This page contains selected articles from recent editions of ROTA's Journal "Agenda". If you would like to receive future editions of Agenda you can join ROTA by completing our membership form.

Race on the Agenda (Autumn 2012) Agenda 36


  1. Welcome, Elizabeth Henry
  2. The learning environment: Repeat after Cornwell West, Ryan Mahan, Project Office, ROTA
  3. Young people: Back to the basement: racism and young people in London schools, SE1 United
  4. Parents: Education and Black middle class parents: racism exists regardless of class, Dr Nicola Rollock, Lecturer, University of Birmingham
  5. Voluntary and community sector: Shaping the future: race and racism in 21st century schools, Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer, ROTA
  6. Policy: Classical civilisations, the London Inquiry and the continued ambiguity about race, Debble Weekes-Bernard, Senior Research & Policy Analyst, Education, Runnymede Trust
  7. The riots, one year on: Where now the Big Society: some reflections, Karl Murray, Head of Employment and Research, Black Training & Enterprise Group (BTEG)
  8. ROTA research: Free schools, Emma Rees and Manuel Casertano, Volunteers, ROTA
    Race inequality and primary education, Billy Wong, Volunteer, ROTA
    ESOL, Eleanor Stokes, Volunteer, ROTA







Race on the Agenda (Summer 2011) Agenda 35

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  1. Welcome, Elizabeth Henry
  2. From the editor, Joy Francis
  3. Policy: Where's the fairness?, Anthony Salla
  4. Localism: Making race equality local, Omar Khan
  5. Education: Unequal attainment, Barbara Nea
  6. Prisons: No sign of change, Olga Heaven MBE
  7. Public health: Health check, Joy Francis
  8. Violence against women: Not in my name, Hannana Siddiqui
  9. Social impact bonds: Pursuing the benefits of bonds, Neil Reeder


Policy: Where’s the fairness?

Anthony Salla

After being in power for just over a year, the coalition government has been accused of adopting a 'slash and burn' approach to reform with little evidence of fairness. Anthony Salla expresses concern at the 'bells of injustice' that are chiming loudly in the ears of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and third sector organisations as they navigate uncertain waters...

Read the full article here.


Prisons: No sign of change

Olga Heaven MBE

Female foreign nationals who end up in prison are a forgotten minority. Media negativity and disinterest from the coalition government means that these women’s human rights are compromised, exposing them to an increased likelihood of reoffending, warns Olga Heaven.

Read the full article here.

Race on the Agenda (Summer 2009) Agenda 34

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  1. From the editor
    Rahana Mohammed, Head of Policy, ROTA
  2. Black, Asian and minority ethnic people and mental health and wellbeing
    Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer, ROTA
  3. Mental health and BAME communities – a national perspective
    Melba Wilson, National Programme Lead, Mental Health Equalities National Mental Health Development Unit
  4. Mental health inequalities – a view from the inside
    Lord Adebowale CBE, ROTA Patron and Chief Executive, Turning Point
  5. New government, the public and the next step in tackling multiple needs and exclusions
    Oliver Hilbery, Project Director, MEAM
  6. Beyond tokenism: participation of mental health service users from racialised groups in mainstream user involvement initiatives
    Dr Jayasree Kalathil, Researcher and Writer
  7. Canerows and Plaits – an evaluation
    Dwight Reynolds, Secretary of Canerows and Plaits
  8. After the Bennett case – perspectives and solutions
    Alison Cobb, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer, Mind
  9. Making our voices heard – three case studies
    Homeland or hostland? a view from the Centre for Armenian Information and Advice Camden Chinese Community Centre – the holistic service
    Tageero – giving help and support to the Somali community
  10. Black communities, mental health and the criminal justice system
    Deryck Browne, NACRO Mental Health Unit
  11. Tackling mental health and racial inequalities in the Big Society
    Patrick Vernon, Chief Executive, Afiya Trust


Black, Asian and minority ethnic people and mental health and wellbeing

Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer, ROTA

Setting the scene for this issue of Agenda, Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer at ROTA, investigates mental health inequalities in terms of outcomes, and looks at access and experience of using mental health and related services.


The most recent Count Me In census, 1 which monitors the ethnicity of inpatients and people subject to the Mental Health Act, found that 22 per cent are from BAME communities, even though we make up only eight per cent of the general population.

Inpatient admission rates are over three times higher than average among mixed white/black and black groups, with rates nine times higher...........

Read the full article here.


Mental health inequalities - a view from the inside

by Lord Adebowale CBE, ROTA Patron and Chief Executive of Turning Point

Mental health services for BME communities have come a long way. There has been recognition of the historic inadequacies of the interaction between these services and BME communities, as well as acknowledging the need to increase access to early intervention services within mental health.

The fear of mental health services from BME communities has created a barrier which prevents people accessing help when they most need it. The results of the 2009 Count Me In census of inpatients and patients on supervised community treatment in mental health services show this fear is somewhat justified. Barbara Nea's article on page 6 discusses this in more detail.

The tradition of both institutional and overt racism has meant BME communities feel less comfortable accessing mental health services. As a result, mental health problems are more likely to........

Read the full article here.

Race on the Agenda (2009) Agenda 33

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  1. Editorial
    Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Policy, ROTA
  2. DNA Database
    Adam Cooper, Intern, ROTA
  3. Women, girls & serious group offendinding
    Carlene Firmin, Senior Policy Officer, ROTA
  4. Infrastructure: Why fund it?
    Debbie Pippard, Head of London Region, Big Lottery Fund
  5. A new vision and language for race equality
    Karen Chouchan, Director of Research & Policy, Equanomics UK
  6. Somewhere decent to live: Accommodation and Irish Travellers
    Phil Regan, London Development Officer, Irish Traveller Movement in Britain
  7. The impact of the recession on BAME groups
    Richard Davey, Policy Officer, Capacity Builders
  8. Celebrating ordinary black men - The REACH national role models
    Matthew Ryder, REACH Role Model and barrister with Matrix Chambers
  9. The Praxis Project: Britain's race legislation as the benchmark
    Veena Vasista, Independent Strategic Advisor
  10. Stop & search
    Estelle du Boulay, Director, Newham Monitoring Project
  11. Will change come in the UK?
    Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Policy, ROTA
  12. 10 years on 28
    Doreen Lawrence, Director, The Stephen Lawrence Trust


A NEW vision & language for race equality

Karen Chouchan, Director of Research & Policy, Equanomics UK

The vision for Equanomics (Equality and Economics) UK is to achieve genuine race equality by:
reconnecting economically and politically disenfranchised communities across the UK; presenting an economic analysis of discrimination; and growing a movement that will change the UK's language and approach on racial and economic equality.

Recently, we have been most struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics; a
variation in our approach that remains true to our principles and a new way that does not deny our roots, yet tackles issues from a fresh angle. A coalition strategy we believe will best advance our struggle towards progressive change and equality in our lifetime. Too many organisations have been compromised by dependency on grants. We want to be able to be a predominantly self-financing movement for economic justice and we need your help. All those who subscribe will receive regular information and benefits.

The struggle for race equality in the post-war period has largely been characterised by a focus on
tackling the worst effects of racism and discrimination in the fields of education, criminal justice and employment, on top of the persistent view that 'immigrants' are somehow problematic.

Large-scale unemployment, as well as lack of opportunity to access private sector investment funds and regeneration schemes plagues our communities. We face higher insurance and mortgage costs for homes and property, inflated prices for basic commodities in deprived communities, little support for financial literacy schemes, increased interest on debts and loans, and discriminatory mortgage lending practices. Whilst struggling to deal with the effects of this racism, we rarely examine the root causes. As both taxpayers and consumers, BAME communities in 2007/2008 make up important segments of local and national economies. Black and Asian consumers are estimated to earn up to £156 billion after tax....


Infrastructure: Why fund it?

Debbie Pippard, Head of London Region, Big Lottery Fund

One of the dilemmas faced by funders is how to divide our money between funding direct frontline
services and organisations that support them. When times are hard, such as in the current economic climate, it is tempting to put as much as possible towards direct services. After all, we can all see how much front-line voluntary and community organisations are needed: we know that there are increasing numbers of people waiting for financial advice, job support, legal representation and other services, as well as all those who need the ongoing support provided by voluntary and community organisations.

Funding direct services is of course vital. But continuing to fund infrastructure is also important
if we are to have a thriving voluntary and community sector (VCS). Infrastructure organisations are the glue that holds the VCS together. If we stopped funding infrastructure, things appear to go on as usual at first, but over time it's very likely that the vibrant, diverse and creative VCS in London and beyond would gradually run down, leaving us all worse off.

It's arguable that infrastructure is even more important for those sections of the community
who are traditionally disempowered than it is for the general population. The VCS has built a
reputation for being able to reach those sections of the community that find it more difficult to
access mainstream services. VCS organisations are in a position to identify needs and develop
solutions to emerging social problems. Many have championed the needs and rights of BAME
communities and much of the positive social changes that have occurred over the past few
decades have been through voluntary action.

Many VCS organisations grow and thrive without external help. But, others need the support of
infrastructure organisations. And all, even the largest, benefit from the advocating work that
VCS infrastructure provides, even if they do not....

Race on the Agenda (Spring 2008) Agenda 32: Special Edition

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ROTA: Celebrating 10 years


  1. The Essence of ROTA: How we do what we do...
    Kamila Zahno, ROTA
  2. A consideration of recent progress on race relations and equality in London
    Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London
  3. An Optimistic future for a Diverse City?
    Bharat Mehta, City Parochial Foundation
  4. Community Cohesion in London - a personal view
    Anjuna Patel, London Councils
  5. New wine in old wineskins: Criminal justice policy and the role of the third sector
    Theo Gavrielides, ROTA
  6. Race Equality and Government Office for London
    Lisa Greensill. Government Office for London
  7. Race Key for New Equalities Body
    Trevor Phillips, Equality and Human Rights Commission
  8. Racism just ain't what is used to be - a personal perspective
    Elizabeth Balgobin, London Voluntary Service Council
  9. Youth Empowerment
    Michaela Ryan, ROTA
  10. and finally... Counting the statistics
    Dinah Cox, ROTA


An Optimistic future for a Diverse City?

Bharat Mehta, City Parochial Foundation

I would like to start by thanking ROTA for inviting me to write this article for its 10th Anniversary publication. ROTA has made a significant impact on the policy front, in matters relating to race in particular, for which it is to be congratulated.

City Parochial Foundation, a grant-making trust established in 1891 to benefit the poor of London is one ROTA's many supporters and funders. This article is written as a personal contribution so the views expressed are my own, and whilst I am grateful to my CPF colleagues and for their comments and advice, this article should not be attributed to CPF. Having said as much, I am, of course, influenced to a significant extent by the applications CPF receives from voluntary and charitable organisations. I am similarly influenced by my own experiences: I am a migrant to Britain, an Asian born in Africa who moved to Britain as a teenager.

May 1997 saw the election of a new Labour Government. This was followed by an unprecedented period for a labour government to be in office. Tony Blair remained in post for most of that period with Gordon Brown as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair as Prime Minister in 2007. 1997 and the period thereafter ushered in, amongst other reforms...


Youth Empowerment

Michaela Ryan, ROTA Volunteer

As an 18 year old female and member of Building Bridges Project Team, set up by ROTA to look at London’s gun, gang and knife culture, I have experienced first hand the impact and benefits of being involved and given ownership of research. Prior to this experience I always believed that young people should be given a voice, and that their opinions really mattered, but I couldn’t put my finger on why - or how these opinions should be gathered. Being involved in a youth led and youth owned project has given me those answers.

Gun, gang and knife 'culture' affects everybody. The impact is not exclusive to any age group and requires a concern and response from society en masse. However, when it is talked about in the media, and often politically, it is us as young people who feel the strain, the responsibility and the consequences greatest. Furthermore, the fear that this creates is felt by us directly on a daily basis - as we travel to and from school, go out at night etc. We do make up the statistics of those killed, the victims are getting younger. We are more likely to be stop and searched by the police and over-policed in other ways as a result of all of the above. To quote we often feel 'over-policed and under-protected'.

Whether this feeling reflects the reality or not is not what is important. The fact that we do fear, the fact that death and fear of attack is a general part of our lives is what is important. As the ‘children’ of our society we seem to straddle between having limited rights and powers – from the obvious examples of not having the vote, to being described as items of clothing - ‘hoodie’ to more recent developments of being dispersed from shop corners using...

Race on the Agenda (Winter 2007) Agenda 31

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Working future: pilot initiative

BAME engagement in local policy


  1. Editorial
    Dinah Cox, ROTA
  2. Community Cohesion and Intergration: a responsibility for all of us
    Sohagini Shah, ROTA
  3. Forging Relationships Between Mainstream Homeless Organisations and BAME Groups
    Dr Theo Gavrielides, ROTA
  4. Working Future Pilot Initiative-increasing Employment level of Homeless households
    Adeola Osunbade, Working Future Team Manager, East Thames
  5. Effective Community Leadership
    Lorraine Dongo, Community Involvement Co-ordinator, London Civic Forum
  6. A week in the life of a health policy officer
    Cheikh Traore, Greater London Authority Health Team
  7. Travellers, Empowerment and Participation
    Andrew Ryder & Yvonne MacNamara, Irish Travellers Movement
  8. Policy work at London Voluntary Service Council
    Alison Blackwood, Senior Policy Adviser, London Voluntary Service Council
  9. The Phoenix Factor - partnership with the BAME Voluntary Sector in London and its future in the Equalities and Human Rights Commission
    Georgina English, Commission for Racial Equality
  10. Coordinating the Equality Agenda
    Moira Dustin, Equality and Diversity Forum
  11. BAME Engagement in Local Policy - Routes to Engagement
    Bolaji Bank-Anthony, Director, BNRRN
  12. The Work of the Third Sector Team in Government Office for London
    Lisa Greensill, Head of Third Sector Team, Government Office for London


Effective Community Leadership

Lorraine Dongo, Community Involvement Co-ordinator, London Civic Forum

Why do we continue to explore community leadership and representation? Simply put, it is because this is an area that continues to pose practice challenges to meaningful community involvement. London Civic Forum (LCF) is one organisation among many that continues to have a tremendous opportunity to assist in answering this question as we have a specific programme that we are running linked to this issue. LCF seeks to enable a wider range of Londoners to participate in London's democracy, building a community of people committed to inclusive engagement and supporting our members in influencing policy issues of different concerns.

Defining community leadership and representation

Strong, yet different views are held within communities about the meaning of community leadership and representation and there is contention even in deciding whether these are the preferred terms to use or not. Whatever terminology we choose to use the bottom line is the roles that come along with these labels are necessary to have any influence and we need to engage with them. Where these labels derive their legitimacy from is another issue which is not the focus here however it is important to begin to understand some of the main routes into community leadership and representation. The following six routes (which I am sure we can at least identify with one of) were identified through Community Development Foundation's Practice Links project report (2007) self-selection; activism; professional experience; hand-picked by outside agencies; externally accredited, and media-made.

Looking into the practice challenges

Effective community leadership and representation help create a shared vision of what needs to happen, why it should happen and who should...


Coordinating the Equality Agenda

Moira Dustin, Equality and Diversity Forum

Established in 2002, the Equality and Diversity Forum is a network of national organisations working together to promote equality and human rights.

Five years ago, when the Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF) started, there were already many organisations working to promote equality and human rights, and prevent discrimination in Britain. These included the statutory commissions on disability, gender and race; non-statutory organisations such as Stonewall and Fawcett championing gay and women's rights; human rights organisations like Liberty and JUSTICE; advice agencies and legal service providers; and policy-focussed organisations including those working at a regional level like Race On The Agenda (ROTA). Perhaps most important were the many small voluntary and community organisations around the country providing services on the ground to improve individuals' daily lives. Such organisations have developed enormous experience and expertise in specific fields of discrimination, often over many years. There will always be a need for bodies campaigning on single issues and providing dedicated services. What was missing was recognition of the linkages between different forms of inequality and human rights, and a space for organisations to work together in common cause, when useful. This has been the space filled by EDF.

The catalyst for change came from Europe. In 2000, the Employment and Race Directives required European Union member states to make discrimination unlawful in the areas of race, disability, religion and belief, sexual orientation and age, thus...

Race on the Agenda (Winter 2007) Agenda 30

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Child poverty among London's BAME communities

Knife and gun crime in London


  1. Editorial
    Dinah Cox Chief Executive, ROTA
  2. Knife and Gun Crime in London
    Joshua Kerry, BBP Project Worker, ROTA
  3. Child Poverty Among London's BAME Communities
    Hilary McCollum, London Councils
  4. Capacitybuilders
    Jill Walsh, London Regional Co-ordinator, Capacitybuilders
  5. A Path to employment for BAME communities
    Bal McVeigh, PATH National
  6. Merton's BAME Strategic Plan 2006-09
    Patricia Anderson, Merton Unity Network
  7. Slavery: 2007 and beyond
    Ruth Fisher, Cultural Co-ordinator, MLA London
  8. Including the Excluded for 'Social Inclusion'
    Carlene Firmin, BBP Project Leader


Child poverty among London's BAME communities

Hilary McCollum, London Councils

In 1999 the Government made a commitment to halve child poverty levels in Britain by 2010 and to eradicate it entirely by 2020. Nowhere is this target more challenging than in London. Despite being the most prosperous region in Europe, London also has shockingly high levels of child poverty (defined as living in a household which has a disposable income below 60% of the median income). After housing costs are taken into account, London has the highest rate of child poverty in Great Britain, with 39% of London children living in poverty, compared with 28% nationally (DWP,March 2006).

While poverty has fallen nationally, in London there has been little improvement in child poverty levels since 2000.Yet 620,000 jobs have been created in the capital in the last 10 years ...


Knife and Gun Crime in London

Joshua Kerry, BBP Project Worker ROTA

What role can human rights play in the prevention of gun and knife crime amongst young people?

The 'knife and gun culture' that is rooted in the capital is the result of complex sociological, economical, and psychological factors mostly associated with an increasing lack of respect for other people's rights and indeed lives. Awareness, education, information and advice are the key areas that need to be looked at along with a more trustworthy, effective criminal justice system. The adoption of a human rights agenda within youth work and the education system can help encourage young people to take responsibility for...

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