Over 2000 people joined our Emergency Community Conversation last night. As one of our panellists, Dr. Elizabeth Henry, mentioned, the global devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, also offers us a 'Kairos' moment. I last experienced a similar moment back in 2013, when visiting Atlanta Georgia. I spent the day with Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley a civil rights giant and as a result of our brief encounter, I was totally inspired and completely committed to pushing forward with the creation of Ubele.
Kairos, a word from Ancient Greek, means ‘a right, critical or opportune moment’, From the outpouring of comments, suggestions, feedback and questions viewers posed as well as offers of support and assistance received, it demonstrated that people from communities across the globe have had enough of what has been unfolding and are ready and committed to act collectively.
Alongside panels of committed officials, professionals, community leaders, and activists who presented a variety of perspectives and insights on health and wellbeing, community needs, and gender issues, our audience created 3 hours of written narrative which clearly shows growing frustration with the overall government response. Issues including data availability and use of it to inform practice; the need for robust research; the needs of very marginalised communities who have no recourse to public funds; the use of the term BAME and the need for courage at this moment time were all raised as legitimate concerns. As the death toll and the number of those in critical care rises, the lack of community voice became increasingly evident. Our response was to try and surface as well as galvanise this voice and BAME communities rose to this challenge. This response was led by a group of emerging leaders who worked tirelessly over 8 days to co-create this successful event and offered all of us a great opportunity for intergenerational working!
We also launched the #WeNeedAnswers campaign urging the government to ditch its plans for a review and to conduct an independent public inquiry. Although this might take years to achieve we are omitted to pushing this demand right to the doors of Number 10!
A week is a long time in politics, so they say. Well within this ‘new normal’, a day feels like a week and a week feels like a month. Over the past week, we collaborated with Patrick Vernon (Windrush campaigner and strategist extraordinaire!) to launch of the Majonzi Bereavement Fund which once up and running will offer free counselling and therapeutic support to those affected by the pandemic as well as small grants for memoria to help families remember their loved ones who passed away.
This past week also saw me do my first-ever TV interview which was certainly a steep learning curve. I would like to say a special thanks to Kumba, the young Assistant News Editor, who guided and supported me through the whole process.
Going forward, we plan to assess the outcomes of the Emergency Community Conversation and to produce and disseminate a short report. There will be more events (watch this space) which will be combined with other actions within our Covid-19 response which will hopefully ultimately support the emergence of a national action plan over the next 12 months.