We at Children England have been thinking, feeling and talking about the murder of George Floyd in the United States and the long-standing structural racism that facilitates brutality against Black people in the US, the UK and across the world. As an organisation which campaigns to reduce structural inequalities for children at a national level, and also as a team of individuals with varied experiences of privilege and oppression, we are aware that these issues are not new, but the ongoing and tragic results of hundreds of years of colonialism and white supremacy. We are distressed to know that children and young people in the UK are witnessing the state-authorised violence against Black people in the United States, and that many of them cannot feel safe from racism in our own society.

We condemn police brutality towards Black people and towards anti-racist protests wherever it happens, including here in the UK. We support the rights of all people, including our children and young people, to be treated with fundamental respect for their human dignity, their right to peaceful protest, to have their voices heard and contributions to society recognised and celebrated. We have always believed in, campaigned for and committed to children’s rights standards, but the vision and principles first declared in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can never be achieved if we fail as a society to ensure the safety and dignity of every person among us. Black lives must matter, and they matter to all of us.

This statement isn’t our usual kind of organisational statement: it reflects the thoughts, words and feelings of the whole staff team as people and as citizens, not just as professionals. We wanted to share our thoughts at this time because behind our tiny organisation are seven humans, all committed to challenge injustices of many kinds. As Dr Martin Luther King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

As one of our team reflected: Metaphorically speaking, it is almost like having subsidence in your home for many years and not having any visible trees surrounding the vicinity and then discovering that there is a tree that was cut down many years ago but its roots remained and continued to grow underneath your building causing the subsidence to continue. George Floyd's death can be seen as a catalyst for exposing these roots for what they are and that is roots of systemic and structural inequalities that like stage four cancer spreads to affect every aspect of society to the point where it can no longer be localised. It affects everywhere and everyone and we are deeply moved by this. We want to help facilitate the change that is needed for a fairer society where this building can be brought down and rebuilt on a system that encourages self actualisation as a tangible possibility for everyone in our society.

As another of our team said, ‘The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places the opposite of poverty is justice’ (quoting Bryan Stevenson, civil rights lawyer). While Black and minority ethnic children in many countries including our own are growing up simply aspiring to stay alive and safe, rather than to fulfil their potential, it is our responsibility to strive for better.

We know that words are not enough. We know that as Children England and as humans we have more to do to educate ourselves, to listen to and support others, give greater profile and platform to the voices and brilliant work of black and minority ethnic children, young people and community organisations, and to change the structures which perpetuate white privilege and systematically disadvantage people of colour. As an organisation led and governed by white people we are committed to bring greater diversity to our Board, and to take responsibility for understanding what else we must change in how we work and what we do. We can do better, and we intend to.