It is time to tackle inequality – once and for all.

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I represent one of the areas in London that has been most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Since being elected in late January, I have seen first-hand how the current health crisis is ripping holes right through our community, particularly in diverse places like Alperton. It is abundantly clear that the impact of what is happening now is something that we will be dealing with for a very long time.

However, the issues that this period has exposed are not new. They have always been here. The entrenched inequality. Racial injustice. Poverty. It really should not have taken a global pandemic and a subsequent deep economic recession for these issues to be brought out into the open. It is now our job to do everything possible to safeguard the most vulnerable in our society, by tackling these issues head on.

My short time as a local Councillor has been a steep learning curve. When I won my seat in Alperton, after a particularly disappointing general election result for my party, no one could have foreseen the challenges that we would all be dealing with only weeks later. The national lockdown was enforced and we had to get organised on the ground. With the help of dozens of local residents and volunteers, we provided support to vulnerable groups, particularly elderly residents and those who were required to remain in total isolation. I helped to set up a local kitchen, which at its peak was providing thousands of meals a week to residents in Alperton, Brent and across London. In doing so, I saw for myself the extent of the entrenched inequality that exists in my borough. The kitchen was gifting meals to people that were just about getting by before the pandemic, and during it had been pushed into poverty, requiring support to feed themselves and their families. This tragic state of affairs highlights the food poverty that exists in 2020 London. Isn’t it about time that we tackled this? After all, what does it say about one of the richest countries in the world, when some in our communities cannot even afford to put food on the table?

The impact Covid-19 is having on our black and ethnic minority communities is vast.We see this through government data which shows the disproportionate mortality rate, or on the ground in places like my own ward. I have been there to support families from different ethnic backgrounds who are grieving unexpected loss and helped people who have suddenly become unemployed or are at risk of losing their job.

I can attest to the fact that a large number of residents in Alperton are part of that widely celebrated group of key workers. And yet, all we did for them was clap at 8pm on Thursday night during the lockdown. NHS staff, bus drivers, factory workers, bin men, supermarket employees. Many of whom are black and ethnic minority. They weren’t able to conduct work by Zoom, rather they put themselves at risk every single day to ensure our city continued to function even in its darkest hours. There must now be a recognition of how undervalued many key workers have been for so long. I am proud that my party has begun exploring ideas like Universal Basic Income, which would go a long way in seeking to tackle entrenched inequality and give everyone, particularly key workers a needed financial boost. But the government now needs to do more to provide easier access to Universal Credit or to government funds to support this very important part of our society.

We don’t know how long things will remain as they are. At the time of writing the government has just announced a new tier system, which has added even more confusion to an already muddled response to this crisis. There can be no doubt that without direct action on the issues Covid-19 has highlighted, we will be allowing the inequality that exists in London and across the UK to remain and to fester. I for one, will be supporting calls from Operation Black Vote for the government to urgently establish a Covid-19 Race Equality Strategy. We need a radical plan to tackle inequality, without it, our communities will continue to suffer.


Cllr Anton Georgiou

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A call to action...

For 24 years OBV have fought to ensure black and minority ethnic participation and representation in civic society. Efforts in continuing to do so though, relies on your help. That way we can continue this fight for greater race equality. What would give us a tremendous boost is if today, you made that small donation yourselves, but even more importantly if you encouraged others to do likewise.

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