Black Lives Matter: Statement and Pledge

The team of office administrators, clinical supervisors, counsellors, management and trustees at Waterloo Community Counselling absolutely condemn the racialised murders and persecution of innocent black people by the police and authorities in the United States and across the world.

WCC has been moved and inspired by the groundswell of brave protest movements on the streets, not only in America but across many countries and also within the UK. WCC recognises and understands that the UK also has deeply entrenched, systemic and institutionalised racist structures stemming from centuries of slavery, imperial colonisation and the explicit exploitation of black people.

The shocking recent events in the USA have coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and in particular the now proven realisation that in the UK, BAME communities are disproportionately likely to be infected and die from COVID-19.

As an organisation that prides itself on its work with BAME, refugee and asylum-seeking communities in London we understand we have a responsibility to speak out on these important issues. Therefore, WCC wholeheartedly condemns racism and the racist boundaries and violent systems that stand in the way for so many people and communities in the UK and the world over.

During this time of increased consciousness, and  with a heightened awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement WCC has been inspired to look within and have a frank, reflective discussion of our own potentially racially-biased conduct, policies and procedures. We wish to encourage racial literacy, open dialogue and a level of humility in recognising that as an organisation we are also part of wider system of racism.

It is high time WCC, and other organisations, confront the glaring fact that psychology, psychotherapy and counselling are predominantly white-dominated spaces. We work in an industry which is far easier to work in and access by being white. As a community therapy service we have felt the effect of mental health cuts and austerity measures, whilst these cuts affect people of all races who live on lower incomes it is clear that a disproportionate number of those who suffer most are black and minority ethnic people.

Now, during this period of great pain and upheaval, it is time we address and consider these injustices. Therefore, as a matter of priority, WCC pledges to hire more BAME individuals within its team of English speaking counsellors. We welcome applications from professionals to be part of our team of sessional counsellors, supervisors and trustees. We are proud of our diverse team of counsellors within the Multi-Ethnic Counselling Service but fear that this has made us complacent about obvious lacking diversity elsewhere at WCC. We will reassess our policies and procedures surrounding placements for trainee counsellors and we will actively encourage universities to recommend WCC as placement location for their BAME students.

We will review our processes on an annual basis to ensure that we are making progress in having a representative and diverse clinical and administrative team. As part of the progress review we will annually survey the team at WCC to understand individual experiences of work practices. We want a transparent and open working environment where no one is made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. Therefore, we will continue to revisit and review our organisational policies relating to equal opportunities and staff conduct to ensure that there is explicit rules in place to protect BAME members of staff.

July 2020.