Bishop of Chelmsford responds to Government statement on race disparity audit

On 10th October 2017 a Government statement about the new race disparity audit was repeated in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, responded to the statement: 

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, although, let me be clear, the Church of England has nothing to teach anyone else on this subject—our record is not a good one—in the diocese of Chelmsford, where I serve, which includes the east London boroughs, which ​have some of the most diverse communities in Europe, we have found that of course there is racism and xenophobia but there is also what has been explained to me as unconscious bias.

It is not quite the same as racism; it is those things which prevent us from seeing each other as clearly as we need to. Both in the Church of England generally and in the diocese where I serve, we have done a lot of training over the past couple of years to help people to see their own unconscious bias towards people, and this is already bearing fruit in the church context with black and global majority people coming forward into positions. I wondered whether the Government had looked at that both for us and in wider society to try to move the debate on beyond the binary thing of, “Somebody is a racist or they are not”.

Lord Young of Cookham: I welcome the work which the right reverend Prelate has been doing in east London, in his diocese. If there is a template there, a model of working which can have wider application, of course the Government would be interested. One thing that I discovered from going on to the website this morning, which I had not appreciated before, is that black people are disproportionately more likely to engage in voluntary work than any other group. If one digs into the audit, there is a lot of good news there about ethnic minorities, which I hope we can now put in a wider domain. If we can build on the good work that the Church has done in east London and apply it to some other areas where there are big ethnic minority populations, the Government would be delighted.