Antonia Ogundayisi joined Essex County Council earlier this year in a newly created role – Service Manager, Anti Racist Practice. 6 months on from joining and further to our previous blog with her, Antonia explains how she has settled into her role and how ECC’s Anti-Racist Agenda is driving change.
How have your first 6 months at ECC been?
I have now hit the 6 month mark at ECC and I must say, time has flown. It has been a busy yet stimulating start, with ECC collectively noting areas of progress but also challenge and development. There has been a conclusion of introductory meetings and certainly a lot of momentum and drive across the County. Our service managers, team managers, social workers and the workforce at large, now have full clarity about ECC’s Anti-Racist Agenda. The work being conducted within children and families has attracted the attention of the wider workforce who are kept abreast of our progress. We are keeping anti-racist practice on the map as a rolling agenda but even beyond this, our workforce is taking ownership for anti-racist practice education and improvement. There are people are notably enthusiastic to drive change; whom are eager to learn and are now beginning to lead from the front.
We have undertaken a scoping activity to truly understand the key themes, strengths and areas for development. Our Board continue to provide oversight and scrutiny, whilst our working groups bring their skills and expertise to shape and deliver our work. So far, we have created reflective spaces, thinking tools, practice guidance and anti-racist workshops are ongoing. We know that we still have a long way to go, but there has certainly been movement.
We are committed to build an anti-racist culture.Antonia Ogundayisi
What projects are you working on now?
Now that scoping has concluded, we are working towards a strategic plan and thinking carefully about what we want to prioritise in our 4 work streams: workforce, policies and procedures, leadership and practice. At the heart of this will be how we can provide the best quality of service to our children and families. For example, we will designing a practice model, reviewing our learning and development offer and building a learning culture across our Services. So far, we have found that reflective spaces work really well; people are supported but also respectfully challenged.
What’s next for you?
Well, its Black History Month and we have exciting activities and events lined up throughout October. We are really conscious to not be limited to token gestures that Black History Month can evoke, but we are committed to build an anti-racist culture beyond October.
We have events going on across the quadrants which are staff-led, and they are using the opportunity to explore how they can strengthen their cultural competence. This is beyond the scope of hair and skin care, it’s about the way of life of our children and families, and how we can increase our curiosity to truly understand them as people.
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