Let’s Talk About Race


Let’s Talk About Race is a series of events, workshops and resources to help develop a better understanding of race and cultural diversity in Devon and build cultural competency/capability across public services.

Let’s Talk About Race is aimed at all staff, including senior and front line staff, but particularly those who work in services that respond to people’s personal needs such as mental health, child and adult protection, social care and domestic violence services. Councillors are also welcome to attend.

The workshops and events aim to provide a space for people to think and talk about race, ethnicity and culture in Devon, reflect on their capability/competencies in meeting the needs of ethnic minority communities (including White European, Gypsies and Travellers and mixed heritage people) and identify learning needs and changes needed in practice or policy.

Our objectives are to:

  • increase awareness of local resources and community organisations.
  • integrate cultural capability/competency into everyday practice.
  • understand the difference between ethnic culture and abuse.
  • celebrate Devon’s multi-ethnic community.
  • improve awareness of cultural needs including issues such as interpreting/translation, trust and community confidentiality.
  • develop confidence to talk about race and challenge racism.
  • encourage organisational culture change through more openness and sound attitude.
  • Why are we doing this?

    The make-up of Devon’s communities has changed and continues to do so, but has Devon kept up with the pace of change?

    Devon remains a predominantly White area, with only 5.1% of ethnic minority people (including ‘White other’) reported in the 2011 Census. This can mean there is a lack of knowledge amongst staff on how to meet the needs of ethnic minority people due to lack of regular contact.

    Anecdotal evidence from community organisations and staff indicates that there is poor practice towards ethnic minority communities, including a ‘fear’ of discussing race issues and inappropriate use of family members as interpreters despite there being arrangements for professional interpreting in place.

    A Children’s Safeguarding Peer Review in 2014 found that there was “inconsistent feedback from staff and partners in terms of how embedded equality and diversity is across the organisation” and suggested a “corporate refresh to raise awareness and understanding….to ensure it is a fundamental part of the normal operational learning”. A previous Ofsted Children’s Services report (2013) said that diversity was not being taken into consideration when making assessments, in particular, families with a history of domestic violence and abuse.

    In addition, there are a number of national and international influences:

    • Rotherham child sex abuse scandal and fear of addressing abuse where perpetrators are from a minority ethnic background.
    • a rise in far-right activity fuelling prejudice, stereotyping and hatred.
    • increased awareness of the need to address abuses including modern day slavery, human exploitation, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage which some ethnic groups have an increased risk of experiencing (noting that these abuses can also be experienced by the White British population and not all ethnic minority groups or people from high risk groups practice such abuses).
    • radicalisation to terrorism/extremism where religion or national interests are used as a justification for violence.

  • When will it take place?

    The project will begin with pilot workshops running between January and March 2016. Invitations will be sent to staff across partnership agencies.

    The pilot events are free and have been funded by partners. We will charge for non-attendance and we may need to bring in a charge for the full programme when it is launched – this will be decided after the pilot. We will also consider whether we run a partnership programme or a County Council only programme.

    We aim to put around 200 people through the full programme and they will become our ‘change champions’. Delegates will be expected to share their learning back in the workplace and challenge any poor practice.

  • Where will it take place?

    The pilots will take place in Exeter. We intend to run the final programme on an area by area basis using venues probably in Exeter, Tiverton and Newton Abbot. We will remain open to suggestions for venues.

  • Who is behind the project?

    The project has been initated by the Corporate Equality Officer, Equality and Outreach Assistants and Workforce Development Advisors from Children and Adult Social Care (Devon County Council). Advice and steer has come from Njenni Consultancy, equality leads at Devon Partnership Trust and Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, the Involvement and Equality Officer (People Services – Devon County Council) and the Excellence Not Excuses multi-ethnic forum (a consultation group run by Devon County Council with voluntary and community stakeholders).

  • Workshops

    Workshop 1 – Understanding culture

    How would you define your culture and identity? What is culture? How can you be a culturally sensitive practitioner?

    This workshop will explore our own and others’ identity using exercises and case studies to build skills and develop our understanding of working with cultural diversity.

    Workshop 2 – Improving practice for ethnic minority communities

    A practical workshop explaining how to deliver good customer service by understanding the needs of ethnic minority communities and building trust. This workshop will involve community organisation representatives and cover things like interpreters, carers and diversity monitoring.

    Workshop 3 – Understanding, recognising and supporting victims of racism

    What does racism look like and how does it escalate? What impact does it have on people’s  self esteem and mental health? How do you challenge all forms of racism (including unintentional clumsiness)? How can you support black and minority ethnic staff and how powerful are things like ‘unconcious bias’ and organisational culture in influencing attitudes and behaviour?

    Workshop 4 – It’s not racist to challenge abuse

    How to spot the signs and challenge abuse where involvement links to an ethnic group – without fear of being accused as racist. This workshop will explore issues such as FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and forced marriage. This workshop will be delivered by Alexis Wright from NJenni Consultancy who is a lead trainer of FGM in Devon.

    Workshop 5 – Meeting the needs of Gypsies and Travellers

    These workshops are currently up and running. So far, three events have taken place in South Hams, Exeter and Cullompton to a variety of workers within children’s services. This workshop aims to provide delegates with:

    • improved knowledge of the needs of Gypsy/Traveller communities and what works well to meet those needs.
    • enhanced understanding of process and procedure that has been shown to effectively support Gypsies and Travellers.
    • development of an action plan to support changes in practice.

    Here’s what people have said about the workshops so far:

    “Relaxed”  “Very informative” “Fact based” “Myth busting” “Interesting debates”.

    Workshop 6 – Finale and future

    These workshops won’t be part of the pilot (instead there will be a review meeting with all stakeholders). When the full and final programme is up and running this will provide delegates with an opportunity for:

    • reflection and feedback.
    • seeking further advice/support.
    • continuing through Action Learning sets.
    • understanding their new role as change champion.
    • identifying further learning needs.

  • Events

    We are developing ideas for a ‘World Food and Internet Cafe’ – a lunchtime event where staff can meet and greet people from ethnic minority communities and organisations. It is likely this will take place in October. More about this will be published soon.

    There are a number of events staff can get involved in to understand race and cultural diversity better. Some of these are social events such as music and community festivals including:

  • Bookings

    Administration and bookings will be managed by Safeguarding Training Admin. Details will be published here shortly.

  • Resources

    A library of resources will be developed under the Let’s Talk About Race project. If you have any suggestions please email us. Please also browse the main equality pages where there is a lot of information about communities, policy and practice.

  • Contact

    Network and consult online with minority ethnic people and English learners via
    Devon Grapevine.