The death of George Floyd on 25 May has sparked global protests and outrage as people demand reform of systems that do not do enough to stop the racial injustices faced by people of colour and other minority groups. Our thoughts are with George Floyd’s grieving family during this time.

George Floyd’s death has highlighted the deep-rooted ongoing discrimination based on racial, cultural, religious prejudice that is continuing across the world; it is everyone’s responsibility to address this structural inequality, oppression and exploitation premised on racial difference and identity.

The YMCA is one of the largest Youth Movements in the world, and  we strongly believe in equal opportunities for all: ‘No matter the colour of your skin, your gender, sexual orientation, your country, ethnicity age or background; ALL should have the opportunities to thrive and live a resilient and peaceful life.’ We believe that every person has equal value. ‘Every person should have the opportunities to belong, contribute and thrive within our communities without fear or discrimination.’

The YMCA George Williams College community is incredibly diverse, and we have much to learn from one another. This has been reflected in the international character of our operations and our commitment to anti-colonial and laboratory ideas and practices.

There is a clear need for community organisation and the development of clear aims and strategies for change. Our face-to-face teaching has always had a commitment to the contribution of thinkers and activists of colour to our field of activity that have promoted, inspired and enacted emancipatory movements, promoting equality and justice.

This being the case we have been, are and will continue to be dedicated to addressing and confronting racism, prejudice and discrimination, in all forms, whenever and wherever it occurs. We will do so through actively listening to and learning from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Mixed-Race supervisors, line managers, administrative staff, management, students and academics within both the higher and further educational sector.

We believe that education is a powerful emancipatory tool and that the facilitation of open learning is a proven means to engender communities, local, regional, national and international movements for change that can provide the means to confront injustice and so combat and undermine discrimination.

Thus, as an institution we place the highest importance on continuing to be open to learning and the need to be educated by those we work with and amongst. This is the basis of our on-going activity to build, maintain and further our anti-racist response as part of our obligation to human rights.

We understand that the recent events in the USA have been incredibly distressing, and some of you may wish to seek support during this time.

If you are a Coventry student, Coventry University has counsellors or mental health advisors, you can email: counsell.ss@coventry.ac.uk. You can also visit the Health and Wellbeing student portal page.

If you are a Canterbury Christ Church University student, they too offer student well being services, please contact: 01227 922675 or email studentwellbeing@canterbury.ac.uk.

If you are a member of staff, please contact: Mandy Hamerla (HR Consultant)

The YMCA England and Wales Statement can be viewed here: https://www.ymca.org.uk/latest-news/black-lives-matter

The World YMCA’s Statement can be viewed here: https://www.ymca.int/defending-our-values/