Jan 11th was my first visit to the House of Lords, having previously attended meetings in the House of Commons.
The occasion of my visit was to facilitate a discussion around racism in education as one of seven topics covered, aimed at harnessing social capital within Black communities and encouraging active participation in politics to drive social change.
The inspired event was organised and hosted by Mems Ayinla and Anwulika Elliott, young, educated Black women who having experienced racial inequality in their own educational journeys, use their knowledge to effect change.
Around 40 people took part in the event, which began with introductions from the hosts and facilitators: Paulette Williams (Leading Routes), Deborah Gabriel (Black British Academics), Larissa Kennedy (Education Officer & Deputy Student Union President at Warwick University), Busayo Twins (The Access Project), Kojo Apeagyei (Shelter, Bastion, Outliers), Chante Joseph (Chair, Bristol University Student Union) and Sanmeet Kaur (Get-In Westminster).
As facilitators we managed the dialogue with attendees who were organised into groups, moving through each over the course of the evening. Discussions explored a variety of key issues that impact Black students and academics in higher education: the attainment gap, admission practices, mental health facilities in universities, representation in senior leadership and funding.
In addition to collecting information on lived experience, we also gathered recommendations to address the problems identified, that will be used to develop a report, which will be circulated to key stakeholders.
It was a privilege to be invited to take part in such a productive, constructive and meaningful event and uplifting to see the deep community commitment and collaborative spirit, enabling the active involvement of young people in the political processes necessary to drive change in the HE sector that is long overdue.