Luton council celebrates year of progress on equality, diversity and inclusion

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But there’s still more to be done, says council leader

Luton’s councillors have welcomed another year of progress on equality, diversity and inclusion as they mark the second anniversary of the council’s trailblazing Black Lives Matter Motions

The motions were passed in January 2021 following the protests marking the murder of George Floyd in the USA – and called on the council to address the "historic structural and systemic racism that exists" and to adopt ten points to counter it.

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Councillors also welcomed the launch of the Fairness Strategy - Our Journey Towards Social Justice, and agreed the priorities for the year ahead.

The tow is making huge strides towards equality for allThe tow is making huge strides towards equality for all
The tow is making huge strides towards equality for all

These priorities include launching an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) network for Luton; achieving a consistent approach to collecting and monitoring EDI data; strengthening the EDI coordinator team to develop their roles and continued impact; improving council service planning to ensure fairness is a core component and building on the work of Luton’s Fairness Task Force and continuing to work closely with voluntary and community sector partners.

Cllr Hazel Simmons MBE, leader of Luton Council, said: “This is an opportunity for us to examine the progress we have made over the last year, to learn the lessons from what we have done and to reaffirm that the council is serious about creating a town that is inclusive and fair for all.

“We have made progress but we know there remain many challenges and we need to do more to tackle inequality and promote diversity and inclusion.”

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Over the last year the council has celebrated a number of achievements to make Luton a better place for all.

Achievements reported over the last year include signposting schools to the directory of diverse curriculum materials and to organisations including The Black Curriculum. Exclusions have reduced and attainment at Key stage 2 by Black pupils is above the national average in reading, writing and maths.

In March 2022 the council launched the Employment and Skills Strategy for Luton – improving access to opportunities, tackling structural barriers and upskilling our residents

It also supported the Luton Employability Day at The Chiltern Academy in May. This inspirational event, hosted by the Reach Foundation, brought together employers, professionals and role models from the Black community.

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Meanwhile, the Building Better Opportunities ‘Support into Employment’ programme has already supported 625 individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The council has also been reviewing issues of disproportional impact in relation to stop and search and use of force implementation with Bedfordshire Police, and working with local community organisers on the Windrush Scheme to promote compensation and reparations, and to press the Home Office on problems with the scheme.

Luton Rising has supported events that promote awareness and understanding, including the Windrush awards, carnival, Afrofest and the council supported Sankofa event, while the council’s principal partner for arts, culture and heritage, The Culture Trust Luton, is diversifying collections, working with specialists to include Windrush projects and exhibitions into the main collections at Wardown and planning a major Windrush 75 event.

Luton is also the first town to become a ‘Marmot Town’, to reduce health inequalities.