Celebrating Black History Month 2021

Kate Henderson, 01 October 2021

October marks the start of Black History Month (BHM) which gives us all the opportunity to celebrate the outstanding contributions of Black people in the UK and learn about, and tackle, racial inequality and social injustice.

I’m delighted to open the NHF’s celebration of Black History Month 2021 and have the opportunity to outline how we’ll amplify the voices and stories of Black colleagues from across the sector and within our own organisation.

Events in the last 18 months have made it impossible to ignore the lived experiences and continued discrimination suffered by Black people in the UK and worldwide. We’ve seen the death of George Floyd in the US and the Black Lives Matter movement alongside the coronavirus pandemic and its disproportionate impact on Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities.

Driving change

As a sector that thrives from diverse and vibrant workforces and communities, we have an important role to play in examining how we can dismantle systemic and institutional racism, one that goes beyond simple words of support.

It’s important to acknowledge my position as a privileged, white woman because to fight racism and other forms of prejudice, we must recognise that we all have different experiences and perspectives.

The NHF is an actively anti-racist organisation. For me as a leader, this means giving a platform for black colleagues to share their experiences and perspectives. It means not only listening to those stories but driving meaningful change to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Encouraging other leaders in our sector to do the same is also an important part of my role; that’s why I’ve written this blog so others can take the lead and drive change.

Improving diversity and equality is key to tackling social injustice, it goes to the heart of who we are as organisations and what we stand for as a sector. It’s time for us all to stand up and drive progress towards a more diverse cohort of leaders across the sector to inspire more diverse talent, build trust within our communities, and develop inclusive environments for people to flourish.

Celebrating BHM

Black History Month 2021 is a great opportunity to celebrate and recognise Black history in the UK. Last year despite the pandemic it was great to see a significant expansion across the sector in the range of activities offered throughout the month, to staff, residents, and communities.

Whilst our work on equality, diversity, and inclusion is a priority throughout the year, in the light of recent events, the need to celebrate and recognise the importance of Black History Month is more necessary than ever. I’m really looking forward to what we, and others in the sector, have planned throughout October.

This year the NHF will use our platform to shine the spotlight on leading black figures in social housing including BME National members who have excelled in their fields and helped shape our sector today. This includes:

  • BHM webinar: in conversation with Louis Julienne¸co-founder of the Federation of Black Housing Organisations (FBHO) on 14 October.
  • Interviews from leading Black/BAME figures in social housing including Llewellyn Graham, Chief Executive at Nehemiah, and Gina Amoh, Chief Executive at Inquilab and Cym D’Souza, Chief Executive at Arawak Walton.
  • Video from Olive Jones, Director of People at NHF discussing BHM 2021, opening up about her cultural heritage and the importance of diversity in the workplace.
  • Social media quotes – What does Black History Month mean to you? Quotes from BME National members and NHF staff to be shared on Twitter and LinkedIn throughout BHM 2021.

Throughout Black History Month 2021, we’ll share a range of content on our website and across our social media channels. I invite everyone to join us and get involved with Black History Month as we want to foster a sector where we celebrate our people and promote the importance of equality.