Black History Month and the NET


Black History Month and the NET

A month or so ago the NET team did what (if they’re honest) many organisations in many sectors probably did all over the UK. We remembered that October is Black History Month – and we started conversations about how to mark it.


Now that the focus for the Coronavirus Appeal has shifted to distribution, we’re busy once again laying down the foundations for the NET that had to go on the backburner somewhat when the Appeal’s needs took over. We’re building out a permanent team and of course building invaluable learnings from our first Appeal.


Ensuring fairness and inclusivity is embedded into every aspect of who NET is and how we behave is central to these plans. Our small core team is passionate about how we take this forward; many on personal, as well as professional level. Black History Month recognises something we all really care about – so surely shaping a plan for it should be easy? Not so. While well-intentioned, much of what we discussed felt a bit performative, not genuinely productive.


The answer was of course a simple one. The point of this month is to reflect and learn. And in doing so, to better build our ability to advocate for a fairer future. To be a voice and an active ally, including against the kind of structural racism that isn’t necessarily obvious at first glance.


So that is what we will be doing at the NET. We’ll be sharing thought-provoking content on our internal channels. We’ll be sparking team debates on slack. And the team and trustees will be getting important first-hand perspectives from charities and individuals making valuable contributions to our sector; while experiencing first-hand the challenges our sector must overcome.


And while we’re learning, we’ll be cracking on with our planning. We’ll be using our upcoming Strategy Day to discuss lessons learned about inequity from the impacts of Covid-19 and shape an approach that enables us to connect with, and support, all communities when a national emergency arises.


We’ll also be thinking about how we can create an even better charity: one that makes a positive sector contribution, and one that, though our upcoming Equity, Diversity and Inclusion action plan, ensures that the important issues the world is focused on this month are acknowledged – and accounted for – year-round in our as-yet-confirmed culture and practices.


We’ll see you on the other side.


Mhairi Sharp
COO and Interim CEO
National Emergencies Trust