Jermaine Atiya-Alla: We need to listen to the concerns of BAME community - and take action

Many Torbay residents may not be aware of the effects racism has on the BAME community

Many Torbay residents may not be aware of the effects racism has on the BAME community - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Guest columnist Jermaine Atiya-Alla, Torbay Council's first black councillor, on how do we make black, asian and minority ethnic lives matter in Torbay?

Cllr Jermaine Atiya-Alla

Cllr Jermaine Atiya-Alla - Credit: Archant

The death of George Floyd along with the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as Covid-19, has highlighted a massive disparity in the lives of the BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) community here in Torbay and the rest of the UK that has been going on for many years before the events of this year.

As Torbay's first ever black councillor, I feel that I have an extra responsibility to ensure that Torbay Council listens to the concerns of the BAME community and takes action instead of paying lip service this issue.

As we know racism is a very emotive and sensitive subject, especially in an area like Torbay where the majority of people live are largely white and many may not be aware of the effects that racism has on the BAME community.

For the past few months I have been working with the council's leadership and senior officers trying to develop a review that will help guide the council in it's thinking on future policy to help enrich the lives of Torbay's BAME community.

I was delighted that last week Torbay Council's Cabinet has given the go-ahead to allow a review into racism in the Bay, and myself and the council are also heartened by the positive response this review has received.

The review will start in September and will ask 'How do we make Black, Asian and minority lives matter in Torbay?'

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The review will be one that actually gets out into the community instead of sitting in a stale committee room in town hall.

We particularly want to hear from the BAME community who have experienced racism in the Bay and also to share your ideas on how we can tackle this.

Together we can make a change and make Torbay a place that we can all live, work and visit in tolerance and respect for all societies.