Creating places to live and work where everyone feels genuinely welcomed

Gareth Swarbrick

A message from Gareth Swarbrick, RBH Chief Executive

Following on from the footballing event of Sunday night it was very depressing to see and hear the racist abuse aimed at members of the England football team. Equally depressing to me was the fact that what happened in the aftermath of the match did not come as a surprise.

As someone who has regularly attended football matches since the early 1970s, I know that football is a microcosm of wider society. I know that whilst attitudes and behaviours in football and society in general have generally changed for the better, there is a long way to go. What has been heartening over the past few days has been the huge groundswell of people who have challenged racism, supported the players, and called out disingenuous comments by certain politicians. The outpouring of support at the Marcus Rashford mural in Withington has been fantastic to see.

This is all very relevant for RBH and for our communities. Just as the England football team have demonstrated that they are allies in the fight to eradicate racism and prejudice, so must we. As we constantly strive to be the best employer we can be and provide the best services that we can, we are making huge efforts to make diversity and inclusion the reality in RBH. We have made real progress on this. That's why we are an accredited Living Wage employer. It's why we are the first housing association in the UK to achieve the Disability Leader accreditation. It's why we are a member of the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter. It's why we have set an example as RBH and as housing providers in Greater Manchester by publishing our ethnicity pay gap. However, this journey is nowhere near over, and it is a journey we all need to go on.

We can – and we should – express our disgust at the appalling and blatant racist comments on social media, but it is much harder to challenge the casual, everyday comments, conversations, and behaviours that we see and hear on a regular basis. We must do this, just as we must question and challenge our own biases and assumptions. It is not enough to talk – we must act.

This is why we will continue to build on our efforts to create places to live and work in which everyone feels genuinely welcomed, and to make sure that we continue to reflect the diversity of Rochdale Borough and all our communities. Please do everything you can to support us on this journey.

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