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Metro Mayor Sets Out Declaration of Intent on Race Equality

METRO Mayor Steve Rotheram today set out a Declaration of Intent on Race Equality, detailing how the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will tackle institutional and systemic racism. The Combined Authority will be asked to adopt the Declaration of Intent at its next meeting, on 19 March 2021. The Declaration of Intent sets out how the Combined Authority will encourage and support organisations to prioritise race equality, while tackling under-representation within its own workforce. Developed in collaboration with partner organisations, including all the constituent Local Authorities, the declaration will demonstrate the Combined Authority's 'undimmed ambition' to address inequalities faced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in the City Region. Tackling racial injustice has been given a new level of urgency following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the disproportionate impact of the Pandemic on Black Asian And Minority Ethnic communities, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Under the wide ranging declaration, the Combined Authority will conduct rigorous diversity monitoring of all its policies, projects and programmes while seeking to use its 'soft powers' to influence other organisations to prioritise race equality. It will also seek increased engagement with Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic communities to co-create ways of improving accessibility to employment, skills and business support.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:- "The events of the last year have shone a light on institutional racism which still exists in our society. It is essential that we lead from the front on tackling it and set an example for others to follow. We are launching this declaration, which sets challenging targets for ensuring that our workforce reflects the communities we serve currently and to ensure that our funding programmes are more accessible in order to deliver more inclusive positive impacts for our communities. We are working with representatives of Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic communities and institutions to develop our approach and we will continue to do so to ensure we get it right. This is just the start of our journey, but I'm committed to doing all we can to tackle racism, discrimination and inequality and better reflect the diversity of our Region."

A report to the Combined Authority's March 19 meeting says:- "Not all of the programmes and interventions we deliver are equally accessible to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents. The 1st round of the Future Innovation Fund is just one example of this, which received only 3 applications from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic led businesses."

By 2025, the Combined Authority would aim to help an additional 2,500 Black Asian And Minority Ethnic businesses and to support an extra 5,000 Black Asian And Minority Ethnic residents through employment and skills programmes. The Combined Authority will also more than double its own Black Asian And Minority Ethnic workforce by 2025. The Authority employs more than 950 staff, but less than 3% are from Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic groups and there is no representation, at Director level. Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic staff make up 3.4% of the Combined Authority's senior management while comprising 6% of the Liverpool City Region's population. Under the declaration, a minimum of 6% of the Authority's workforce, which includes Merseytravel staff, would be from a Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic background by 2025. At least 6% of senior positions would also be held by Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic employees by 2025 and the Authority would be required to increase representation each year.

The report continues:- "Racism is a structural problem which exists in nearly all major institutions and organisations. Liverpool City Region Combined Authority recognises institutional and systemic racism as a legitimate issue, one that has no quick fix, but can no longer go unaddressed. The City Region's population is increasingly diverse and multicultural, yet institutional racism is affecting the outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents. Among other indicators, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents in the City Region face higher employment gaps, are more likely to be economically inactive, are paid less on average than white residents, are more likely to live in poverty, and less likely to own their own home. The Combined Authority accepts that it has an important role to play in tackling this injustice and inequality and driving forward positive change."

The report goes on:- "As a major employer, we must look internally at our own organisation, which is failing to be representative of the population it serves, especially at a senior level. As a funder, we have a responsibility to ensure our programmes are accessible to all of our residents, with a relentless focus on narrowing gaps, and finally as a key institution in the City Region, we must use our convening and soft powers to set best practice for other organisations and stakeholders to follow. Put simply, we must do the right thing for our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic employees and residents and influence the partners we work with to do the same. The Combined Authority is committed to emerge from the current crisis with a fairer, more socially just economy. Our recovery plan is underpinned by principles to Build Back Better, we must deliver on them."

The move comes 3 months after Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram announced the 1st tranche of ₤214,000 for racial equality projects. Reacting to the Declaration of Intent on Race Equality, Asif Hamid MBE, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said:- "I believe it is our responsibility to fully and comprehensively ensure that we are part of the solution for racial justice in our City Region and not part of the problem, and I welcome the Declaration of Intent on Race Equality set out by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram today. As a LEP we are working with our board members, our sector sub boards, the Combined Authority, our local businesses and business facing organisations to ensure we are getting to the heart of the challenges and barriers faced. We can then work together to develop meaningful actions and plans that we can all undertake to make sure businesses are doing everything they can to eradicate racial injustice within the workplace."

Aaron Fontenot, Founder at Culture Deck, Business Lead at Matchstick Creative, Member of the Liverpool City Council Race Equality Task Force, Tiber Enterprise Board Member, and Young People's BLM Forum Board Member, said:- "Race equality has always been a challenge in the Liverpool City Region, particularly around employment. As a black founder and an active member of the community, I would like to see the significant change in the ways young black people are supported in business and employment; and I believe the objectives and ambitions laid out in this declaration are a great 1st step."

Ngunan Adamu, Broadcaster and CEO of iWoman Academy CIC, said:- "Recent global events have seen the Liverpool City Region do what it does best and that's to stand to attention. With Liverpool City Region's history, race equality has to be at the forefront of every decision that it makes and we stand with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to make sure that the Race Equality Declaration of Intent is fit for purpose and serves the communities that have on occasion felt unheard."

Tracey Gore, Chair of Liverpool Race Equality Task Force, said:- "It is welcome that the Combined Authority have published their declaration of intent. The declaration enables the wider community to hold them to account not just over the next 5 years, but for their on going commitment to not only employ Black and Racial Minority people at all levels but to ensure retention and progression over the long term."

Chantelle Lunt, on behalf of Merseyside BLM Alliance and Merseyside Alliance for Racial Equality, said:- "Merseyside BLM Alliance and Merseyside Alliance for Racial Equality welcome the declaration of intent by Liverpool City Region, aiming not only to increase diversity within their own organisation, but encourage other organisations to do the same. We are pleased to hear that the LCR are keen to collaborate with, and support, black led organisations and community groups in the Region too. We hope that this work will be conducted openly, honestly and transparently. This is a positive step, as we need real change in our community. We look forward to working closely with the Liverpool City Region going forward."

Ben Osu, Strategy Lead, Anthony Walker Foundation, said:- "In 2020 the Anthony Walker Foundation experienced a 126% increase in service demand to support those who had experienced racism within the Region. The Foundation is committed to tackling racism in all of its forms and working to make the Liverpool City Region a safer place for all; regardless of skin colour; to live, work and thrive. The support and ambitions set out by the Metro Mayor and Combined Authority are welcomed and we are happy to help realise ambitions and create a Region where racial injustice is a thing of the past."

Schoolboy diagnosed with leukaemia 4 days before 12th birthday given cancer all clear

A courageous Southport schoolboy and his family are celebrating after he was told he is now cancer free! Lewis Wright, aged 12, was given the devastating news that he has leukaemia, in July 2020, just 4 days before his birthday. Over the past few months the Birkdale High School pupil has been battling through gruelling chemotherapy treatment at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool. Despite his ordeal, which would have tested any adult, his huge smile and sense of positivity inspired everyone around him. In September 2021, Boyzone star Rona Keating was so impressed by Lewis' bravery, and a video of him singing, that he phoned him to wish him well.

Lewis' overjoyed Mum Kayleigh Sherran said:- "Yesterday Lewis went into Hospital to have his central line removed. While he was sat in recovery we received a call from his consultant with his long awaited bone marrow results and I am so happy to tell you all our boy is now CANCER FREE! We are all so, so proud of him and overwhelmed with emotion, but he has done it, he smashed it and has done it all with a smile on his face. Lewis still has a long road ahead with four to six weekly appointments to have bloods tested but right now I can't put into words how happy and relieved we all are as a family and how grateful we are for the support everyone has shown. I will continue to keep everyone updated and as soon as I can hire a bell I will be live streaming him ringing it at home!"

After Lewis' diagnosis, his Aunt, Luise McHugh, launched a:- 'Love For Lewis' fundraising drive with appeals shared through Stand Up For Southport and across social media. Lewis has never been on a plane or abroad on holiday so Louise wanted to raise money for him to be able to go to Benidorm when he finishes his treatment. Louise said:- "He'd love nothing more than to swim with dolphins, go to the water parks and enjoy quality time away with his mum and big sister."

Southport people responded with huge kindness, raising nearly ₤5,000 for the appeal. The family's nightmare began last August, when Lewis was sent home from Hospital with a suspected virus; only to return after his condition worsened to discover he had leukaemia. Mum Kayleigh said that Lewis lost a stone in weight and was given:- 'more needles than she has had in her lifetime' since his shock diagnosis. Kayleigh, who works as a carer, said:- "The courage he has is unreal and I can't begin to explain how proud I am of my boy."

In September 2019, Lewis started his 1st year in Secondary School, at Birkdale High School, in Southport and settled in straight away, making lots of new friends and thriving in a new environment. Lewis loves spending time with friends and family and missed seeing everyone when Lockdown was enforced due to Covid19. As restrictions lifted and the Schools reopened, Lewis was so excited to get back to School that he was up, dressed in his uniform and raring to go before 7.30am. He was only back at School, 2 days before he started feeling unwell, on Friday, 10 July 2020, suffering from chest and back pain.

2 days later Lewis was admitted into Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool and diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. He already had numerous blood transfusions and started an intensive course of chemotherapy to prevent this cancer spreading to his brain. It has turned life upside down for Kayleigh, along with Lewis' Dad, Richard; big sister, Caitlin; and brother, Malakye. Kayleigh said:- "He started having pains in his chest and back which then started in his knees too. I took him to Ormskirk District General Hospital where I was told he had a virus and he should be fine in three days, and we were sent home. The following day his pains got worse and started to spread into other joints. It got to the afternoon and he was really struggling so I took him back to Ormskirk Hospital again where they examined him, took x-rays and blood tests and gave him strong pain relief. We waited for three hours for blood results and at about 11.30pm we got the devastating news that they suspected it was leukaemia and there was an ambulance on its way to take us to Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool. A million thoughts went through my mind. Surely he couldn't have leukaemia? He was absolutely fine until Friday. Surely it can't come on that fast."

Kayleigh was full of praise for the care the family received from doctors and nursing staff, in Liverpool. She said:- "We arrived in the amazing Alder Hey who couldn't do any more for us. They were fantastic with Lewis and gave us so much support. They spent the next 24 hours doing tests and observations. Then the full diagnosis came that Lewis has Acute Myeloid Leukemia. I felt like my whole world fell apart. Straight away they operated and put in lines for his chemotherapy to start the next day and did a bone marrow biopsy. 2 days later he went for surgery again for a lumber puncture to give him a dose of chemotherapy into his spinal fluid. His treatment is strong and intense and we were told it would floor a fully grown man that was an athlete. They weren't wrong. Lewis has been so, so poorly from the side effects. He lost one stone in weight in a week and was prodded, poked and had more needles than I have in my whole life. During his 1st dose of chemotherapy Lewis made the decision to shave his head before he lost his hair to keep some control over the whole situation. Throughout it all he has remained strong, positive and has been absolutely amazing. The courage he has is unreal and I can't begin to explain how proud I am of my boy. It will be a long road to recovery and I am in no doubt it will have its ups and downs but I know this boy of mine can fight this every step of the way."

Lewis' Aunty, Louise McHugh, has set up a page called:- "Weʼre raising ₤5,000 for Love to Lewis' on the JustGiving website. People are also being invited to join the Facebook Group Lewis Wright raffle Aml Leukemia. Louise said:- "Everyone knows Lewis by his big smile, even in these hard times. Lewis has got this personality where you can be in the worst mood and he can just change that in seconds. He smiles and the whole room lights up. Other than being a little comedian, he is also sensitive, sweet and has a massive heart."


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