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Wales Online
Wales Online
Richard Youle

New multicultural hub recommended as long-awaited diversity report gets cabinet approval

The creation of a multi-cultural hub in Carmarthenshire would help the council increase its proportion of black, Asian and minority ethnic staff, according to a report. The hub recommendation was one of several by a council task and finish group, which was set up following widespread condemnation of the death of US citizen George Floyd and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The group also looked into controversy about monuments commemorating historical figures who were also involved in the slave trade, such as Pembrokeshire-born soldier Sir Thomas Picton, who died in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. New information boards have been placed at the Picton Monument, Carmarthen, which depict the lieutenant-general through a different historical lens.

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The report, presented at a cabinet meeting, said the council's percentage of black, Asian and minority ethnic employees was lower than the Carmarthenshire-wide percentage of 1.7%, although this figure was drawn from the 2011 rather than the 2021 census. The report said a new multi-cultural hub, based on observations of a similar hub in Swansea, would have a significant impact on improving workforce representation.

Information boards at the Picton Memorial, Carmarthen, depicting war hero Sir Thomas Picton through a different historical lens due to his slave-owning past (Richard Youle)

Members of the task and finish group heard from current and former black, Asian and minority ethnic pupils, and assessed this cohort's achievement in school. They also looked at the number of school exclusions for racial abuse.

Pupils who spoke to the group said they'd had personal experience of racial abuse but felt confident in dealing with it and which teacher to report it to. However, some felt incidents which were caused by racial abuse were addressed but not the underlying reason. The pupils believed more could be done to promote black history, and that more diversity in the workforce was essential as that would make it easier to identify role models.

The report added: "Pupils drew attention to the perceived lack of understanding in relation to the cultural pressures placed on some by their communities. These pressures include academic success, which some pupils felt exhausted by."

Cllr Ann Davies, cabinet member for rural affairs and community cohesion, said many of the report's recommendations were being rolled out across Wales as part of a Welsh Government action plan. Others will be covered by the new school curriculum. Cllr Davies added: "We need to ensure that there is a career pathway for everybody no matter what their religion or what their skin colour is."

Referring to the new curriculum, Cllr Glynog Davies, who has the education portfolio, said: "Our young people and children will benefit very much from this. They will have a much better understanding of life in general, and I think that's so important for young people these days."

Cabinet accepted the recommendations, which include a feasibility study into the need and cost of a multi-cultural hub. Another recommendation was for the council to employ an equality, diversity, multi-cultural history, identity and heritage officer.

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