Written evidence submitted by the Coalition for the UN International
Decade for People of African Descent (MRS0501)

About the organisation

We are a Coalition of African people and African-led organisations who have come together to mark and raise awareness of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) 2015- 2024, under the theme Recognition, Justice and Development. Our Mission Statement appears on page 6.

 

Coalition’s  Submission to The Inquiry:

The Coalition is pleased to note that the Committee has been concerned to hear that people with protected characteristics are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and the Government’s response, including the emergency Coronavirus Bill. We are particularly pleased that at this time when our Community is under stress, a Committee is willing to listen to the concerns we have and our view that Government has not properly considered all relevant equality impacts. It has been a great concern to see images of frontline workers paying the ultimate price and noting that many are AAME (African Asian Minority Ethnic) Figures from the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre 4th April 2020 supports the anecdotal evidence from our Community; although AAME people make up 14% of the population, we make up 35% of Covid-19 deaths. We do not have details of the casualties suffered by People of African Descent but expect that these will be high as we make up a large proportion of cleaners, doctors, nurses, bus drivers and other essential workers. We hope that our contribution will inform your report which we are sure will influence Government in addressing adverse impact on our Community.  Please find our submission below:

 

1.                   How people have been affected by the illness or the response to it

a.                   High death toll in the Community and stress from difficulties in burying loved ones.

b.                  Afrikan Community faces challenges in terms of low income and hand to mouth living. Many are in jobs which cannot be done from home but is not highly paid. Many are used to juggling several jobs in order to make ends meet and Lockdown make this a particular challenge. The joke in the Community is that although they might want to panic buy and stock up, their bank balance only allows them to panic!

c.                   We have been involved in Advocacy for community members facing discrimination at work. Those working for agencies are often given shifts in what the workforce considers dangerous wards because not only it dedicated to Covid-19 patients but staff are not issued with Personal Protective Equipment which would make them feel safe.

d.                  Essential workers, still at work in Care Homes and in the NHS are concerned that little attention is paid to the issue them spreading infection from work to Family Members with high risk underlying conditions

e.                   The Community is concerned that patients without Covid-19 are put in Covid-19 wards which leads to them acquiring the infection, with fatal consequences

 


f.                    GP surgeries are not offering appointment which is understandable because of  Social Distancing requirement but to expect patients to buy a Blood Pressure machine so they can send readings to their GP is insensitive as it assumes that patients have the disposable income to purchase the instrument. For the reasons given under b. above, many in the African Community have no savings or disposable income to make such a purchase

g.                  We are concerned that Africans with care responsibilities, delivering food to Family Members or Vulnerable People in the Community can be stopped by Police who refuse to accept reasonable explanations. The Afriphobia, Structural and Institutional Racism is not diminished by the reality that Africans are on the frontline. Perhaps the refusal to acknowledge our contribution or dismiss it as AAME searching for a better economic life is part of the Racism exposed by the Covid-19 Pandemic

h.                  It is perhaps pertinent to point out that when NHS England or whichever agency of Government put out promotional material about the NHS, AAME faces were strangely absent. This led to several Social Media Campaigns, the most prominent being the #StoptheWhitewash led by Comedian Gina Yashere. Afriphobia is a pressing concern in the African Community still reeling from the Windrush and Commonwealth Scandal.

i.                    We are concerned that Africans feel pressured to go to work when they should be self-isolating and are subjected to Disciplinary Action when they refuse to work without PPEs.

j.                    The Community needs reassurance about routine Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders which they are told is in use at most hospitals. It is our information that it is sometimes necessary to sedate critical patients for several days; the fear in the Community is that they will not receive the level of care needed for their recovery

 

2.      If there have been specific impacts on people due to them having a protected characteristic

a.                   Afriphobia, Structural and Institutional Racism is being experienced more acutely

b.                  IT Poverty and Digital Exclusion is being felt particularly by Afrikan Communities. Many used the library to compensate for the lack of broadband and computers at home. With the Lockdown, this no longer an option. With the closure of schools and Learning being delivered online, Afrikan Families are facing extra stress especially where there is more than one child and only one computer in the household.

c.                   ‘No recourse to public funds’ leaves a number of people who have been working legally and paying NI contributions with no access to the safety net to which they have contributed

d.                  Africans working in the NHS not receiving care when they are ill. Either the ambulance refuses to take them in or the hospital discharges them with the instruction to self-isolate and take medication. In several of these instances, African patients have died

e.                   Mental Stress – many support networks are not available because of the Social Distancing Directive and limits for Social Gathering being 2. Many Africans feel the mental stress of being isolated because they cannot access Skype or Zoom to stay connected. There are challenges with IT equipment whether the specification of smartphones, laptops or broadband. African businesses especially start-ups and micro businesses have been excluded from the Chancellors support initiatives which seem to target large corporations and mainstream SMEs

 

3.      Whether there may be unforeseen consequences to measures brought in to ease the burden on frontline staff, for example relaxing the measures under the Mental Health Act and Care Act

(a)   We have not received reports in a form we can share yet about the Mental Health and Care Act, but expect to be in a position to report Community concerns shortly.

(b)   We have received credible reports of prisoners facing benign neglect locked up 23 hours a day, courses cancelled and needed cash strapped relatives to provide funds for phone calls. The risk to African prisoners who are overrepresented in mental health statistics cannot be overestimated

 

Reviewing the measures

(2)   What needs to change or improve, which could be acted on in three weeks’ time

(a)   Broadband access for households with a discount or free access for vulnerable families

(b)   Issue laptops for each school age child expected to learn online

(c)   Remove AAME workers from frontline positions unless they can be issued with enhanced PPEs. The death toll is a real concern and immediate action needs to be taken

(d)   Better provision for small and micro businesses which can be accessed without excessive red tape so entrepreneurs can move businesses to online platforms where possible

(e)   Set up an enquiry led by a judge to look into the disproportionate dath toll in the AAME Community

(f)    Provide BP machines for vulnerable patients so that thy are able to provide readings for their GPs to monitor their condition. The NHS is supposed to be free at point of use, the requirement to buy equipment places a burden on vulnerable people.

 

(3)   What needs to change or improve, which could be acted on in 6 months’ time -

(a)   Introduce Universal Basic Income in order to provide a useful safety net to marginalised people, predominantly AAME in the gig economy, often on Zero Hours Contracts

(b)   Address Digital Exclusion by providing the training needed so marginalised Communities can access WhatsApp, Zoom and Skype

(c)   Resources for grassroots work into unintended adverse consequences for AAME Comunities

 

IDPAD Coalition UK hopes this submission will help the Committee provide input into both the 3 month review and the 6 month review. We have a particular interest in Afriphobia, Structural and Institutional Racism as we published a report in December 2019, the result of several months of roundtables at various venues in the country.

 

Appendix I

 

Amended Mission Statement agreed by Board January2017

Reviewed: January  2020

Next Review Date: January 2021

 

Mission Statement- International Decade for People of African[i] Descent Coalition UK (IDPAD Coalition UK)

 

Who are we?

A Coalition of African people and African-led organisations who have come together to mark and raise awareness of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) 2015-2024, under the theme Recognition, Justice and Development.

 

The objectives of the UN Decade are to:

 

 

 

 

What is the aim of IDPAD Coalition UK?

1)      To ensure that 2015-2024 is meaningfully marked as the International Decade for people of African descent and that the UK, a member of the UN, lives up to its obligations under UN Resolution 69/16[ii], and begins to take tangible steps including legislation to address the myriad of socio-political inequalities faced across the UK by people of African heritage.

 

2)      To support African people and African-led organisations working to raise awareness of the Decade and mark it in meaningful ways around the theme Recognition, Justice and Development.

 

3)      To develop local, national, regional and international networks, campaigns and other activities for the full implementation of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent.

 

Who can be members?

African people and African led organisations. Non Africans or organisations that are not African-led can be supporters or associate members, but not full members

 

Role of Members and Supporters

 

The Board, which is made up of Members , shapes the direction of the Coalition.

 

Members are the decision-makers. The authority of the Board comes from Members as expressed in the Coalition Meeting. Supporters may make suggestions and offer support in various ways, but only Members through the Board decide on direction and strategy.

 

Resolution 69/16 suggests that Recognition could include actions to:

 

 

 

 

IDPAD Coalition UK has identified the following actions under Recognition (non exhaustive list)

Recognition:

 

 

Resolution 69/16 suggests that Justice could include actions to:

 

IDPAD Coalition UK has identified the following actions under Justice (non exhaustive list)

 

Justice

 

Resolution 69/16 suggests that Development could include actions to:

 

IDPAD Coalition UK has identified the following actions under Development (non exhaustive list)

 

Development

 

 

 

May 2020

 

 


[i] People of African descent refers to Africans from the continent of Africa and/or its Diaspora

[ii] Resolution 69/16 of 18th November 2014 is preceded by 11 resolutions 68/237 of 23rd December 2013, 64/169 of 18th December 2009, 66/144 of 19th December 2011, 52/111 of 12th December 1997, 56/266 of 27th March 2002, 57/195 of 18th December 2002, 58/160 of 22nd December 2003, 59/177 of 20th December 2004, 60/144 of 16th December 2005, 62/122 of 17th December 2007. 62/122 designated 25th March the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

[iii] Teaching on Abolition for example should focus on African freedom fighters and abolitionists, they should not be a footnote. Teaching should recognise that African History did not begin with enslavement. Encouraging organisers of publicly funded African History Month or Season programmes to ensure that talks or presentations are led by informed Africans, with events open to all to attend