Black Lives Matter Statement

We at Grief Matters Southwark recognise systemic and institutional racism exists today throughout society. We also recognise that it exists in the therapy world. We offer our staff training and resources to support their work in relation to inclusion and diversity.  These include hosting workshops and signposting literature in order to educate ourselves and our communities on the impact of racism on our clients and ourselves.  

Grief Matters Southwark is an inclusive organisation.  We continuously and carefully monitor our work to ensure that we are reaching and providing services for diverse groups.  We endeavour to have a richly diverse workforce, including the management team, trustees and counsellors. We will always be open to learning more about different groups, cultures and religions, educating ourselves on social issues, and encouraging awareness and an accepting attitude towards working with difference.

Institutional Racism and Black Lives Matter

Grief Matters Southwark (GMS) is very aware that systemic and institutional racism not only exists in America but also in the UK, parts of Europe and other colonising countries. We recognise that people are not always aware of the implications this has for our Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities today. GMS recognises that responses to the Black Lives Matters (BLM) campaigners such as “White Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter” over-simplifies the issue here and misses the point of the importance of learning about various histories in relation to slavery and colonisation.  BLM is about educating people about this subject matter, and it is important to know that BLM as an organisation does believe that all lives matter: what they ask is that black lives are included here.

What is anti-racism?

Discrimination in the UK is still widespread and we need to actively support our black communities by being anti-racist.  Anti-racism is not just about being non-judgmental about another’s race, but actively trying to educate ourselves and others on the issue of ripple effects of the past where the slave trade, colonisation and exploitation of others has affected black lives and still has an effect on our BAME communities today (systemic racism).

What BLM term being a pro-active anti-racist is not easily understood by all, and for many people, it is not their fault that they do not understand.  This is mainly due to the lack of information in the mainstream of society.  This isn’t a finger pointing exercise and is certainly not about tarring people with the term racist. It is about looking at what we can do to educate ourselves in understanding this issues better as an organisation.

What are we doing at Grief Matters Southwark?

We at Grief Matters Southwark will be offering resources and signposting on what literature to read, what resources are available to educate ourselves and our communities. 

We also want to raise the fact that in the past the world of psychotherapy did not always reach out to our BAME communities and even when slight inroads were made to welcome black clients into the counselling room, the framework for working with black clients did not change.  At Nafsiyat, which is an intercultural counselling service, much research has been carried out on working with intercultural and multi-cultural networks of people to look at best practice in inter-cultural counselling. 

The work of Lennox Thomas: the ‘Proxy Self’

Some of the most interesting work on racism and the therapy room was conducted by Lennox Thomas, who researched the idea of the ‘proxy-self’. He used the example of a middle-class white psychotherapist working with a young child from a working-class Afro-Caribbean background. He was interested in how the child adapted to the white psychotherapist, who was in a position of cultural dominance in this relationship. Lennox wrote that the child may not have been able to be her ‘true self’ in this working alliance, developing a proxy-self in order to adapt to the prevailing culture they lived in.  Here, Thomas is highlighting the impact of an imbalance in both cultural awareness and power dynamics in society, and the affect it has on relationships where the other is or may feel misunderstood and/or under-represented. 

See links at bottom of page for further information on Nafsiyat and Lennox Thomas’s life and work.

Our diversity

We are proud of our diversity. In a Community Southwark survey taken by Grief Matters Southwark, our organisation was asked if we were inclusive which was seen as over 51% of our Board of Trustees and Management Team being BAME, LGBT and female.  You may be pleased to know that Grief Matters Southwark is 100% inclusive.  We endeavour to keep a richly diverse workforce, including the management team, trustees and counsellors and will always be open to learning more about different groups, cultures and religions and educating ourselves on social issues and encouraging awareness and an accepting attitude towards working with difference.

Grief Matters Southwark abides by the Equalities and Human Rights Act 2010.  As an inclusive organisation we continuously and carefully monitor our work to ensure that we are reaching and providing services for diverse groups.  We offer our staff training and resources to support their work in relation to inclusion and diversity.  To do this we keep abreast of what organisations such as Nafsiyat and Black and Asian Therapist Network (BAATAN) are doing, as well as LGBT Stonewall, Disability UK and Age UK. 

We have specific lead roles on diversity such as Lead on BAME, Lead on LGBT, Lead on Disability both on our Board of Trustees and within the employed workforce. We endeavour to continue to employ a diverse workforce. 

Useful links:

https://www.nafsiyat.org.uk/index.php/about-us/our-history/

https://www.nafsiyat.org.uk/index.php/2020/04/22/remembering-lennox-thomas/

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