Sewell Report – reflections, reactions and responses

We’re sharing reflections on the findings from the Commission on Race and Ethnic disparities, statements from the funding sector and highlighting further resources.

The Sewell Report - What was said? 

Last week the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities released its findings - which were controversial to say the least. It concluded that the UK is not yet a "post-racial country" - but its success in removing race-based disparity in education and, to a lesser extent, the economy, "should be regarded as a model for other white-majority countries".

Covered widely in national media, the Commission's final report has been widely criticised by campaigners and anti-racist organisations such as Black Lives Matter UK, the Race Equality Foundation and the Runnymede Trust.

Responding to the publication, our equity partner Yvonne Field (Ubele) released a statement saying: "The Commission had a unique opportunity to act as trailblazers for the future of race relations in this country. Unfortunately, this was completely missed. The summary report feels like a real slap in the face for not only our ancestors who have fought tirelessly for racial justice in the UK but also to our younger leaders who continue to demonstrate that they will not tolerate racial and social injustice in British society."

Funding racial justice

Looking specifically at our sector, we know that funding has often been less than fair and that organisations led by Black, Asian and minority ethnic people have not had investment and support to grow due to previous funding approaches. To this end we have been acting on the statement we released last year which pledged to put equity and inclusion at the heart of the London Community Response, and we'll have more to announce soon. 

Several of our members have spoken out against the report, and have re-committed to being anti-racist organisations. Here’s a few of their responses:

  • Lankelly Chase has said: “We stand in solidarity with our partners in rejecting the way this report frames and interprets the evidence. We reaffirm our view that institutional racism has to be named and tackled if we are to progress as a society.”
  • Mind stated that it has fallen short in the conversation about race equality, and that it ignores institutional racism in the UK’s mental health services.
  • The Paul Hamlyn Foundation have used the statement from the Funders for Race Equality Alliance as the basis of their response, and said: “We stand ready to do whatever we can, in our grant-making, our own behaviours and in solidarity to ensure that a divisive narrative that dismisses the reality of racism cannot take hold in this country, and we will continue to work with partners and stakeholders to achieve this.”
  • The Peter Minet Trust has rejected the findings of the report, and has said in their statement: "Structural racism exists, and we reaffirm our commitment to addressing it in all its forms."
  • Trust for London's response focuses on how the report was framed, and especially the attempt to discredit lived experience. Click here to read their blog 'The Sewell Report was wrong about lived experience – here’s why'. 
  • Turn2Us have said: “There are deep rooted inequalities in our own society. At Turn2Us we have seen this with our own data… This is not a coincidence: this is clearly a long term, endemic structural and institutional problem”. Click here for a blog from Varun Kanish, Turn2Us’ Campaigns and Communications Manager outlining his response.

We know that there is more to do, and we will continue to work with others to make funding in London fairer for Black, Asian and minority ethnic-led organisations. We also know that covid-19 has had a worse impact on those already marginalised, we have been collating resources to help funders understand how best they can support the communities they serve. If there is anything we have missed, or best practice that you think we should amplify, do get in touch with Geraldine.

Further reading

We also encourage our members to follow the work of: