An update on our work to progress race equality

Professor Susan Fitzmaurice, Faculty Vice-President Arts and Humanities and Chair of the University’s Race Equality Steering Group, shares an update on our work to progress race equality at the University.

"Over the past week I have had a number of conversations with students and staff about University support for Black, Asian and Minority Ethinic (BAME) students and staff and I want to take this opportunity to reflect on what I have heard, how we have responded so far and what our longer-term plans are for progressing race equality at our university.

"Events in America and beyond have caused hurt, anger, grief and fear among many but particularly with our black students and staff, who have shared with us their concerns about how they can access specific support during this time, how they can feel safe and valued and how they can feel confident in the University’s approach to race equality. This is coupled with the anxieties associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, which we know has disproportionately affected BAME communities.

"It is clear that the University needs to do more to offer dedicated, proactive support for our BAME communities. This is not something that we can change overnight, but I am grateful to all those who have discussed this with us - especially the BME Students' Committee which provides vital student representation across our University. We know that these issues are not new, and that some of our students have been telling us about our gaps in support for some time. But we will make changes and we have begun working with our communities to make our provisions better.

"In the meantime, it is important that you, our students and staff, know  what support we do have available now, and how you can access it:

For students:

       
  • Our new wellbeing service offers 1-2-1 support to help students who are feeling down, overwhelmed or struggling with any aspect of life during these challenging times
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  • Our Counselling Service offers confidential emotional support for students who need dedicated help
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  • You can also visit Report + Support to report and access support about harassment and discrimination of any kind

For staff:

       
  • Each faculty has a lead in equality, diversity and inclusion, who you are welcome to contact
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  • You can email hrequality@sheffield.ac.uk with any specific concerns relating to equality
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  • You can also visit Report + Support to report and access support about harassment and discrimination of any kind
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  • Details of our staff helpline and other wellbeing resources can be found on the staff wellbeing web pages
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  • The BAME Staff Network has let us know that they are happy for BAME staff to contact them directly to discuss issues and join their network

"I took up the role of Chair of the University’s Race Equality Steering Group last year and I have worked closely with colleagues from across the University to develop and launch our Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan.  One year has passed since the launch and over the coming weeks we will be sharing updates about what the strategy has achieved so far and where we all still have work to do to create the inclusive culture that we absolutely must achieve.

"We will also seek to share individual perspectives from our black and minority ethnic students and staff along with links to other resources that may be helpful.

"What I want to make clear is that this conversation will not stop when social media moves on; the University of Sheffield is absolutely committed to long-term actions that will improve our race equality and culture for everyone."