by Ray Douglas, Equal Equity

50 black / PoC lead youth organisations and practitioners from the Youth Work sector assembled in Leicester to attend The Power of Now, the first national Youth Work and Racial Justice conference.

This conference was a celebration of the work Equal Equity has done over the past 2 years in partnership with the National Youth Agency. Equal Equity is a project that works to capacity build black and Youth workers of colour into leadership, management and policy including The Impact Incubator which provided training and capacity building for 21 black/POC led organisations to scale and become more sustainable. 

Leigh Middleton CEO of NYA covered the sector wide issues around racial justice including the disparities of those in leadership positions and the work that NYA has been doing to commit to developing work with Black and Practitioners of colour. Ayub Seedat from Here for Youth explored themes of working at the interface of communities, islamophobia and faith led practice as well as the need to develop open access provision with other communities, 

‘A fantastic and inspiring day’ – Violence Reduction Network Leicester

Ann-marie Christian, an expert in the field of safeguarding, highlighted the importance of safeguarding with an intersectional lens, adultification and covered cases such as Child Q. This was followed by a panel discussion with Marsha Powell (CEO – BelEve), Yasmin Blackwood (CEO- I am my sister CIC) and Roma Fisiha (Activist/Community Organiser). The panel discussion emphasised the ongoing examples of  inequality that Child Q experienced and the lack of protection experienced by young black females especially within organisations that have a duty of care to protect them. Contextual safeguarding was also discussed in terms of adults protecting young people outside in places such as parks, online and neighbourhoods. The conclusion was that there is  a need for specific funding which focuses on working with black girls by those from their community. 

Great discussions and speakers’ – Institute for Youth Work 

The conference was enamoured with a fireside chat with Dr Martin Glynn who provided insight into post traumatic growth and shared knowledge around creating a legacy and working with the community. He provided insight into his lived experience and his academic activism which spans over 35 years across prisons, community settings and academia.

‘An eye opener ’ – Women for change 

The finale of the conference was bookended by the launch of the Equity awards which was born out of the lack of recognition given to Black/POC led organisations within the awards industry. Dr Martin Glynn was awarded the lifetime achievement award for his continuous work with communities and racial justice.

Leigh Middleton NYA CEO and Abbee McLatchie Director of Youth Work at NYA were awarded a youth work and racial justice award for their tireless work behind the scenes over the last 2 years working alongside Equal Equity.

All in all the conference was a success and ended with celebration, happy tears and networking.

After the conference, Leigh Middleton, NYA CEO said,

“Holding the first ever youth work and racial justice conference with our partners at Equal Equity was both an inspiring event, alongside being a milestone moment for the youth sector.  Anti-oppressive practice is a core element of youth work practice, however it is essential that as a sector we look internally at our practice, career pathways and training opportunities to ensure that we are promoting a equitable place for all within our sector.  I am proud of our partnership with Equal Equity and the strides forwards we have collectively made to capacity build Black/PoC Lead organisation within the youth sector, and look forward to continue to drive forwards systems change.”

and Ray Douglas from Sociological said,

“Youth work is built upon anti-oppressive practice and the turnout for this conference in partnership with NYA is proof that the youth sector is front and centre in creating a more equitable society for all.” 

‘Powerful day’ – St4and – Manchester 

‘Without community there is no liberation’ – Audre Lorde

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