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Three and a half years after the murder of George Floyd, and despite considerable attention in civil society to racism and anti-racism, too little has changed in day-to-day experience for Black and Minoritised Ethnic people in mainstream civil society according to the findings of a new report, ‘Warm Words, Cold Comfort: UK civil society’s ongoing racism problem’ released today by ACEVO and Voice4Change England and authored by Dr. Sanjiv Lingayah, co creator of the Home Truths 2 programme.

This report is informed by a survey of over 130 Black and Minoritised Ethnic people working in mainstream civil society and is the first major output of the Home Truths 2 programme, designed to challenge and support mainstream UK civil society to take serious practical action on anti-racism and race equity. The insights and experiences reflected in this report will guide the programme’s work to build a sector that takes meaningful action on anti-racism and race equity.

The report shows that while there are some signs that organisations are signalling that they are against racism, they are not taking practical steps to change experiences. Key findings shed light on urgent challenges and hope for progress.  The report reveals some alarming realities:

  • 77% of respondents have experienced or witnessed racism within civil society within the last five years;
  • 59% doubt the commitment of civil society leaders to combat racism effectively;
  • 68% of respondents have felt the need to ‘tone down’ their behaviour or to be on their ‘best behaviour’ in order to fit into mainstream civil society.

Amid these negative experiences and perspectives, the report also highlights that there is hope.

  • 46% of contributors feel that anti-racism/race equity is taken seriously in their organisation; and
  • 65% are hopeful that progress will be made on anti-racism/race equity in the organisation in which they work.

Whether this hope is well founded will largely depend on the courage and commitment of mainstream civil society leaders and organisations to undertake the hard emotional and practical labour that of moving towards anti-racism and race equity. If there is enough willingness, transformation is possible. If not, then mainstream civil society will be deemed to have offered warm words on racism, but these words will offer cold comfort and count for little.

A call for transformative change

The full report offers comprehensive insights and offers a textured account of the realities of working towards race equity and anti-racism in mainstream UK civil society more than three years on from the murder of George Floyd and the publication of the first Home Truths

The report kicks off a programme of wider activities for The Home Truths 2 over the next 18 months . The “Further, Faster” programme designed to support chief executives and senior leaders already active in anti-racism and race equity practice within their organisations to make rapid and meaningful progress, will open for applications in the new year. For those ready to make anti-racism and race equity core to their organisation’s mission and take action, register your interest to be kept informed and be the first to know when applications are open.

About the survey

The survey ran online from 17 July 2023 to 12 October 2023 and was open to Black and Minoritised Ethnic people with recent or current experience of working in UK mainstream civil society. It gathered a total of 139 valid responses. At the time of survey completion, 129 out of the 139 contributors were working in civil society – the vast majority as employees.

The largest representation in the survey was of people working in organisations with annual income of between £1 million and £5 million. Other respondents were fairly evenly distributed, including between organisations with annual income of £100,000 or less and £50 million or more. It is noted that discrimination faced by Black and Minoritised Ethnic people may be compounded by multiple factors in addition to their ‘race.’ Most survey respondents fell into intersectional categories, as a result of which they may be subject to discrimination on multiple grounds.

About Home Truths 2

Home Truths 2 is a programme of work from ACEVO and Voice4Change England designed to challenge and support mainstream UK civil society to take serious practical action on anti-racism and race equity. Over the course of the next 18 months, Home Truths 2 will engage stakeholders from across civil society, including senior leaders, staff and those working within and alongside civil society organisations in a targeted practical programme of activity. Home Truths 2 will offer practical resources and guidance to mainstream civil society in general. The work includes approaches to calculating and remedying ethnic pay disparities, integrating race equity into the core mission and bringing senior leaders together to drive forward their anti-racist and race equity practice.

The elements of the programme will contribute to converting the positive words from mainstream civil society on anti-racism and race equity into practical and powerful change.

Following the publication of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, 15 race equality and migrant rights organisations (full list below) have today called for an independent review into the extent of institutional racism in the Home Office and whether its immigration policies are in accordance with equality law around racial discrimination.

The Windrush Lessons Learned Review outlines that the UK’s treatment of the Windrush generation was caused by institutional failures to understand race and racism in relation to the Macpherson definition of institutional racism, as set out in Lord Macpherson’s landmark Inquiry report(1999) into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

The 15 race equality and migrant rights organisations, including the Runnymede Trust, are also urging the government to make a full apology to those affected by the Windrush injustices and to make the Windrush Compensation Scheme more accessible and to introduce independent oversight of the scheme, as a matter of urgency.

Further recommendations include scrapping the Hostile Environment and appointing an independent advisory group and chair reporting directly to No. 10 and the Cabinet Office to implement the findings of the Windrush Lesson Learned Review, and ensure the inhumane injustices of the Windrush Scandal are not repeated.

The full set of recommendations are:

  • The treatment of the Windrush generation was a terrible but predictable injustice. The Review shows that government ignored repeated warnings and has still refused to apologise and compensate people who were detained, deported and in some cases died having been wrongfully treated. The government must right the wrong, beginning with a full apology to those affected, and making the compensation scheme process more independent and accessible.
  • The Review shows why the Hostile Environment must be scrapped. None of the measures cited in the report, such as Right To Rent, have been repealed, the Home Office continues to treat people badly while the current Immigration Bill continues with policies and framing that will lead to further injustices.
  • The EHRC to undertake an independent review into whether the Home Office’s immigration policy and practices are in accordance with equality law, including its understanding of racial discrimination and the extent of institutional racism in the department.
  • The Review also reveals poor workplace practices and culture in the Home Office. It is long past time for systemic reforms in decision-making, to ensure caseworkers get better support and are able to raise concerns with senior managers, and for leadership to send a stronger message that it is committed to a more open and empathetic organisational culture.
  • Deportations of those who have lived in Britain since they were children should now end. Further, citizenship policy (including fees) should ensure that those who have the right to citizenship are provided with that citizenship, and racially discriminatory clauses in the 1971 Immigration Act and the 1981 Immigration and Nationality Act should be repealed.
  • The government should commit to an extensive, well-funded programme of support for grassroots and voluntary sector services that run outreach and support programmes for survivors of the Windrush injustice. The Hostile Environment is the latest in a catalogue of injustices experienced by this community over many years, and so this support should be extended to the wider cause of racial justice.
  • The Windrush injustice reflects the Home Office’s failure to listen to those affected and organisations that pointed out the likely impact of the Hostile Environment. Government has refused to listen to civil society, dismissed concerns out of hand and attacked the integrity of those raising genuine concerns. The government must implement the WLLR recommendations on better engaging outside government, including groups that criticise its policies, if it is to avoid another similar injustice.
  • The government should establish an independent advisory group and chair that reports directly to Number 10 and the Cabinet Office on the implementation of the Windrush Lesson Learned Review.

The full list of race equality and migrant rights organisations supporting these recommendations are:

The Runnymede Trust; Race on the Agenda; Voice4Change England; JCWI; Migrant Rights Network; Jewish Council for Race Equality; Traveller Movement; Race Equality Foundation; Friends, Families and Travellers; Olmec; BME Forum Croydon; Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre; Council of Somali Organisations; Caribbean and African Health Network; Black Training and Enterprise Group

Dr Zubaida Haque, Deputy Director, the Runnymede Trust said: 
“The findings of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review are alarming, wide-ranging and profound: a terrible injustice was done to the Windrush generation, but the events and policies leading up to it were entirely predictable. Wendy Williams, the Independent Reviewer, makes it very clear that the injustice was not an accident, but a result of institutional failures to understand race and racism, in comparative ways as defined by Lord Macpherson’s definition of institutional racism over 20 years ago.”

“It is now incumbent on this government to not only “right the wrongs” suffered by the Windrush generation (and other ethnic minority groups) as a result of the government’s hostile environment policies, but also to understand how and why Home Office culture, attitudes, immigration and citizenship policies have repeatedly discriminated against black and ethnic minority British citizens. Unless the issues around institutional racism are meaningfully addressed, we risk the same mistakes and injustices being repeated.”

Windrush campaigner Patrick Vernon OBE said:
“It has been two years since the Windrush Scandal was exposed highlighting how the government systematically, as part of the Hostile Environment, abused the human rights and dignity of British citizens from the Windrush generations and descendants. We now need effective leadership from the Prime Minister to swiftly implement the recommendations with independent oversight of the Home Office. The report is more than lessons learnt, it is an indictment of the nature and impact of structural racism in government and how politicians and senior civil servants over the years have failed to have a duty of care and respect to the Windrush Generation”


It is still relatively rare for funders to collaborate both with other funders and organisations working on the frontline. Here, in an article originally published by Trust and Foundation News (the membership magazine of the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF)) , Debbie Pippard of Barrow Cadbury Trust and Cathy Stancer of Lankelly Chase join with Andy Gregg of ROTA (Race On The Agenda) and Jeremy Crook from BTEG (Black Training and Enterprise Group) to outline the co-creation and progress of a new alliance fighting ethnic inequality.

Funder collaboration is an increasingly normal part of the way foundations work. Issues as diverse as migration, mental health stigma, early intervention, women and multiple disadvantage, and child sexual exploitation are being approached by funder collaboratives of varying shapes and sizes. It still appears to be a new idea, however, to explicitly set out with the aim of co-creating priorities and actions with those working in NGOs in the field – in other words a genuinely mixed alliance. This is the story of one such alliance, one between race equality organisations and funders.

It started with a call from the Big Lottery Fund, which led to a loose alliance of funders coming together over a shared concern about ethnic inequality and social justice in late 2015. This was a diverse group working on a wide range of issues – health and wellbeing, poverty, criminal justice, arts and heritage, education, extreme disadvantage. The common thread is a concern about the stark ethnic inequalities that are apparent in systems and communities. In the criminal justice system, just to give one example, Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities are over-represented in prison: approximately 25% of prisoners are from a BAME background, compared with being only 13% of the wider population. The situation is worse for under-18s: over 40% of those in secure youth institutions are from BAME backgrounds, up significantly from 25% a decade ago. Despite decades of activism and legislation it is clear that we are not born equal: race and ethnicity still have a substantial impact on life chances and experiences.

Collective dialogue

Rather than funders deciding on a course of action, in early 2016 the funder alliance began a collective dialogue with key race equality organisations, co-creating a number of priority areas. This was and remains a complicated thing – power dynamics are at play, there are questions of who is and is not at the table. Can expectations raised by the coming together of so many funders be met? Are funders really prepared to be open about their processes and to change their practice?

We haven’t resolved these issues but we are still in dialogue, being as open as we can be with each other, building relationships and reminding ourselves of our shared purpose when things get difficult. Our work has started to crystallise around two issues, and jointly we are exploring the development of a strategic communications project, and a co-ordinated response to the government’s Race Disparity Unit (which will synthesise data on racial inequalities in public services).

Hate given licence

The work of our fledgling collaborative was given an added urgency by the Referendum last June and the spike in hate crime that followed it. It is unlikely this represented a sudden upsurge in racist sentiment. Instead it seems that the rhetoric surrounding the referendum, and the post-referendum environment, has made people with racist or xenophobic views feel more comfortable expressing these openly. The election of Donald Trump and the rise of the far right across Europe adds to the sense of a continuing trend and to the importance of renewed engagement with this issue and solidarity with those directly affected.

In our collaborative, the race equality organisations reported on a growing unease and sense of threat felt by BAME organisations and communities. Funders were keen to identify some ‘quick wins’. Together we came up with ideas, which we offer as potentially helpful to others in the funder community who want to show solidarity with those affected:

  • Talk about inequalities, race and racism. Mention it on your website. Name it as an issue. Keep it on the agenda.
  • Talk to race equality organisations to find out what has happened post-referendum. Reporting mechanisms for hate crime are fragmented so it is not always easy to get a complete picture – supporting existing or new reporting mechanisms, or funding race equality bodies, is helpful.
  • Use your convening power to bring people together to discuss the issues highlighted by the referendum and subsequent events and to consider how to respond together.
  • Support work that brings people from different communities together in meaningful shared activity or in dialogue. Under the right conditions interpersonal contact is one of the most effective ways to reduce prejudice between majority and minority group members.
  • Review your own policies and procedures for unintentional bias against BAME organisations. Increasing your permeability might help with this – consider offering a secondment to someone from a local BAME organisation or inviting a review of your procedures.
  • Few trusts and foundations are leading by example: our senior management teams and boards lack diversity. Are there steps that you can take to improve this, or to bring diverse voices into your organisation?

Reviewing our practice

As well as working collaboratively with the race equality sector, the funder group continues with its own separate cycle of meetings, at which we discuss and reflect on our own processes and learn from each other. Members have responded in a range of ways. For example, some have undertaken equalities audits or reviewed our grant-making practices. Several of us have made ourselves more open to BAME organisations through secondments. We are learning to be comfortable saying we haven’t got it right and we want to improve.

All trusts and foundations that want to increase their contribution to race equality are very welcome to join the funder alliance, the funder/race equality sector collaborative or both. We don’t have all the answers but we think working in the spirit of genuine partnership, with all the joys and challenges it brings, is the right thing to do.

For more information contact Cathy Stancer or Debbie Pippard


RobBRob Berkley, Director of the Runnymede Trust, explains why they are working to end racism this generation.

Over the last weeks we have witnessed commemoration of the March on Washington, the high-point of the US civil rights movement. A timely reminder of the difference that movements can make, but also a challenge to this generation to take action to end injustice. In 2013, racism is still a problem which pervades our society. Since our inception in 1968 Runnymede has been fighting to achieve race equality in the UK. We’ve done this through research, network building, and policy engagement. But recently, we’ve been feeling as if this isn’t enough. Race equality seems to have been filed in the ‘too difficult’ box. In order for discrimination to stop, the struggle against racism needs to be part of the public consciousness. We need to change our approach; we need everybody to not just feel that racism is not good for society, but to act to eliminate it.

Although the Equalities Act 2010 protects ethnic minorities from racial discrimination, your ethnic background still significantly impacts your life chances. In education, if you are from a Black Caribbean background you are three times more likely to be excluded from school, and data revealed by the BBC shows that 87,915 racist incidents were recorded between 2007 and 2011 in British schools. After school, youth unemployment is experienced by one in five white men, but one in two young black men. When seeking work you will have to send out 78% more job applications if you have a ‘foreign sounding’ name. On the street, you will be 7 times more likely to be stopped and searched if you are black than your white counterparts, and 2 times more likely if you are Asian. In health, black and Asian people with dementia are less likely to receive a diagnosis or receive it at a later stage than their white British counterparts. Chillingly, 106 people have been killed in racist and suspected racist attacks since Stephen Lawrence’s death in 1993.

It is everybody’s responsibility to change this. Racism is a product of society and as a society we have the power to end it. It can be solved, if we work together. We believe that it everybody makes changes in their own lives, workplaces and communities, we can cause a fundamental shift where treating people equally and accepting difference will become the norm.

This September we are launching ‘End Racism This Generation’, a movement to end racism in the UK. The key to its success will be informing people about the continued existence of racism and the damage it causes to all of us, and sharing knowledge of what works in combating it.
Fighting for racial equality is everyone’s business. End Racism This Generation will create an online platform where those who want to make change can gather, learn, and create new networks for change. We will also be hosting events all around England and Wales to connect people together and spread the message.

People will be able to pledge the action they plan to take on the End Racism This Generation website. Their pledges will be mapped by area, which will allow individuals, organisations and businesses to see what is going on around them. It will present the opportunity for people to create partnerships to end racism. Crucially, these pledges will inspire others to take actions, and show what works.

We want the pledges to be non-restrictive, no action is too small, no pledge too insignificant. We want everybody to feel empowered to end racism, regardless of the resources at their disposal. A pledge could simply be to find out more about racism in the UK or to spread the word on how to tackle it through social networks. On a larger scale, organisations could pledge to show how their work already reduces racial inequality or use the momentum of the campaign to launch new activities. Businesses can pledge to work harder to ensure employees reflect the make up of the population at all levels of the business, including the boardroom. Schools and universities can pledge to take action in ensuring equality of educational experience for its minority ethnic students. And everybody can support the campaign by a donation, by giving money, time or offering the resources at their disposal.

We want this collective action to signal a shared commitment to work towards a Britain without racism; a Britain which accepts differences between people but treats them equally in all aspects of their lives. No one person, or organisation can achieve this by themselves but together we can end it.


You can find out more about the campaign on the Runnymede Trust’s website, on Twitter and on Facebook.