A new, local equality organisation was launched this week at a public meeting in Deptford.
The project, Equaliteam Lewisham, has been in development since January 2011, when Herman Ouseley delivered a specially commissioned report to the council on how it could best meet its public sector equality duty.
“There is so much talent in this borough and so much experience. I look forward to Equaliteam setting an example to the rest of this country,” the prominent campaigner and parliamentarian told attendees at the launch.
Originally from Guyana, Ouseley spoke of his own experience of racial discrimination when he first came to Britain as a boy. He stressed, however, that racism is just one of many forms of bias. “There is no hierarchy of inequalities, in my view. All must be challenged.”
Funding for the new initiative will come in the form of a council grant worth £160,410 per financial year, guaranteed until April 2014.The decision to continue funding the project will be made by council cabinet in February of next year and the organisation itself will look into alternative income sources.
Speaking to EastLondonLines in the build-up to the event, Lewisham council’s Sam Dias said that Equaliteam will operate as a consortium of organisations, statutory and non-statutory, identifying and collaborating on equality-related projects in the borough.
In addition to addresses by Ouseley and Mayor Steve Bullock, the launch agenda also included a vote for project committee members. Carol Mew, director of Lewisham Disability Coalition, was elected chairperson.
“I passionately believe in equality as a disabled woman,” she said afterwards. “I will do my utmost to make sure that this organisation succeeds. I believe it has great potential to bring together the huge diversity there is in Lewisham.”