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Food Standards Agency celebrates Black History Month 2021

Category: black history month, Diversity & Inclusion, National Inclusion Week, celebrating culture, Celebrating achievements, Black communities, Food Standards Agency, Weekly events, BAME staff, Raise awareness of inclusion, History and Politics week, Mental Health within Black communities, Race Equality Network & Mental Health and Wellbeing Network

Diversity and inclusion

food Standards Agency

As Black History Month (BHM) 2021 draws to a close, Freddie Lachhman, Transaction Officer at the Food Standards Agency and part of the planning team for BHM, reflects on this year’s events.

 

This year for Black History Month (BHM), FSA colleagues were invited to come together to celebrate achievements in the areas of science and technology, history and politics, literature, and culture.

I was part of the BHM planning team this year. We worked endlessly and long hours, to plan the weekly events; ‘lunch and learns’, quizzes, panel discussions, debates, articles, blogs, guest speaker events and of course ‘The Great BHM2021 Cooking Challenge'.

The activities for this year’s celebrations were further broken down into four themes:

Proud to be

Where we celebrated the culture and histories of black communities.

Allies

This theme was strongly emphasised during National Inclusion Week, and we wanted to build on this during BHM. Going forward we are looking for race allies to actively promote and aspire to advance the culture of inclusion for BAME staff through intentional, positive, and conscious efforts.

Respect

Building on last year’s theme we want to continue to emphasise the point around respect. Receiving respect from others is important because it helps us to feel safe and to express ourselves. It means that you accept somebody for who they are, even when they're different from you or you don't agree with them. Respect in your relationships builds feelings of trust, safety, and wellbeing.

Connecting

We wanted to continue to encourage individuals to share stories to celebrate, inspire, educate, and raise awareness of inclusion in the FSA. National Inclusion Week and other such initiatives such as BHM enabled us to connect with one another. Connecting with just one person starts an inclusion chain and conversation that leads to others getting involved.

Food Standards Agency

My favourite event this year

Our Chief Executive Emily Miles launched this year’s events and introduced our first guest speaker Joe Griffin, Scottish Government Director-General for Education and Justice. Wow, what a great speaker! Joe spoke about allyship and his black heroes, and colleagues were able to ask questions. I was really impressed with his honesty and knowledge of black history and culture. I learnt a lot from this session especially on the positive benefits of allyship. His musical knowledge is great too! What a cool guy.

During History and Politics week, FSA colleagues participated in our Loose Women-themed panel discussion where they explored the topic of ‘Don’t touch my hair’ with guest panellist Dr George Watley from the Department for Education. This event was informative and educational, it was great to see all the ‘throwback’ hairstyles and the references to some of my favourite films like Coming to America and the movie's presentation of the Jheri curl.

Other notable events during the month were:

  • Yvonne Rogan, Chair of Cabinet Office Race Equality Network, who talked to us about her journey through Black British History.
  • Professor Martin Levermore and Professor Robin May, our Chief Scientific Adviser, on getting BAME young people into STEM. I had no idea Professor Levermore had such an interesting career journey.
  • Literature Week, where we posted daily poems, written by the winner of last year’s poetry competition Mandy Jumnoodoo. Also for the week, colleagues were challenged to review a book from the FSA’s Race and Ethnicity Network reading list. The reviews from staff and EMT have been a great read.
  • The Great BHM Cooking Challenge, fashioned along the lines of the ‘Ice Bucket’ and ‘Don’t Rush’ challenges. Our colleagues did a great job in recreating the Nigerian recipe of jollof rice. They even posted a video showing staff how to make the dish!
  • There was also a Lunch and Learn on Mental Health within Black communities by the Race Equality Network & Mental Health and Wellbeing Network. This lunch and learn explored the stigma attached to mental health and how black communities can work together to facilitate conversations to break down this negative stigma.

Our closing event this year will be a talk by our guest speaker Bernadette Thompson OBE, Deputy Director at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Thanks from the #BHM2021 #FSABHM21 #OURBHM Team to all those that participated, making the event a very successful one. We will see you next year!

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