Liberate

Why #blacklivesmatter

Over the last few days there has been a polarising of opinion on social media regarding the #blacklivesmatter protests. The lack of social distancing, violence and vandalism seen in the UK and abroad has provoked people to dismiss protestors as unthinking sheep, to condemn the protests as disrespectful to frontline COVID-19 workers and, at the extremes, to issue ‘keyboard warrior’ death threats against all those who take part in the protests – whether they do so peaceful or not.

For some the criminal actions of a small minority of protestors are the excuse they need to mentally disengage from the reasons why the thousands of other people are protesting. This is perilous. However much you abhor, regret or feel outraged by the pictures on the news of Whitehall monuments graffiti-ed it is important to look behind those images to understand why people are so moved to take to the streets, despite social distancing, and why the #blacklivesmatter movement has gained global traction now.

When the history books are written the answer will be a complex mix of factors, not least of which will be recent UK scandals, such as Grenfell Tower and the Windrush generation deportations. What is certain is that #blacklivesmatter is bigger than one man, George Floyd. For his family and friends it will remain very much about him, for others the manner of his death has become a symbol of how black lives are still seen as less than white lives.

In the UK the government’s paper into why BAME people have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 has not yet delivered an answer and is a long way from delivering a set of actions to address the inevitable findings that BAME people are some of the lowest paid workers in the UK, fulfilling frontline roles, living in substandard, overcrowded, unsecure accommodation, with poor underlying health. This week at a Downing Street briefing Alok Sharma MP was asked why the ‘community engagement’ section of the report had been removed and when it would be included. He dodged the question.

I attended the protest in People’s Park and was two metres away from a black family that had two health care workers in it. I don’t know their personal motivations for being there, but I do know that Britain’s health service could not function without them and thousands like them and that we owe it to them to ensure that BAME voices are part of the COVID-19 investigation – not as a tick box ‘community engagement’ exercise, but genuinely leading the investigation. It is critical that people from BAME backgrounds are part of any group making decisions involving BAME lives, but all too often they (and other minority groups) are an after-thought, if their inclusion happens at all. This lack of inclusion goes to the heart of the #blacklivesmatter protests.

If we don’t place a value on diversity in our society and organisations we will continue to fall short. The question of civic statues highlights this issue perfectly. One person’s worthy philanthropist is another person’s slave trader. Without diversity within the group taking decisions about who should be honoured you end up with statues that reflect a narrow view of history and tend to look just like the group making the decision of who to honour.

At the protest in People’s Park, which was socially distanced, well-organised, done with the permission and co-operation of the authorities, and respectful to Jersey’s BAME community, the speakers were thoughtful and thought-provoking. One speaker threw down a challenge to Jersey’s leaders to sit down with them and talk about what it means to be a black person in Jersey. I hope that this challenge will be accepted and the opportunity it affords made the most of.

The opportunity to connect with someone other than your immediate circle is rare and vital for our growth as individuals. Unless we take these opportunities to talk and listen we won’t find out that we share a common humanity, and without that connection we will forever be locked into an ever-descending spiral to the bottom on social media.

Black lives matter, but to understand why #blacklivesmatter we must stop the ‘white noise’ on social media and really listen to the experience of life in Britain for people from BAME backgrounds. Only then do we stand a chance of making the changes necessary to address the inequalities that the BAME community and other minorities experience daily and that compels people onto the streets to protest.

by Vic Tanner Davy

Liberation75

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Channel Islands and the start of the end of WWII, and as we continue to be living in a restricted way due to coronavirus, it seems a good moment to consider what freedom means. The Arthouse Jersey project The Face of Liberation posed the question of islanders, ‘What does freedom mean to you?’, as they took their photos earlier this year for a huge photo montage. A huge photo and a huge question.

Liberate’s vision is for an inclusive society where all citizens of the Channel Islands are accepted equally by government, organisations, society and themselves regardless of their personal characteristics. If you cannot access the education you deserve, if you cannot get the job or promotion you are qualified for, if you cannot register the birth of your biological child, if you cannot have your identity legally recognised, if you cannot live without fearing assault, if you cannot enter premises on the island because no consideration has been given to your needs, if you cannot feed, clothe or house yourself, how free are you? And, how free is the society in which you live?

For us as a charity, then, freedom means nobody being left behind in our islands. Easy to say, much harder to achieve. Our work involves holding up a mirror to government, corporations, charities and individuals and asking the question, ‘Is this what inclusivity really looks like?’. It is easy to be complacent when you live in a democracy that is economically rich and to assume that everyone is doing as well as you. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the fault lines in British society in a starker way than any other national happening in recent times.

This week Liberate was due to be part of a human rights conference in Jersey that would have seen some inspirational international speakers visit the island to discuss how far we, as an island, have come from Liberation Day to today, and how far we have yet to travel.

When the world saw the horrors of the Second World War it made a promise. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. It set out a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations and, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected in order that future generations should not have to suffer what millions had suffered between 1939 and 1945.

The Declaration remains an ambition that 70 years on has not been fully realised. Countries still go to war, commit genocide, sponsor terrorism, sanction torture, violate human rights, silence free speech, rig elections and deny citizens access to basic essentials. This will continue to happen until populations – everyone, you and me – speak up and take a stand against those who profit from the denial of others’ freedoms.

As individuals in Jersey, this means engaging with politics and electing those who seek to unite not divide us, telling our leaders in the workplace that we want to work for ethical organisations who put people before profit or power, intervening where we see people being treated unfairly in society, and volunteering our personal resources to help those who need our support. The UN’s 17 Global Goals provides organisations and individuals with ways to start acting on inequality in human rights.

The world was forever changed 75 years ago. Britain was not the same country in 1945 as it had been in 1939. The joyous celebrations of VE Day and Liberation gave way to a period of grieving, hardship and austerity in the years that followed. 75 years on and the crisis we are living through is also likely to give way to a period of severe deprevation. We are going to need to tackle the post-COVID period with a determination, similar to that shown 75 years ago, that the world will be a better place following the death and hardship we have endured. It will take our collective effort to ensure that nobody is left behind and that we truly are a society in which everyone feels free.

Liberate lauches counselling support service in response to COVID-19 emergency

Liberate is launching its new counselling support service, but its focus has changed…

Like many other charities, Liberate’s income for 2020 dropped off a cliff edge three weeks ago. It was there one day and gone the next! Since then Liberate has been looking for ways in which it can use its resources to support the island’s effort to manage COVID-19.

Vic Tanner Davy, CEO of Liberate, said: “We had been working on a new counselling offering as part of our HIV work and it was ready to launch when the coronavirus outbreak arrived in Jersey. As we watched the news and heard stories from people struggling with various mental health issues due to the crisis, we realised this was the service that we could repurpose to respond to the islandwide effort.”

The new service is offered to anyone who needs it for no charge. Due to anticipated demand, clients will be offered three sessions of one hour per week over video link or telephone. Liberate aims to assist those experiencing stress, anxiety, panic, depression, grief and other mental health issues due to the conditions imposed by the crisis, such as:

  • Change in routine;
  • Separation from family and friends;
  • Loss of freedom;
  • Being quarantined in a home that is unsafe or hostile;
  • Easier access at home to addictive substances;
  • Taking on more care responsibilities due to a lack of access to regular care for a family member with a disability;
  • Lack of employment/boredom;
  • Job insecurity;
  • Debt;
  • Uncertainty over own disease status;
  • Concern about loved ones being infected;
  • Bereavement.

Liberate hopes that the addition of extra mental health support into Jersey’s system at a low level will provide capacity to mental health professionals higher up the chain to deal with more acute cases. In particular, the ability for mental health professionals in the Health Service to support their colleagues on the frontline, who will need help in the coming weeks to cope with stressors including home pressures, workplace stress and traumatic exposure.

If anyone would like to use the service, they can sign up at https://liberate.je/counselling/

Liberate partners with Les Landes School to launch DIFERA Jnr

On 31 January 2020, Liberate and Les Landes School are launching the DIFERA Jnr scheme with a day of diversity and inclusivity activities created by the school’s pupils and staff.

DIFERA is Liberate’s accreditation scheme for organisations that has members across the Channel Islands from all business sectors.

Paddy Haversham-Quaid, CXO Liberate, said: “We wanted to include schools in the DIFERA scheme, but knew that the offering to them needed to be a bit different as it had to include students as well as staff. We decided to partner with Les Landes school to pilot a junior variation of the DIFERA scheme as we were aware of the work they were already doing in this area.”

As well as auditing the school as a workplace for its staff, DIFERA Jnr also contains a day of activities for the pupils to encourage them to think about diversity, inclusion, fairness, equality, respect and acceptance in their lives. A staff champions group is also given training that enables them to train their colleagues and gives them material they can use and adapt in their lessons.

Vicki Charlesworth, Headteacher of Les Landes, said: “We were delighted to be asked to be the DIFERA Jnr pilot as we are a school that tries to embed the DIFERA values into everything we do. The year groups have each been asked to work on one letter of DIFERA and the day of activities has developed from there. Les Landes is the first Jersey school to be accredited in Philosophy for Children, and we will be using this framework to facilitate the discussion and enquiry work with the children. DIFERA Junior also supports our Rights Respecting School work; we are committed to promoting children’s rights. We hope that it will be a fun and thought-provoking day for staff and pupils.”

The DIFERA Jnr scheme has the ministerial team’s support and will be rolled out across other primary schools this year. If primary schools would like to find out more about the scheme, they can contact paddy@liberate.je

The development of the scheme’s training material was supported by RBC Wealth Management.

Jersey Pride In Sport Week

Jersey Pride in Sport week is taking place from 3-9 February 2020.

Racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, sexism and other prejudicial language can all too often be heard on the pitch or in the changing room, and gets dismissed as ‘banter’. The words we use matter and make the difference between an inclusive space or one that feels exclusive and intimidating for people from minority groups.

This is why we are asking as many sports people as possible to show their support for ‘sport is for everyone’ by wearing rainbow laces to celebrate Jersey Pride in Sport week, ideally during your sporting activity, or before or after for sports that do not involve shoes or boots requiring laces. Whether you are a school, football or rugby team, cycling or walking group, aerobics or dance class, the free rainbow laces demonstrate your commitment to making sport an inclusive and discrimination-free space.

You can collect your rainbow laces from the offices of Jersey Sport at the FB Fields and EY’s office in Liberation House, Castle Street. Laces will also be handed out during Jersey Sport’s launch of the new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for Sport and Physical Activity workshop on 5 February 2020.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a pair of rainbow laces and let’s make this a Pride in Sport week to be proud of! Please share pictures of your team in their rainbow laces across social media using: #JerseyPrideInSport and tagging Instagram: @EYCICareers @JerseySportje Twitter: @EYnews @JerseySport @LiberateJersey Facebook: @EYChannelIslandsCareers @jerseysportofficial @LiberateJersey

Jersey Pride in Sport week is supported by EY: “At EY we believe everyone should be respected for the skills and talents they contribute and the impact they make – not by their race, gender or sexual identity. We are pleased to support this initiative to help make sport everyone’s game.”

Sport really should be for everyone, but there are some groups for whom significant barriers to participation in sport exist. In the UK, more than 55% of LGBTQ+ people are not active enough to maintain good health, 34% of people with a long-term impairment are inactive compared with 21% of those without a disability and 89% of sport participants are from white and 11% from non white  backgrounds.

Changing these statistics requires all of us to understand what we can do make our clubs, teams, schools and associations inclusive.

Jersey Sport’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for Sport and Physical Activity workshop launching on 5 February 2020, but repeated throughout the year, has been developed in partnership with Liberate and with the support of EY.

It aims to give players, captains, coaches, referees, umpires, volunteers, club officers and other supporters an introduction to issues around diversity and inclusion, and is as essential for sports clubs and associations as safeguarding, mental health awareness and first aid – which is why it is part of Jersey Sport’s SportsMark Essential scheme. For details of all the scheme workshops, please visit: www.jerseysport.je/workshops

Contact Jersey Sport – info@jerseysport.je or 757700 – for more information.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December), Liberate are reminding Jersey organisations that they have until 31 August 2020 to make reasonable adjustments to physical features in their premises.

Many organisations have already made adjustments to their provisions, criteria and practices (“PCPs”) and provided auxiliary aids that include people with disabilities in workplaces. Now, with just a few months to go until the two year grace period within the Discrimination (Jersey) Law runs out, organisations need to be making those adjustments to the physical features of workplaces, too.

Paddy Haversham-Quaid, CXO Liberate, said: “A number of organisations have said to us that they aren’t sure what a ‘reasonable’ adjustment is for their business, and many fear that adjustments will cost them a lot of money. This is why we have launched a new scheme called Accès aimed at helping organisations navigate making adjustments to ensure their business is inclusive for people with disabilities.

“We are offering an audit of an organisation’s premises and training to help organisations to understand what is reasonable for their business when it comes to making physical adjustments. We have a group of Accessibility Ambassadors, with different disabilities, who are going to assist us with the audits to demonstrate to organisations, in a practical way, where they can improve.

“Organisations that are audited, make adjustments and undertake the training are given our Accès badge to demonstrate to employees and customers that they take accessibility for Jersey’s disabled community seriously. We hope that the Accès kitemark will become a trusted symbol for people in Jersey with a disability.”

To find out more about Accès, please click here.

Liberate reveals the results of their research into HIV support in the Channel Islands

Liberate have found that more needs to be done to combat the stigma of living as HIV positive in the Islands. More than thirty years on from the first cases of HIV in the Channel Islands, misinformation, myths and prejudice persist, making it difficult for islanders living with HIV to be open with those closest to them. Only 58% of islanders living with HIV had told a family member of their condition.

One year ago on World AIDS Day (1 December) Liberate asked Channel Islanders to assist in a research project to provide the charity with information about the nature of the work that needs to be done in the Islands to provide more support for those living with HIV. As part of their research, Liberate also visited Terrence Higgins Trust, the National AIDS Trust and StopAIDS, and Liberate interviewed The Orchard Clinic (Guernsey), the States of Guernsey’s Health Educator, Brook Jersey, YouMatter and the GUM clinic in Jersey.

As a result of the research, Liberate have produced a report with 13 recommendations for the Third Sector (government and charities). A copy of Liberate’s report can be downloaded here.

Vic Tanner Davy, CEO Liberate, said: “As a charity, the priority for us is clear. We need to do more to reduce stigma in the Islands and that starts with education – whether that is in the form of new government information campaigns, or workshops that give people the facts about HIV, or making it part of sex education lessons in schools. When someone comes out as living with HIV it should result in support for that person; the fear remains that it will result in rejection by friends, family and colleagues.”

Additional work that the report highlights is the need to combat the spread of HIV by encouraging people to get tested and know their status, and by making PrEP (a drug that can stop HIV infections from being passed on) available on the health service in both Bailiwicks.

Liberate have the support of Terrence Higgins Trust for their work, which will commence in 2020. Dominic Edwardes, Executive Director of Communications at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We fully support work in the Channel Islands to update people’s knowledge of HIV. We’ve made huge medical progress in the fight against HIV that means someone diagnosed early and accessing treatment has the same life expectancy as anyone else. But public perceptions haven’t kept up with the pace and stigma and discrimination remain key issues for people living with HIV. We’re keen to work with Liberate to help shape the Channel Island’s HIV response, including through stigma training and increasing access to HIV testing.”

Pride 2019

CI Pride 2019 started on Friday 6 September 2019 with a reading by children’s LGBT+ author, Olly Pike, at the Jersey Library. Olly presented the Government of Jersey Assistant Education Minister, Jeremy Maçon, with sets of his books for all Jersey primary schools. The event was sponsored by MasonBreese and we would like to thank them for supporting this initiative.

Many Jersey businesses had decorated their premises and raised the rainbow flag since the Monday of Pride week. The honours for biggest splash this year went to RBC who lit up both towers of their building and had four flags on their flagpoles. Thank you to all the businesses, large and small, who participated and showed their support. There were many more this year making St Helier feel welcoming.

On Saturday 7 September 2019 at 2pm the CI Pride parade started off from Royal Square, taking a new route to the waterfront. The parade was led this year by the Jersey Scout band wearing their rainbow ties. The crowds lining King Street applauded and cheered as the parade filled the length of main shopping street from the Square to Charing Cross. Turning into Castle Street, the parade then went right through the financial district, cutting through the Esplanade car park. The tunnel between the car park and the Waterfront was an unexpected bonus as paradegoers realised they could get the tunnel to “boom” from their drums, shouts and whistles.

On the Waterfront, the parade was joined by the Police, Fire and Ambulance vehicles who then led it into the Pride village.

As the head of the parade reached the Freedom tree the 50m long rainbow banner was rolled out, giving the media and photographers a great shot of the banner, the marina, Elizabeth Castle, the sun, sea and sand. It encapsulated Pride on the Beach.

Estimates put the number of attendees at over 5,000 making it the biggest CI Pride yet.

The Village

The Pride village was bigger and better than before, with more stalls, more charities and more family-friendly activities.

Thank you to HSBC, who made the quiet zone possible; thank you to Lloyds, who made the family fun zone possible; thank you to RBC, who sponsored the silent disco; and, thank you to Barclays, who also supported elements of the Pride village.

The Pride stage was compered by Ollie Bailey-Davies and Tigger Blaize, our friends from Liberate Guernsey. The opening speeches were made by Mark Cox from our lead sponsor the Channel Islands Co-Operative Society; Olly Pike; and, Christian May, who set the tone for this year’s more political Pride, making the point that CI Pride reaches out to those people around the world who do not enjoy the same freedoms that we do in the Channel Islands.

The entertainment was headlined by the London Gay Big Band, who really got the party started, and fabulous sets from local acts including Jamie Boylan, Sister Disco and Inside Job.

Down on the beach, activities were taking place with a drag race, tug of love (not war), sandcastle competition and the very popular kilted yogis.

The Theme

Honouring what makes us different – Affirming what we have in common

On 7 September 2019, for the first time ever, Channel Islands Pride was on the beach of St Aubin’s Bay with Elizabeth Castle as our backdrop. Pride on the Beach highlighted two aspects of island life of which we are rightly proud – our coastline and our heritage – but it also celebrated what is arguably the most important part of Island life: community.

#PrideOnTheBeach was about saying loudly and proudly that this is everyone’s Island and the LGBTQ+ community is integral to Jersey’s story: past, present and future.

Pride celebrates community at its best: affirming our common humanity while honouring our differences, where we fight for everyone’s right to live free from prejudice, persecution and invisibility. At a time where violence is growing against LGBTQ+ people in many places in the world, it’s important for everyone, be they LGBTQ+ or allies, to stand together, show solidarity and celebrate the beauty of diversity.

Channel Islands Pride is all-inclusive event, open to anyone who wants to support the LGBTQ+ community and to celebrate and promote equality for all in the Channel Islands and across the world.

Thank you

Pride 2019 could not have happened without our generous supporters and our volunteers who helped to marshal people and equipment on the day of Pride. Thank you to the CI Pride team, led by CI Pride Director, Christian May.

Thank you to The Channel Islands Co-Operative Society, our leading sponsor, Citi and G4S, our major sponsors.

Thank you also to Magic Touch, who also created and sold all our merchandise, Delta, Jersey Water, and Vibert Marquees. Thank you to the Parish of St Helier, the States of Jersey Police, St John Ambulance and the Jersey Waterfront Development Company, who make the logistics of Pride so much easier.

Thank you all for your contribution to making CI Pride 2019 the biggest yet!

I am a… Woman in a Male-Dominated Profession

I am a woman working in a male-dominated profession. The profession doesn’t start off as male-dominated – there are as many female graduates as male. It’s when you look at the top of the profession, its leaders, that you notice a significant lack of female representation. I don’t have time here (or the word count!) to discuss why that is this case and it is a complex issue, so I am going to talk about two particular concerns which I have encountered as a female leader at the top of my profession. These may seem minor to you, but when you have to contend with them over a long period of time, they can be challenging and often upsetting.

As I climbed the career ladder and started to manage people, I was often called bossy and (worse) a female dog. Initially I didn’t attribute this to my gender, but thought I needed to improve my management-style and that I was at fault. I criticised myself. Over the years though, I started to analyse these instances and realised that I hadn’t done anything wrong- I was leading my team as I should and also in the same way as my male colleagues, who received no such criticism. It is worth noting here- I was criticised more by women than by men! I thought that this criticism had stopped – I reached the top of my career. Recently, I went to a networking event with a junior female colleague. After networking separately for a while, she came to tell me that one of our competitors (a man) had just said to her that I was “over-powering” and “controlling”. She was shocked and had told him that was rubbish and that she enjoyed working with me. I told her we should take it as a compliment- he had been trying to poach her! Deep down though, I was upset both for my young colleague and for myself.

On the subject of networking: it’s a challenge for women. Many of the networking events which attract our clients are male-dominated sporting events: golf, rugby etc. When organising your own networking events, try thinking of events which would be interesting to both sexes: wine tasting, a family fun sports day or horse racing perhaps. Male-dominated sporting events are a necessary evil- where personal alliances develop into working relationships. Your male competitors will be there!

I am a… Mother in a Same-Sex Marriage

I am a mother of one-year old twin girls. I also happen to be in a same-sex marriage, which led to some challenges and obstacles when my daughters were born last year. Currently, in Jersey, when a lesbian couple have a child (through assisted reproduction), only the birth mother is named on the birth certificate and is recognised as a legal parent. In contrast, in the UK, the birth mother’s spouse or civil partner is also named on the birth certificate and therefore has parental responsibility. The situation in Jersey represents an inequality, as when different-sex couples register a birth, the husband is automatically registered as a parent. Due to the inequality that exists in Jersey, my wife and I had to go to court to obtain parental responsibility for myself.

My wife and I had spoken about starting a family for many years. After marrying in the UK in 2015 we felt that we were in the right position to bring children into a stable and loving relationship. The IVF journey was long, stressful and very costly, and during this time we moved to Jersey.

The process of going to court to obtain parental responsibility also took time and money (in legal costs), at a time when we wanted to focus our time and resources on raising our two beautiful babies. During this period of time, when we were going through the legal process, our daughters were left in a very risky position. As the law stands in Jersey, our daughters could have been left parentless if anything had happened to my wife before our court date.  I have also found this process very difficult on a personal level. The day when two parents go to register the birth of their child / children, should be an exciting, celebratory day. For me, it was tinged with sadness. I looked on, as the registrar recorded our daughters as only having one parent (my wife), even though they were conceived using my eggs and we had been through the whole journey together as a couple.

I believe that the law in Jersey needs to change, in order to address this inequality and most importantly to protect children. Potentially, some fairly straightforward amendments to the existing Children (Jersey) Law 2002 could resolve this.