Wear Red Day set to be 'biggest one yet'

Unite urges everyone to ‘show racism the red card’ on Wear Red Day today

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Anti-racist education charity, Show Racism the Red Card, expects this year’s Wear Red Day on Friday (October 16) to be its biggest one yet.

Every year, Show Racism the Red Card puts on Wear Red Day, where people who take part are asked to wear red and share a photo on social media to raise awareness and funding for the charity’s work.

Unite has long been a big supporter of the charity, which has delivered anti-racist education to schools and workplaces for more than a decade.

Formed in 1996, the charity goes out into communities, classrooms and football clubs and educates roughly 50,000 schoolchildren each year in England, Wales and Scotland about racism, using football and other sport to inspire.

In previous years, schools, workplaces and other organisations would all take part in Wear Red Day together, but with pandemic restrictions, things will be slightly different – still, the show will go on.    

“This year, you can take part by wearing red at home, and get others in your household or social bubble to join in and post pictures on social media with the hashtag #WRD20. Last year, 77,000 people participated and we expect this year to be even bigger,” explained Show Racism the Red Card’s CEO Ged Grebby.

“Our theme this year is ‘keep up the momentum’ and our strapline is ‘You’ve taken the knee, now stand up with us against racism’,” he added. “Wear Red Day is a unique opportunity under the current restrictions of the pandemic to come together and stand together against racism. We don’t want the Black Lives Matter movement to become a moment. We want it to have long-lasting change.”

UniteLIVE caught up with Ged last month, ahead of the charity’s annual Wear Red Day launch, which typically takes place at Unite’s headquarters. This year, it was held as an online Zoom event, where dozens of football stars and renowned figures in other sport participated, alongside politicians and trade union leaders, with thousands tuning in.

Ged told UniteLIVE how the charity was forced to adjust to the restrictions imposed by lockdown earlier this year to continue delivering its vital anti-racist education. It adapted many of its materials to reach children online, through for example, Microsoft games.

Show Racism the Red Card has also since expanded further into adult education – at the beginning of lockdown, they produced a film for the NHS about challenging racism in the health service.

“We interviewed one nurse who told us that a patient said they didn’t want to be touched by her just because she wore a hijab,” Ged said. “These experiences are sadly very common.

“We also looked at why are Black people are overrepresented in key worker roles that are often the lowest paid and on insecure work contracts like zero hours, while at the same time there’s hardly any representation of Black people in more senior roles – this is how institutional racism operates.”

Show Racism the Red Card has in recent years struggled amid government funding cuts, but the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement sparked massive public interest in the charity’s work, virtually overnight.

“For months everything was secondary to the Covid-19 pandemic, and then everything changed with the murder of George Floyd,” Ged noted. “What struck me is the number of young people and people of all races getting involved in the movement.

“It’s been really inspirational – we’ve never had so many people approach us wanting to get involved. People from everywhere have started raising money for us – people selling Gucci handbags, people shaving their beards, people running laps in the park.”

Despite recent fundraising success, the huge increase in demand for Show Racism the Red Card’s work means that continued donations from the public are vital for the charity to push forward with its mission of educating people about racism in schools, workplaces and communities.

Speaking at the Wear Red Day online launch event last month, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey reiterated the union’s commitment to Show Racism the Red Card and its work.

He said there was “100 per cent support” for the charity from Unite, adding that “the more we can do, the more we can advance the work that is being done by this organisation”.

“Let’s embrace this charity and make certain that there is sufficient finance because finance in any organisation is absolutely critical,” McCluskey continued, as he urged everyone to participate in Wear Red Day.

“We need your support, we need your commitment and I’m sure that the impact that we are having and this organisation is having will make certain that we will have a better future for all our children and indeed for everyone in our nations.”

Unite’s regions and workplaces will as ever be participating in Wear Red Day and the union encourages others to do the same.

Find out more about how you can take part in Wear Red Day on Friday (October 16) here. And If you missed last month’s Wear Red Day launch event online, you can still catch up and re-watch it here.

Unite will also be hosting a special t-shirt competition on Wear Red Day. Find out more below:

By Hajera Blagg

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