Unite has helped to launch the third edition of Show Racism the Red Card’s (SRtRC) ‘Wear Red’ day (WRD) – by hosting an event in a packed room at their HQ in Holborn (September 4).
This year, former Liverpool FC and England winger, John Barnes, attended the WRD17 London launch along with Arsenal FC legend, Perry Groves, former Middlesbrough FC player and current Queens Park Rangers FC assistant manager, Curtis Fleming.
Unite member and new MP for North West Durham, Laura Pidcock, also spoke at the launch along with Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey and SRtRC’s Ged Grebby.
This year the third annual Wear Red Day takes place in England and Wales on October 20, and in Scotland on October 6.
For one day only, here is the chance for workers and children across offices and schools countrywide, to don red clothing – all in the name of celebrating diversity. There are a number of increasingly creative methods in which funds can be raised, such as bake sales and sponsored penalty shootouts.
Ged Grebby, chief executive of Show Racism the Red Card said, “WRD is a chance for people across the country to help raise much-needed funds for anti-racism education work. Friday 20th October 2017 is all about uniting against racism for one day by wearing something Red and donating £1.
“Racism continues to be an issue in our society with many people suffering abuse each day. We believe that education is key in challenging racism in society. By working with the next generation in schools we can have a big impact towards eradicating racism and creating a better world in the future.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said, “I’m deeply proud my union is so involved with Show Racism the Red Card.
“Although other charities do great work within football, SRtRC tackles the wider society, that is what they do – taking the message of anti-racism right into the community. The history of the organisation is wonderful – it has grown tremendously from its roots in the North East.
“Young children are beginning to challenge their parents on racism. Racism is one of the greatest evils – if not the greatest evil – in our society and we have to fight it.”
A more tolerant society
SRtRC is an educational charity with a particular emphasis on young people. SRtRC conducts invaluable work in schools, promoting diversity throughout the UK. They deliver anti-racism workshops to scores of young people every year. The organisation provides training for teachers and parents all in the hope of increasing understanding of people from all walks of life – all in the hope of developing a more tolerant society.
Their work that extends across all age groups and backgrounds – these efforts are crucial in challenging racist attitudes in society and breaking down barriers within communities. One of the best examples of this is WRD.
For Grebby, the success of WRD can be simply measured. For him, it is more important for people to engage in the messages that the charity is sending out into the community rather than the charities’ financial gain from donations.
“The aim of the day is ultimately raising the profile of anti-racism – it’s about raising funds for our charity this year, we are aiming for 40,000 people it’s not about the money it’s all about people taking part and raising the profile if we get 35,000 people participating, I’ll still be very happy with that,” he said.
He continued, “In our first year we had 8,000 people take part and last year 30,000 people took part. Interest has grown tremendously throughout the two years.”
Former Republic of Ireland defender Curtis Fleming has underlined why he thinks the work SRtRD does is so important. “What separates SRtRC from other charities is that it extends beyond the 90 minutes on a Saturday we go into schools and educate,” he said.
He has also called on governing bodies within football such as the FA to become more representative of modern society.
Fleming continues, “Within the FA, for example, there are not enough black faces which I think is something I think they need to address.
“You’ve got to look at the audience. Look at who the Premier League consists of (only 31 per cent of players in the league are eligible for the England national team and 33 per cent of players who started the opening games of the season were from BME backgrounds). The FA board should reflect that but it doesn’t. How can the FA comment on something they haven’t experienced?”
Despite their fine work, it has not always been plain sailing for SRtRC. In previous years they have struggled to gain the support of governing bodies.
“I would say the government don’t do enough,” believes Grebby. “We are an educational charity, we’ve recently got the support of the home office and the department for communities and local government but really we need the support of the department of education. This message should be in every school – that’s our main target.”
Grebby explained, “We lobby the Labour Party through Unite. We pledge for them to support the campaign to have anti-racism education in every classroom.
‘Need government to listen’
“Let’s hope we get a government that will listen – one that understands you have to do something about it and not just pay lip service. The sky is the limit we know racism is a huge problem. You now have Islamophobia on the rise and hate crime is going through the roof there is a lot to be done,” he added.
Like football, it has had to evolve with the times to stay relevant. Now, instead of focusing purely on racism, their work also focusses on combating religious intolerance and anti-immigration.
Grebby is all too aware of the issues that threaten society moving forward.
“We are aware that the main types of hate crime, is on the up. After the recent bombing in Manchester because it was a concert, and affected young people from all over the UK the response to that has been very good.
“Unfortunately, the world situation with the rise of ISIS and anti-immigration rhetoric, hate crime here could send us back to where we were in the 1930s if something isn’t done about it”, he concluded.
For more on Wear Red Day see here