The WCS has been subject to significant criticism which has led to some reform. The panel will provide a current assessment of the WCS and whether it is finally delivering justice.

Register here


Launch event: Afro-Asian solidarities: Lotus and its afterlives exhibition
Thursday 6 October, 18.30 – 20.00

The exhibition aims at fostering inclusive pedagogy through a focus on the anti-colonial writers and artists of the Afro-Asian Writers Association and their journal Lotus published in Arabic, English and French from Cairo and Beirut (1960s-1980s). Building on our interdisciplinary expertise we foreground the importance of this neglected body of cultural production from the Global South, stressing its centrality in the making of contemporary global politics and world literature.

Register here


Black Students Talk: Self-Expression
Thursday 6 October, 18.30 – 20.30

Black Students Talk (BST) is a peer support group that provides safe, supportive and therapeutic spaces for students at King’s who identify as Black (African, Caribbean, Mixed with Black heritage) to meet, share, learn and manage their mental health and wellbeing. These sessions are run by students, for students!

On Thursday 6 October, BST will be kicking off for the new academic year with a Black History Month session on Self-expression. Come along to Guy’s Hodgkin Building Classroom 11 for a thoughtful discussion in a warm and welcoming environment.

Find out more about BST on the KCLSU website


Black Student Leaders Meet and Greet
Monday 10 October, 18.00 – 20.00

Join us in the Vault to meet others in the King’s Black students community and say hello to some of our Black Student Leaders heading up our societies, networks and rep roles. Discover their plans and campaigns for the year to come as well as finding out more about plans for Black History Month!

Sign up here


Roundtable discussion on Black Political Thought

Tuesday 11 October, 17:00 – 20:00

What is the history of Black political thought – as a subject, as a disciplinary field? What should​ it be ? How should historians and other scholars think of it now? Join the KCL History Department and the Medicine and the Making of Race Project for an evening discussing these and other questions with an all star panel of experts in the field, including:
– Dr Tonya Haynes, University of the West Indies.
– Professor Tommy Curry, Edinburgh
– Dr Kesewa John, UCL
– Dr Dalitso Ruwe, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON
– Dr Meleisa Ono-George, Oxford
– Chair: Professor Richard Drayton, KCL

Sign up here


Race and Healthcare in Brixton

Wednesday 12 October, 12:30 – 14:00

Joining us for a discussion about healthcare, race and activism in Brixton, Paul Addae, from the Brixton community organisation Centric, and colleagues open the floor up to history students and interested others to learn about both the long history of activism in Brixton and the legacy that that history has had for the current, dynamic activist agenda around healthcare.
In a conversation that takes us from the limitations of healthcare now to the history of an activist community to the history and contemporary of race and racism in our country now, this discussion with the ‘off stage historians’ of Brixton offers the opportunity to delve into critical contemporary issues as these are refracted through the lens of healthcare.

Sign up here


Black & Minority Ethnic Experiences in Higher Education
Monday 17 October, 17:00 – 18:15

King’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team invite you to join Professor Kalwant Bhopal and Professor ‘Funmi Olonisakin talk about the experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic people in higher education.

This event has been designed to reflect this year’s Black History Month theme (Time for Change: Action not Words) and audience participation is encouraged. It is free to attend but space is limited so please book your place. If you have any access requirements then please contact diversity@kcl.ac.uk

Register here


Engaging with Blackness – a showcase of some current CMCI research

Monday October 17, 16:30pm – 18:00

Kings Building, K-1.56

This event is intended to introduce you all to some of the current research happening in the CMCI department, that in some way engages with Blackness. In addition to finding out more about the department’s research activity, this event encourages us all to think more reflectively about ourselves as academic researchers. Each of the speakers will provide a short presentation, followed by a conversation (including audience questions) that will be moderated by Dr Jonathan Ward. There is no need to register for this event.


Liberation Ball: Panel and Performance
*UPDATE – Postponed to February 2023*

Join us for our very own Liberation Ball, a homage to London’s queer ballroom scene. This event will be a celebration of achieving liberation through art. We will begin with an informative and exciting panel of London ballroom icons, exploring the history of ballroom culture and its significance to the black, queer, and trans communities. Followed by a ball itself where students will have the opportunity to walk in three categories (Runway, Best Dressed and Vogue) and showcase their talent.

Find out more and register here

 


Meet Juliana Oladuti, the Author of ‘Queen’ for a reading + Q&A, followed by a social

Tuesday 18 October, 13:30-15:30

Activity Room D (Bush House South East Wing, 300 StrandvWC2R 1AE

Join us in celebrating Black History Month with the launch of a fantastic new book “Queen” presented by the author, Juliana Oladuti, on the day. We’ll have a reading & Q&A followed by a social.

Book Synposis: From a tradition of oral storytelling, Juliana, a Nigerian in her seventh decade, decided to challenge herself by putting pen to paper and writing the story of Queen. A bright village child who, despite being born into a culture and at a time when girls were not valued, Queen is forced to undertake an odyssey. The journey takes her through West and North Africa and eventually to Europe.

Sign up here.


Daniell Lecture

Wednesday 19 October, 15:15 – 18:00

PhD student Desmond Koomson will talk about his journey into chemistry research and his current and previous research ahead of the Daniell Speaker guest speaker (Professor Sir David Klenerman FMedSci FRS, Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge).

Sign up here


Estates & Facilities Black History Month Celebration
Thursday 20 October, 11.00 – 13.30

The E&F EDI Race Equality Workstream are holding an event to celebrate Black History Month. This would be an opportunity to celebrate our colleagues success across E&F and discuss remaining challenges.

Register here


Choreographing Freedom: Sound Images of a Black Revolution
Tuesday 25 October, 17.15 – 18.45

In late twentieth-century Britain, Black women, queer folks and transfeminine people were crafting new ways of living. Situated in the heart of Empire, outlaw women, erotic dreamers and gender rebels refused to adhere to the prevailing norms and codes that organised their lives. These adventures with beauty, sex, pleasure and performance offered blueprints for imagining a radically different world.

In a series of extracts from Bentil’s forthcoming book, Rebel Citizen, she explores the lives of those whose stories resist the dominant narrative of History and the insurgent desires that shaped the everyday revolution of Black life in 1970s and 1980s London.

Register here


Film screening and conversation with filmmaker Carl Earl-Ocran

Tuesday 25 October. 18:00 – 20:00

This event will comprise of a screening of the short films ARACHNID and HACKNEY DOWNS (both written and directed by Carl Earl-Ocran.) This will be followed by a drinks reception and conversation and audience Q&A, moderated by Dr Jonathan Ward (CMCI). This event will be live-captioned throughout.

Carl is a British-Ghanaian writer and director, with a passion for storytelling. His aim is to tell long form narratives with personal yet universal themes, sharing emotive, character-driven, socially conscious stories with compelling high concepts, highlighting, in particular, underrepresented voices.

Sign up link


Dismantle King’s Colonial Legacy Campaign Launch
Wednesday 26 October. 17.00 – 21.30

This is the launch event for a student and staff led campaign to Dismantle King’s Colonial Legacy. This event is open to all interested students and staff, and will feature a variety of talks from activists and academics, group discussions and performances.

Sign up here


Anti-Racism and Health: Levels of Health Intervention – Leverhulme Lecture by Visiting Professor, Camara Jones
*UPDATED DATE*

Monday14 November, 19.00 – 20.30

In this, the first in a series of three public lectures on Anti-Racism and Health to be offered by Professor Camara Jones during the year, she will make the case that “racial” health disparities cannot be eliminated until racism is named and addressed. Engaging with audience members in a spirited conversation exploring the pertinence of these ideas in the United States and United Kingdom contexts.

Register here


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Embedding Digital Accessibility to the heart of everyday TEL work

This article was first published in KCL’s Digital Education Blog on the 19th April.

 

This article has been divided in two parts:

  • Part 1 Laura Patari a Technology-Enhanced Learning Officer in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Public Policy discusses how the SSPP TEL team works to boost staff understanding of digital accessibility baseline.
  • Part 2 provides an overview of the TEL training sessions available on the subject.

Allyship:

“the state of being an ally (= a person who helps and supports somebody) to a particular group of people that you yourself do not belong to, in order to help ensure their basic rights and ability to be happy and successful in society”- Oxford learner’s dictionary

What does digital accessibility mean to me? It means being able to embrace a platform for its intended use, because the people building it know how to create a great user experience – anticipating, rather than reacting to the needs of our diverse learning community. Being an ally.

At the moment, there is still room for improvement at King’s College London. The urgent relevance of focusing on digital accessibility as a King’s community cannot be stated better than it does in the recent Student Digital Accessibility Report from Miranda Melcher.

This report highlighted voices of 540 KCL students on both user experiences of KEATS, module organisation and assessment, as well as teaching and information practices. See a qualitative piece of feedback from SSPP and Arts & Hums students on using KEATS:

 “It’s been really hard using KEATS. Each module lead is using it differently (e.g. interpreting headers differently), the design of it is not accessible and difficult to easily navigate, you have to jump across many different pages to get information needed, pages often don’t match up to the my timetable or teams invites, we don’t get notifications of questions on the forums and some lecturers are not responding quickly or at all on these, etc. Overall the design is just really not user friendly.” (shared by BA SSPP & BA Arts & Hums & SSPP MA students)

My takeaways from the wider report focused on the challenge that a lot of user experience issues are broad, making it difficult to make quick changes: we are talking about module level issues repeated across faculties. It’s a grassroot issue that spreads across fields. However, a connecting thread can be suggested as knowledge gaps on basics of digital accessibility.

How Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy (SSPP) TEL integrate Digital Accessibility to our information resources, training and wider strategy

In the next part of this blog I will discuss how the SSPP TEL team work to plug knowledge gaps and encourage early onboarding of SSPP colleagues to boost staff understanding of digital accessibility baseline.

Part 1: TEL Hubs

Over the past 6 months, the SSPP TEL team have rebuilt our Faculty Hub and TEL Hub. These pages act as faculty-level repositories of information aimed at staff and students. Including digital accessibility to these repositories was a core goal of the project. Below are some practical examples of how I embedded these to the faculty pages.

Allyship: the state of being an ally (= a person who helps and supports somebody) to a particular group of people that you yourself do not belong to, in order to help ensure their basic rights and ability to be happy and successful in society • Oxford learner’s dictionary What does digital accessibility mean to me? It means being able to embrace a platform for its intended use, because the people building it know how to create a great user experience – anticipating, rather than reacting to the needs of our diverse learning community. Being an ally. At the moment, King’s could do a lot better. The urgent relevance of focusing on digital accessibility as a King’s community cannot be stated better than it does in the recent Student Digital Accessibility Report from Miranda Melcher: The current online learning experience for students at King’s is one of interesting, relevant, and high-quality content, that students are impeded from learning from fully due to poor and inconsistent organisation and access to information. This report highlighted voices of 540 KCL students on both user experiences of KEATS, module organization and assessment, as well as teaching and information practices. See a qualitative piece of feedback from SSPP and Arts & Hums students on using KEATS: “It's been really hard using KEATS. Each module lead is using it differently (eg interpreting headers differently), the design of it is not accessible and difficult to easily navigate, you have to jump across many different pages to get information needed, pages often don't match up to the my timetable or teams invites, we don't get notifications of questions on the forums and some lecturers are not responding quickly or at all on these, etc. Overall the design is just really not user friendly.” (shared by BA SSPP & BA Arts & Hums & SSPP MA students) Interested to dive deeper? Read the Student Digital Accessibility Report. (link) My takeaways from the wider report focused on the challenge that a lot of user experience issues are broad, making it difficult to make quick changes: we are talking about module level issues repeated across faculties. It’s a grassroot issue that spreads across fields. However, a connecting thread can be suggested as knowledge gaps on basics of digital accessibility. How Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy (SSPP) TEL integrate Digital Accessibility to our information resources, training and wider strategy In the next part of this blog I will discuss how the SSPP TEL team work to plug knowledge gaps and encourage early onboarding of SSPP colleagues to boost staff understanding of digital accessibility baseline. Part 1: TEL Hubs Over the past 6 months, the SSPP TEL team have rebuilt our Faculty Hub and TEL Hub. These pages act as faculty-level repositories of information aimed at staff and students. Including digital accessibility to these repositories was a core goal of the project. Below are some practical examples of how I embedded these to the faculty pages.

A dedicated section for digital accessibility was built in the TEL Hub. The section gave an introduction and housed four levels of information for staff:

  1. Quick Resources: checklists from across CTEL and KCL faculties for daily tasks on KEATS, MS Office and CMS. The aim of this section was to highlight guides that had a short read time that ensured “quick wins”.
  2. KEATS and file accessibility section was added to ensure staff knew about basic functions of Blackboard Ally and where to find central guidance and training
  3. Designing for diverse learners: this expanded on the quick resources with a focus on web accessibility and universal user design in both infographic and text format. Resources were brought in from internal (CTEL) and external (for example gov.uk) sources.
  4. Policies and regulations: this section included reminders such as KCL accessibility report, along with KCL D&I commitments that aimed at putting the above resources to the institutional context.

For a closer look, you can explore the digital accessibility section yourself by navigating to the SSPP TEL Hub (only available to KCL staff members).


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Inclusive Britain

Jennifer Hastings, EDI Projects & Partnerships Manager at King’s College London explores the UK Government’s recently published Inclusive Britain report and the potential implications for King’s as a leading university. 


 

Inclusive Britain is the government’s response to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities investigation that was published on the 31st March 2021 and made 25 recommendations. The actions outlined in Inclusive Britain are wide ranging, covering areas such as health, education and even the language we use. It isn’t without critics (some condemn its push to ‘de-politicise’ racial inequality and focus on individual action rather than structural change) however this blog aims to provide an insight into the potential implications on King’ rather than debate its merit. The below list is by no means exhaustive- there are 74 actions that will interest the King’s community to varying extents and we’re keen to hear from anyone whose work is impacted by the report. 

Terminology and data collection 

There’s a number of actions pertaining to the language we use and therefore the data we collect. The government has stopped using the acronym ‘BAME’, an umbrella term, and the Racial Disparities Unit (RDU) plans to consult on the best way to record and communicate ethnicity data and issues. 

We know that language is important. It has an impact on accessibility, inclusion and people’s sense of belonging. We also know that there’s often disagreement over the ‘right’ terminology to use. In our recent race equality survey, we asked staff and students for alternatives to BME (Black, Minority Ethnic) and the results varied, however many did recommend referring to an individual’s ethnicity rather than using an umbrella term. We are currently developing our own guidance on terminology and look forward to sharing across King’s. 

Artificial Intelligence 

Actions around artificial intelligence (AI) include addressing racial bias in algorithmic decision making. Richard Salter, Director of Analytics at King’s says: “The use of AI technology is still very much in its infancy in terms of Professional Services at King’s but we’re cognisant of the opportunities and risks, so the recommendations around bias in algorithms, including disproportionate impact on minority groups are very pertinent. If there was a national algorithmic standard this would certainly be beneficial and I would expect we would want to at least be in line with this. We are hoping to establish an Ethical Use policy for AI for Professional Service at King’s as part of the Senior Data Governance Committee which was set up last year.” 

Health and clinical research 

King’s has four health faculties and so any actions related to public health and services are going to be of interest. There will be a health disparities white paper (although this is not solely focused on race but will also consider other factors such as socioeconomic status), a review of potential racial biases in medical equipment, steps to address maternal health disparities and a move to increase ethnic minority participation in research and clinical trials. 

King’s has already been conducting research into health inequalities, such as the Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation’s work on socioeconomic inequality in end-of-life care (examples here and here) and the experiences and needs of LGBT people (examples here, here, here and here). 

Student Support and Widening Participation 

Several actions aim to improve student outcomes, which links in with much of the work carried out by the Student Transitions and Outcomes department, such as their approach to closing the attainment gap and Conversations about Race.  King’s is also refreshing its Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which will include an objective to improve mental health outcomes for underrepresented groups. 

What next? 

In terms of accountability, there will be a report to Parliament in March 2022. However, given many of the actions require further research or consultation, I would hope to see a significant amount of public engagement in the meantime. Given King’s has expertise in so many of the areas covered in Inclusive Britain, we have a real opportunity to be sector leading and shape how the UK tackles racism.  


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International Non-Binary People’s Day

International Non-Binary People’s Day is marked annually on the 14th July. This coincides with Non-Binary Awareness Week which this year runs from the 11th – 17th July 2022. The aim of both occasions is to celebrate Non-Binary people globally and raise awareness of the challenges members of the community face.

Non-binary flag

What is non-binary?

The LGBT Foundation have shared the following definition: Non-binary is used to describe people who feel their gender cannot be defined within the margins of gender binary. Instead, they understand their gender in a way that goes beyond simply identifying as either a man or woman. Some non-binary people may feel comfortable within trans communities and find this is a safe space to be with others who don’t identify as cis*, but this isn’t always the case.

*Cis – ‘The word “cis” comes from a Latin word meaning “the same side.” Cisgender is a term used to describe someone whose gender has not changed from the one they were given at birth’ (LGBT Foundation).

Is non-binary new?

The short answer is no!

Non-Binary and gender nonconforming identities have existed throughout history, you just need  to know where to look. Here are some handy Historic England and Britannica articles that explore this in more detail.

What is it like being non-binary in the UK?

Leading LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall explore what it means to be non-binary in the UK today in this article.

How can I be an ally to non-binary people?

Its important that we all take steps big and small to be inclusive and supportive of one another. The charity Stonewall have created a useful list of 10 things you can do to step up and be an ally of non-binary people, you can find it here.

What are we doing to support non-binary members of the KCL community?

We have developed a toolkit full useful guidance on  how to support trans & non-binary members of our university community, we have also produced a map of the gender neutral facilities that can be found across our campuses and we have a wider LGBTQ+ inclusion resource hub, you can find all of this and more here.

We are committed to protecting the dignity of members of our university community. We want a university free of bullying, harassment, sexual misconduct and hate crime. You can find advice, support and reporting procedures on our Dignity at King’s pages.

Refugee week reflections

Refugee Week is a UK – Wide event marked annually since 1998. The week celebrates refugees creativity, resilience and contributions to society. The week coincides with World Refugee Day which is observed on the 20th June.  In this blog we reflect on how King’s marked the week and look at some of the practical ways you can support refugees throughout the year.


Refugee Week at King’s 

The theme for 2022’s Refugee Week was ‘Healing’. To make the week King’s hosted a series of events to connect, educate and listen. You can explore some of the events that were held here. Highlights included:

King’s Sanctuary Programme

‘The 10-year vision of the Sanctuary Programme is to realise the educational potential of forcibly displaced young people.’

In 2015 thr Sacnctuary Programe was formed in response to the huge issue of forced displacement around the globe, impacting more than 100 million people. The aim of the programme is to deliver projects that create positive opportunities for young people who have has their education disrupted due to displacement.

The programme is an umbrella for a number of projects at King’s College London. Initiatives Include:

STAR (Student Action for Refugees)

STAR us a student run organisation that is part of KCLSU. The student group raises awareness of issues affecting refugees and promotes the integreation fo refugees and asylum seekers into society.

The group offers a number of volunteering and campaigning opportunities. You can learn get involved with STAR here.

Make a difference 


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Women of Windrush

Windrush Day is marked annually in the UK on the 22nd June. Vanessa Bovell-Clarke (she/her) who works in Student Support & Wellbeing Services at King’s College London,  reflects on the women in her own family and the sacrifices they made so that those who followed them do not have to.


Vanessa sat looking out to sea at the Family House in Barbados

Vanessa at the Family House in Barbados.

For many people, the word ‘Windrush’ often brings to mind images of sharply dressed, young black men and women setting sail for new opportunities and a new chapter of life in the United Kingdom. More recently, the word has become more synonymous with this same generation as well and even their children being forcibly sent away from the UK, labelled as illegal immigrants by the very same government who first requested their help to rebuild a post-war Britain in the 1940’s.

With both my paternal and maternal grandmothers no longer living, I often wonder what they would make of the Windrush scandal having worked so hard themselves to build lives and plant roots in what I now call home.

Clotelle Eudene Roach (or Granny Clo as she was known to me) was born in Black Rock, St Michael on the island of Barbados in 1937, one of four children. Orphaned by the age of 15, Clotelle quickly took on a maternal role and played a huge part in providing for her siblings along with her older sister, Sylvie.

Granny Clotelle passport photo.

Granny Clotelle.

To make ends meet, she worked jobs in catering and as service staff, in the homes of the wealthy (and mostly white) in Barbados. The remnants of British colonisation were clear to see across the island, with limited opportunities for many black Bajans and much of the island’s wealth circling amongst direct decedents of plantation and slave-owning families.

In 1958, Clotelle set sail for the UK in search of a new destiny once her husband, Ricardo had travelled to London ahead of her (as was often the case for couples at that time) and found and prepared a place for them to live. Once settled in East London, Clotelle came into her own and took on a plethora of roles including seamstress and school lunch lady as well as offering her skills in baking and sewing to private clients and friends in the local community.

Further across to the west side of the Caribbean, Hermine Gertrude Morrison (aka Granny Babs) was born in Cave Valley, Jamaica in 1941, the second youngest of 11 children. In a similar fashion, Babs came to England after being ‘sent for’ by her husband, Lesley after he had settled in London in 1963. Just like Clotelle, Babs also threw herself into multiple jobs including work in a shoe factory, wig making, catering and hairdressing.

Granny Babs pictured on her wedding day.

Granny Babs pictured on her wedding day.

Growing up, my grandmothers were the physical embodiment of home, stability, family, strength and damn hard work. I witnessed them prepare gargantuan feasts of brown stew chicken, rice and peas, fried flying fish and cou cou (a cornmeal-based dish, also Barbados’ national dish) for crowds of family, friends and even neighbours on a regular basis. Both were regular attendees and very much involved in the church; some of my core memories include Sunday services and church fetes. They did this all whilst working multiple jobs and fulfilling the role of mother in an era that viewed parenting as very much a solitary and gender-conforming role.

It was only as I grew older, that I recognised the gravity of what they had accomplished. As part of the Windrush generation, being amongst the first in their families to move their whole lives to an unfamiliar country was a massive feat in itself. Facing daily racism in said country was an additional struggle; my Granny Clotelle told us of a time she was stopped by a white woman in the middle of a market, who tugged at the back of her skirt and said, “Let’s see your tail then?!”

This generation faced an untold number of difficulties and struggles most of which were steeped in racism, despite being such an integral part of rebuilding the UK economy, filling roles in nursing, catering, manual labour, hospitality, cleaning and much more.

I wonder about the mental health of my grandmother’s, the burdens they had to bear, the pain behind smiles and the silent struggles that were shared with no one but God. Throughout all of this, they were able to bring such life, culture and happiness to their families, which I will forever cherish. Their struggles and personal sacrifices serve as a reminder to me that I do not wish to and nor do I have to, continue to be ‘strong’ at the expense of my wellbeing. I am lucky to have multiple paths that lay ahead of me that do not necessarily include children and motherhood, but where I am encouraged to speak my truth about injustice and my pain.

November 2021 Barbados Independence Ceremony. Left to right: Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Dame Sandra Mason, Rhianna, Prince Charles.

November 2021 Barbados Independence Ceremony. Left to right: Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Dame Sandra Mason, Rhianna, Prince Charles.

In 2021, Barbados became a republic, officially renouncing the UK and it’s Queen as Head of State. Jamaica, alongside many other Caribbean countries are set to soon follow. This true independence feels like a poignant reflection of the next generation, as we prepare to live life to the fullest, honouring the Windrush legacy as we do so.


References/Relevant Articles:

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Windrush Day – King’s Legal Clinic Q&A

To mark Windrush Day we met with Shaila Pal, Director of King’s Legal Clinic to find out more about their recent work to support members of the Windrush Generation. 

The King’s Legal Clinic aims to further the education of KCL law students and promote social justice. The Legal Clinic has allowed King’s students to help victims of the Windrush scandal in practical and proactive ways. You can find out more about the Windrush Justice Clinic’s award winning work in this article


 

Tell us about yourself and your role at King’s. How did you get involved with this work?

I am the Director,  Supervising Solicitor and Senior Lecturer  at King’s Legal Clinic (the Clinic) which is part of the Dickson Poon School of Law.  The  Clinic aims to promote social justice and educate our students by providing them with experiential learning opportunities.   Our students work on legal cases and research projects under the supervision of lawyers either as part of an assessed module or on an extracurricular basis.   I teach and supervise clinic students and oversee the running of the Clinic, this includes developing new partnerships and clinics.

When the opportunity arose to develop a Windrush Justice Clinic (WJC) for King’s it seemed a perfect opportunity as  it aligned with the Clinic’s aim to proactively engage students in equality and race issues through experiential learning. Following the brutal killing of George Floyd , as a Clinic we had begun to  reflect more deeply on what our social justice mission means. The Clinic has long recognised the link between the hostile immigration environment and racism and have developed a range of immigration advice services to counter this. We also have an active strategy to work with marginalised  communities both in the UK and internationally.

I led on developing the WJC at King’s with great support from the Law faculty, the Clinic team and more widely at King’s.   There have been challenges along the way, but it has been a positive experience and really brough home how much my own values align with King’s. In the first part of my career I worked as a legal aid solicitor specialising mainly in refugee and immigration law. I had always been committed to working with marginalised  communities and   enabling   access to justice, the transition  to teaching  and clinical legal education was quite a natural one.

 

When we talk about the ‘Windrush scandal’, what do we mean?

People arriving from the commonwealth from 1948-1971 are commonly referred to as the Windrush Generation.  ‘Windrush’ derives from the ship ‘HMT Empire Windrush’ which brought one of the first groups of Caribbean people to the UK in 1948.   Many of the Windrush Generation were invited  by the British  government to the UK to take up jobs, for e.g in the newly formed NHS,  where there were shortages in the aftermath of WW2.     The people of these colonies or dominions , as there were then then known,  were given a type of citizenship   and were British subjects.  This accorded them a right of free movement within the empire and an ability to transmit their status to their children.

The essence of the scandal is that the Windrush generation , and their children,  who arrived in the UK  were residing here lawfully, they were either British or had  settled status. However the Home Office issued no formal paperwork  in many instances, as there was no legal requirement to do so.

In 2010,  the Home Office destroyed landing cards and other records  belonging to Windrush migrants, making it is difficult for Windrush arrivals and their families to prove their legal status following  changes in the Immigration system and notably the Government’s  2012 hostile environment policy.  The hostile environment policy aimed to make the UK uninhabitable for undocumented migrants by  tasking landlords, employers, the NHS, banks and many others   with the function of enforcing immigration control.  This meant that many of the Windrush Generation were  unable to prove their lawful immigration status , some were  detained and deported, lost their right to work and rent, access to bank accounts, claim benefits and access to healthcare etc.

In 2018, the UK government finally accepted that it had wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights to the Windrush generation.  Following acknowledgement of the scandal,  to date more than 12,000 people have received documents from the Home Office confirming they are now legally living in the UK.   In April 2019, the government established The Windrush Compensation Scheme (‘WCS’) which aims to provide victims with recompense for their suffering.

The WCS scheme has been extensively criticised and whilst attempts have been  made to improve it,  many consider it not fit for purpose. In November 2021, the Home Affairs Committee on the  WCS  found: ‘Instead of providing a remedy, for many people the Windrush Compensation Scheme has actually compounded the injustices faced as a result of the Windrush Scandal’.  There are numerous issues with the schemes;

  • Low uptake, only 5.8% of the people who are believed to be eligible for compensation have received a payment.
  • Complex application process requiring detailed calculations, supporting evidence and information.
  • Hostile approach to assessment of evidence.
  • Inadequate legal advice provision. Legal aid is not available.
  • Delay in decision making, for e.g. 23 people have now died without receiving a decision.
  • Low amounts awarded.
  • Inadequate appeals system.

Initial estimates had suggested the scheme could be forced to pay out between £200 -500 million and that at least 15,000 applications would be submitted.  Thousands of people have been affected by this scandal, but many are reluctant and often frightened to ask for help.  The estimate of eligible claimants has been revised down by the Home Office and current stands at 4,000 to 6,000 claims.

 

What does the Windrush Justice Clinic aim to do?

The WJC is a collaborative partnership made up of community organisations, law centres and university legal advice clinics striving;  to help victims of the Windrush scandal receive the compensation they deserve;    research  the accessibility  and fairness of the compensations scheme; and share and  disseminate the WJC  clinical  legal education  model of  collaboration.

King’s joined the wider WJC collaborative partnership  in  October 2021.   King’s part-funds a solicitor at Southwark Law Centre and 20 King’s students have been involved in;  supporting community outreach sessions to raise awareness of the WCS and build trust in the elderly Windrush community in Southwark;  and provide casework support to the SLC solicitor in complex cases involving vulnerable clients.

The WJC has carried out  preliminary research, led by the University of Westminster,  into unmet need for legal advice for people making claims under the  WCS which  found the process was to complex for claimants to navigate, legal assistance was required, the current advice framework in inadequate and there is considerable unmet legal need.

 

Have any of the cases you’ve worked on surprised you?

I have been struck how the Windrush scandal has impacted a wide variety of people from all walks of life and ages. King’s  WJC is representing clients from a variety of countries in the Commonwealth, including those with  Jamaican, Dominican,  Indian, Nigerian and Canadian heritage.   We have younger client’s who are victims of domestic abuse,  experiencing  serious problems  in accessing housing support due to the inability to prove their lawful residence.  An older client who’s highly successful  career in creative industry  was  stalled for a number of years,  which  had a  devastating impact on his life including  health issues, financial issues and the  resultant breakdown of significant relationships.  A daughter who  experienced  significant delays returning to the UK to care for her elderly and unwell mother. Many people’s lives have been impacted and it is humbling to hear about their experiences.

 

What lessons do you hope we have learnt from the treatment of the Windrush generation?

There is much to reflect upon and learn, this is something we are planning an event around to take place in either September or October 2022, so watch this space!  For  me the following are critical as a starting point:

It is important  to assess the root cause of   any  problem and  we have to address   the historic and ongoing racism which permeates immigration legislation in the UK.   Whilst there  has been some acknowledgment ,  there does appear some resistance.    It was recently reported that   the Home Office is  suppressing the release of   a government commissioned report  which finds racist legislation led to the Windrush scandal.

Public sector equality duties must be carried out in a meaningfully and robust fashion.  In 2020 the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that the Home Office has acted unlawfully by not properly considering how it’s hostile environment policies  affected black members of the Windrush generation.

A functioning and effective legal aid system is vital to protect people’s rights and keep a check on government.   When the hostile environment immigration policy was introduced, large parts of immigration advice was removed from the scope of legal aid,  therefore Windrush victims  were unable to access to   vital free legal advice.  Many Windrush victims  currently need legal  assistance with their  compensation claims in light of its complexity and the historical trauma suffered, legal aid is not available and this  is another reason for the low uptake in the compensation scheme.

A government compensation scheme should  be administered by an  appropriate  department  who is not viewed as the   perpetrator of the harm by the victims.  Distrust in the Home Office  has been cited as a reason for the low uptake in the scheme, the  rules of the scheme itself require a level of evidence which perpetuates the culture of hostile environment:

“From my experiences with the Windrush Compensation Scheme / Home Office, and their responses to my claim, it is almost like they are telling me the following: “We are really, really, sorry for punching you in the face, however, we are sure you’ve recovered now, it wasn’t that bad of a punch, so here is another punch in the face, but don’t worry about that one, because you’ve already recovered, please accept some tape and cotton wool to make a plaster out of.’” Windrush victim testimony provided to Home Affairs Committee

 

What is the future of the work of the WJC?

The WJC has been  great success so far ,   it won Best New Pro Bono Activity Award at the 2022 Law Works and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards.  Most importantly we  are supporting clients and providing our students with a valuable learning experience, where they can develop  an understanding of structural inequalities in society and work with clients from diverse backgrounds.

We want the WJC to help as many people as possible through casework  in partnership with Southwark Law Centre, build capacity in other Clinic’s and organisations across the UK,  and carry  out  further research on unmet legal need and systemic issues  with the compensation scheme.


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