After seven years as head of ROTA Andy Gregg has announced that he will be retiring at the end of August. Ali Ahmed, ROTA’s Chair during this period said “Regrettably I am sorry to announce Andy’s departure from ROTA. Andy continued to build our work on put race equality at the centre of the policy agenda, he helped expand our partnerships and collaboration with front line BAMER communities. Since taking office as a ROTA CEO in 2010, Andy developed the organisation and commitment to challenging all forms of racism. We will miss him and wish him all the best.”
ROTA’s Board of Trustees has begun the process of ensuring the continuing leadership of ROTA in the difficult climate we are all now in with COVID 19. More information will shortly be available on this process.
Andy’s period as Chief Executive of ROTA coincided with the Government’s hostile environment policies that have done so much to reinforce racism and discrimination throughout the UK over the past few years. The results of this disastrous policy can be clearly seen in the disparities and discrimination that is now daily being uncovered with the COVID 19 pandemic. BAME key staff and patients are significantly much more likely to suffer serious infections and die of the virus. All of this has happened in a climate of a serious economic downturn which is about to be made even worse by the likelihood of Britain crashing out of Europe later this year in addition to the recession caused by COVID lockdown. The Brexit debate has injected so much hatred and bile in to the system over the last few years with substantial spikes in racial hatred and harassment and anti migrant discrimination. The recession that is now looming will have a substantial negative impact on BAME communities and is likely to further exacerbate racism and xenophobia.
ROTA achievements in the period during which Andy was head of ROTA included a campaign to defend the 2010 Equalities Act and PSED that the Government was threatening to review. Since then we have trained over 500 groups and individuals on how to use the Equalities Act to challenge discrimination in public service provision. ROTA’s report on the Grenfell Tower tragedy (ROTA carried out research for the EHRC on the aftermath of the fire) and the Windrush scandal (ROTA’s Policy Officer shared with the Runnymede Trust was instrumental in organising key parliamentary events to call attention to the scandal) were also important achievements.
The vital issue of Black mental health was a constant consideration throughout the period and we worked closely with Dr Suman Fernando around a number of events looking at how race and racism impacts on mental health provision. ROTA’s Active Lives, Healthy Minds project funded by Reaching Communities worked with a number of refugee community organisations in West London to promote well being and train groups in mental health first aid.
of our patrons Lord Victor Adebowale was at the heart of the Talking Race seminars that ROTA held to bring together and seek the views of key Black and Asian activists. In 2017 ROTA held a parliamentary event to celebrate its twentieth birthday with a keynote speech from Victor on the state of race equality in the UK. We also organised a number of events with our other patron Dr Richard Stone looking at the legacy of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. We also held a number of events with our other patron Dr Richard Stone that were connected to his involvement in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry as an advisor to Lord McPherson.
ROTA is an active member of CORE (the Coalition for Race Equality) and was recently awarded a two year contract to provide secretariat services to build CORE as a leading anti-racist coalition in partnership with Voice for Change England. We have promoted numerous partnership projects in particular with Runnymede Trust, BTEG, Black Fundraisers-UK, Money4Youth and Voice for Change England and have sought to involve groups working with migrants, refuges and travellers in the work of the wider BAME sector and anti-racist sectors. We have also built partnerships with groups outside of London and across Europe as part of an EU funded campaign to challenge online race hate crime. More recent projects such as our Cornerstone project (which supports BAME organisations to improve their communications and promote their messages) and Avocado (which trains BAME organisations in fundraising and sustainability) show ROTA’s imaginative approach to develop new activities and services for BAME communities.