Bristol and Unite – a unique combination for hope

Today’s guest blog is from Brett Sparkes, Regional Officer at UNITE South West.

Brett Sparkes, Unite the Union

In the last six weeks or so we have seen the very best of our hope and desire for success. The England men’s football team  had us all believing “it was coming home”. But despite the best performance for over half a century, what has grabbed the narrative has been the ugly and frightening  racism and hate. I am no football pundit, and have the soccer skills of a haddock, but I can imagine the bravery required to step up to take a penalty when the whole nation is watching.

The disgusting abuse and threats directed at Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, and Marcus Rashford were not a surprise to me. Elements of the media and some politicians have  spread both covert and overt messages of hate for many decades, not only directed at people of colour but at many people with protected characteristics.

According to the Office of National Statistics, recorded hate crime in England & Wales has increased from 40,000 in 2012/13 to 105,000 in 2019/20, an increase of 162.5%. And that is only the recorded incidents!

Recent years have only made  hidden hate more visible and emboldened the hate-mongers, including on social media but also in public and at workplaces

So can we be optimistic that we can beat the scourge of hate, the plague of racism? I believe we can. Despite what we see around us we as a society are on a progressive curve. Take LGBTQ+, in just a generation attitudes towards the members of this community have changed significantly. Openly gay, lesbian and trans people are accepted by my children’s generation, a vast improvement to people’s attitudes compared to my South London Comprehensive in the early 1980s.

Yesterday we took another small but significant step towards our goal of eradicating hate from our society. Mayor Marvin Rees and Steve Turner (Assistant General Secretary of Unite the Union) signed the Unity over Division Charter.

With the Mayor signing our charter, Bristol City Council has committed to working with Unite to continue to build more inclusive and harmonious workplaces. Both the Council and Unite will appoint inclusion champions, to collaboratively monitor, facilitate, and promote workplace inclusion.

The Charter also commits the council to training staff around its Equality and Diversity policy, which will be annual reviewed, and to provide materials to promote equality in the workplace – as well as condemning examples of hate crime and discrimination, particularly in Bristol.

By agreeing to confront hate in all its forms, bringing people together and giving them the true story instead of the media’s spin we can make a better Bristol and a better world.

Working together, Bristol and Unite can make a real difference in combatting hate. Together we can rid hate from our workplaces, as well as our pubs and social clubs, our communities and from our terraces.

Let’s make hate a thing our children will only read about in their history books.