Windrush funding row: Sheffield council vows to lead the way in stamping out systemic racism

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Sheffield Council says it wants to lead the way in stamping out systemic racism – after it was criticised for awarding Windrush project funding to an organisation with no black leaders.

Ignite Imaginations launched an initiative encouraging Sheffield’s Windrush generation to share their stories after wining a bid from the council.

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Now the council’s leadership advisor for the co-operative executive and executive member for poverty, fairness and equality, Councillor Abtisam Mohamed, says it is considering the options.

Sheffield City Councillor Abtisam Mohamed. Picture: Chris EtchellsSheffield City Councillor Abtisam Mohamed. Picture: Chris Etchells
Sheffield City Councillor Abtisam Mohamed. Picture: Chris Etchells

She said the council had applied for a £15,000 grant to fund Remember Windrush projects in 2019, with an aim of sharing memories of those from black Caribbean communities.

“As part of the submission, £10,000 was allocated by the Church Urban Fund to the council to fund community partners and £5,000 was allocated to our archive services. As facilitators of the Equality Partnership, the council worked with partners, who had submitted an earlier bid from the African Caribbean community, to distribute the funding available to community partners,” Coun Mohamed added.

Work was curtailed due to the pandemic, but African Voices Project, Action Collective, Mistaught, SADACCA and SYSCO were all given funding.

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Coun Mohamed said: “All of the £10,000 community fund, went to black-led community organisations. The further £5,000 that was allocated to the council’s archive teams was also curtailed due to Covid19 and we were not able to complete the full project in the last year. However, a short extension was granted in late March 2021 to continue the project into this financial year.

“Ignite Imaginations were successful in this bid, however we acknowledge the concerns raised by some members of our Caribbean communities, as do Ignite, who have asked to withdraw from the project.

“We will now consider the options available to make sure this work can continue with the best interests and representation of our Caribbean communities, we want them to be involved throughout and at the heart of these decisions.

“This is the kind of oversight we are working hard to address, to lead as an organisation stamping out systemic racism in Sheffield. It’s important for us to learn so that we can shape a better approach to the recording and collation of historical data that gives a reflection of the rich and diverse history of our Windrush generations here in Sheffield.”