Parkinson’s UK chose to stay quiet during the recent Black Lives Matter conversations. We believed that by giving others space to have their voices heard, we were playing a role in supporting their message. We were wrong.
We've made mistakes
Recently, as the global Black Lives Matter movement took action, Parkinson’s UK chose to step back. We thought that we needed to have solutions to add value.
Having spent time reflecting, we recognise that it was the wrong decision.
By not acknowledging what we know to be true — that racism is a problem in the charity sector as well as wider society — we reinforced the problem. In saying nothing, we failed to stand in solidarity with Black people in our community during a challenging time. It made us question if we’re doing enough to support people in BAME groups more broadly.
The tragic events that triggered recent action must lead to change. We’re determined to make sure that change happens at Parkinson’s UK.
How do we learn?
Right now, we don’t have all the answers, but we are listening and learning. We’re committed to finding the right actions for our organisation and our community. And we’re calling on everyone to hold us accountable to this promise.
Having not used our voice when we needed to, our first step is to empower colleagues and volunteers to be aware of racism and call it out when they see it. Whether that’s at work, in the charity sector in general or in their personal lives. Over the coming months, staff and volunteers will undergo training to recognise their own unconscious biases. They'll also learn how to have sometimes uncomfortable conversations, with confidence.
We don't meet the needs of Black people well enough. And we don't meet the needs of people from any BAME backgrounds as well as we could do. This is clear in the people who use our services and engage with us. Our senior leadership roles among staff and volunteers are predominantly white. Those two points are clearly linked. We’re never going to be able to reach out to all communities affected by Parkinson’s if the leadership of the charity is not being shaped by all sections of the community.
What are we doing now?
We’re making it a priority to work with our community and to fill in the gaps in our knowledge. This way we will better understand who we serve and the problems that they face. As we build strong local and UK-wide communities, we want to make sure that they’re inclusive and representative.
And we'll work with staff and volunteers to look at further measures that are right for Parkinson’s UK to adopt. We will make those decisions publicly available on the website, along with other strategic actions. We'll make sure that actions are properly resourced to ensure that they deliver change. This transparency keeps us accountable.
We can’t make change alone. We must engage and listen to our community on these issues. So, in that spirit, we’d love to hear from you — whether you want to share your ideas or just to tell us about your experiences.