Giving everyone a voice
In 2015 Islington Council promised to promote ‘All World History, All Year Round’ so that all pupils would see themselves in the history that they study. One year on, some fantastic work has been done with Islington Schools. Mona Bani, Director of Education and Culture of Every Voice, explains more.
What is Every Voice and what is your role?
Every Voice was founded in 2009 in Islington to engage thousands of residents and community organisations to influence race equality. We started as a forum of representatives from BME community organisations and leading community activists with a vision address systemic race inequalities in Islington. Since then, through collaborative networks, conferences and community research, we’ve raised the BME voice to shape more inclusive, local, social policy, that considers the needs and realities faced by all communities. We’ve evolved into a social enterprise and broadened our work to include education, employment, arts, heritage and culture. We also run Islington’s Voluntary Sector Race Equality Forum.
I oversee all our educational work with schools and youth organisations in Islington – and London wide – and I also arrange the cultural events we deliver for the Islington community, including film screenings, book launches, poetry readings and discussion groups.
How is it helping to bring positive change in our borough?
We work to achieve a world where every voice is fairly represented, heard and understood. We champion underrepresented groups, to share vital and diverse perspectives, challenge discrimination and stereotyping, eliminate systemic race inequalities and influence social change. We bring people together through activism and forums, education initiatives, social policy lobbying and cultural events.
What achievement have you been most proud of?
Every Voice has always fought to make our education system fair and inclusive for all students, regardless of background. Since 2010 we have been fighting to embed a fully inclusive, world history narrative into the school curriculum and the cultural events programme for the Islington community.
In 2015, after years of research and campaigning on the detrimental effects of a Euro-centric curriculum on the psychology, self-esteem and attainment of BAME young people, we succeeded in influencing Islington Council to pass a motion – as the only London borough to do so – stating their commitment to a year-round inclusive curriculum, instead of just Black History Month celebrations.
Since then, Every Voice has been leading the All World History, All Year Round campaign, working closely with teachers to diversify the curriculum; deliver teacher training; provide schools with wider educational resources and deliver cultural and educational events to the community year round. This is a campaign we’re immensely proud of and excited to lead and would love your support, involvement and feedback. You can find out more by visiting our website.
What’s the best part of your job?
Seeing the excitement of the children and young people who attend our All World History workshops and events and finally experience a perspective of history that they can relate to and feel empowered by.
This month is Black History Month, how can people get involved?
As mentioned above, we’re trying to encourage communities, local authorities and the education system at large to move beyond the idea that ‘Black history’ – or any other non-European history – is an exotic add-on, which we dedicate a special month to and then return to our status quo for the rest of the year.
So this BHM we would love people to get involved with our All World History, All Year Round campaign. They can do this by pressuring their local school to diversify its curriculum year round; choosing the new Migration modules offered by OCR; writing to their local MP calling for BHM to be integrated into year round local activities; and sharing/tweeting our campaign
Every Voice has also partnered with Chichester University’s Young Filmmaker Awards to deliver a new national competition for all 11-19 year-olds to make a 5 mins film, telling the story of African Caribbean communities in Britain in new ways. Entries can be made until Dec 2016. So this BHM, encourage your child or school to take part in the competition.
What’s your favourite thing about Islington?
Islington has an incredibly diverse community and very vibrant voluntary sector, with so many groups working hard, on very limited resources, to deliver local social services, support one another and make Islington a safer, more enjoyable and fairer place to live. The model for community collaboration is strong and Every Voice has always been grateful to be part of it.