Birmingham communities feel ‘ignored’ by Commonwealth Games bosses | birmingham

Organizers of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham have left various communities feeling “largely ignored” and failed to meaningfully engage them, according to a report.

The Birmingham Race Impact Group (BRIG) commissioned a panel of race equality practitioners and consultants to assess the Games in a number of areas including legacy, community engagement and procurement.

Across the board, the Games were rated red (urgent action required) and orange (work needed), with the report highlighting how communities feel there has been a ‘tick box’ approach to engaging with different ethnic groups in the city.

Specific issues he highlights include engaging with schools with a heavy focus on photo opportunities and waving flags “akin to traditional subjugation style opportunities for minority groups”.

The Birmingham 2022 Organizing Committee has strongly refuted some of the claims in the report. He said: “We are working hard to ensure that the benefits [from the Games] are available to everyone in the region and are proud that our workforce reflects the diversity of the West Midlands.

“While we are disappointed with the conclusions reached in the report, we appreciate BRIG’s input and will carefully consider their recommendations, in order to maximize every opportunity to benefit as many people as possible from all communities in Birmingham and the West Midlands. .”

The report says Birmingham’s diversity “has been harnessed as a positive factor on the ground to secure the Commonwealth Games”, but organizers “failed to meaningfully engage the city’s diverse communities”.

It says an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) forum set up to improve communication with minority groups “was less than conducive to generating trust and positive relationships”, and participants reported confusion about its purpose.

He says his findings “leave Birmingham’s diverse communities feeling they have been largely ignored” and that “the event’s diversity credentials are under serious threat”.

Mac Alonge, chief executive of The Equal Group, a diversity and inclusion consultancy, who was part of the report’s assessment team, said: “The Games have been positioned as this big thing for the region, for the economy. But people didn’t feel it, people felt frustrated.

“I think it’s probably too late for these Games, but there are lessons to be learned for future games and any future projects where an intense amount of capital is poured into a region.”

Tru Powell, director of the Aston Performing Arts Academy in the city, said his organization had been sidelined despite repeated attempts to get involved with the Games.

“I was really optimistic about the Commonwealth Games coming to the city. I was the first to jump up and say hallelujah, yeah it’s gonna be awesome, there’s gonna be so many opportunities,” he said. “But as things started to progress, I started to see who was benefiting from the Games and who, more importantly, was not.

“We are one of the largest local arts organizations in the city, working with over 150 inner-city youth between the ages of 6 and 30 each week,” he said. “I think it’s a disaster that we’re not involved in some way.”

The 2022 Commonwealth Games has faced diversity concerns since 2020, when there was backlash that only one of the 20 directors on the Organizing Committee’s board was of ethnic origin. ethnic minority, which led to the recruitment of other board members.

Earlier this year, a six-month cultural festival held alongside the Games, which some said had sidelined minority groups, was also upended.

A “truth and reconciliation action plan” promised by former Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive David Grevemberg to tackle the problematic history of the event, formerly known as the British Empire Games, failing to materialize .

Saima Razzaq, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Birmingham Pride, said: “Birmingham itself is rapidly becoming a city of two halves and this report should serve as a wake-up call for everyone to do better by understanding what really means intersectionality.

“In addition to the Commonwealth Games, this year marks the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, 60 years of independence for Jamaica, 75 years since the partition of India and 50 years of pride in the UK, for us at Birmingham Pride these stories are very much in mind, and you cannot celebrate or commemorate one without the other.

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: ‘The findings of this report are disappointing and it is clear that there are things to reflect on by a range of organizations across the city. We accept the recommendations contained in the report, as we share a strong commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

He said he had implemented a “widely hailed strategy to tackle inequality”.

Ian Reid, Birmingham 2022 chief executive, said: “We have a proactive and comprehensive program of engagement with local communities and through this dialogue we recognized that there were areas where we had more work to do. to do, to achieve all of our EDI goals and therefore took steps to make improvements, one of which was to work with BRIG.

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