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Mike Summers: Black Lives Matter

Palace for Life Foundation Chief Executive Mike Summers gives his thoughts on the Black Lives Matters movement.

Like people right across the UK, I have been deeply troubled by the events unfolding in America following the murder of George Floyd. The global Black Lives Matter response has brought into sharp focus the inequalities that exist in every corner of our society. Palace for Life Foundation is based in one of London’s most diverse communities and we have a responsibility to strive for a better future for the young people we support.

More than 50% of the 14,000 young people we work with every year are from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds and it is distressing to think that they could be held back because of the colour of their skin. It is a priority for us to do more to address that and to fight inequality when and where we see it.

We are proud to have a very diverse workforce and know that in particular many of our black staff have been profoundly affected by the ongoing events. Our staff are the beating heart of our organisation, who dedicate their working lives to inspiring vulnerable young people in south London. Their wellbeing is paramount to us and we are continuing to explore ways that we can offer them support, as well as committing to improve things in the future.

I was pleased to see the Palace manager Roy Hodgson come out with strong supportive comments in the national media, and players such as Wilfried Zaha, Mamadou Sakho and Patrick van Aanholt taking a strong stance on social media. The players, in particular Wilf, who grew up in Croydon, are excellent role models to our young people and it is heartening to see their actions.

We don’t have all the answers and we are still learning, but if any positives can come from this, it’s a renewed commitment to tackle racism, to stand up and speak out when we see and to remember that our young people deserve better.

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