Calls for council to rethink decision to end contract with anti-racism charity

A former professional footballer and anti-racism charity patron has joined the calls for Northumberland County Council to reverse the decision to withdraw its funding.

Monday, 1st April 2019, 4:57 pm
Updated Monday, 1st April 2019, 5:03 pm
Education manager Sue Schofield with some of the entries in the Show Racism The Red Card English Schools Competition at the Linskill Centre in North Shields last week. Picture by Jane Coltman

As revealed last week, the local authority has decided to end its contract with Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC), an educational charity which provides workshops, training sessions and other resources for schools.

The council says that the contract only offered sessions for a small number of schools and teachers, and that it believes ‘available funding can be better targeted to enable a more broad range of resources for schools which covers all areas of potential discrimination’.

However, among those calling for a rethink is Sky Sports regular, Chris Kamara, who is a patron for SRtRC.

Middlesbrough-born ‘Kammy’ tweeted on Friday: ‘I am calling on Northumberland Council to, if it’s possible, please reverse your decision on withdrawing funding for our charitable organisation! Baffling when the education in schools on racist attitudes is needed more than ever.’

This was backed by, among others, the MP for Wansbeck, Ian Lavery, who said it ‘couldn’t be more spot on’, adding that the council’s ‘Tory administration need to reverse this shocking decision’.

Ashington town councillor Liam Lavery has also started a petition calling for the funding cut to be reversed – https://tinyurl.com/yxvzdtnv – which has been signed by more than 500 people since Thursday.

The North-East based charity, which uses footballers and their high-profile status to help educate children, has been providing workshops in Northumberland schools for the past decade, but was informed at a recent meeting that the council will not be funding this into 2019-20.

Last week, founder and chief executive Ged Grebby said: “We’re obviously not going to argue against any other equality work the council might do, but at the same time as we’re being recognised nationally by the Government as a provider of anti-racist education, we’re being told we’re not needed.

“Racism is rising in society, we know racism is rising in schools. Racism, anti-immigration views, Islamaphobia, they’ve all been increasing for 20 years or more, so we are needed now more than ever.”

A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said: “Unfortunately, this contract only offered sessions for up to 25 of the county’s 165 schools and fewer than 30 teachers accessed anti-racist training last year, whereas it is our ambition that every school in the county should have an equal opportunity to gain support.

“The council is clear that any form of prejudice or discrimination is unacceptable and works in a variety of ways to ensure that schools have the resources they need to tackle issues.

“In line with a number of other councils in the region, we have taken the decision that available funding can be better targeted to enable a more broad range of resources for schools which covers all areas of potential discrimination.

“We also work with Northumbria Police and others to ensure that robust messages about the impact of involvement in any form of hate crime is available free of charge to any school.

“We are reassured that where schools value the SRtRC workshops, they will continue to book them directly, allowing their children to benefit from additional anti-racism messages.

“We have met representatives of Show Racism the Red Card, including the chief executive, and have fully explained the reasons behind our decision.”

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service