October is Black History Month in the United Kingdom. It is a time to celebrate the numerous achievements people of Black African descent have contributed to Britain, to challenge racism and educate ourselves. It's also an opportunity for us to introduce Mike Clarke, our new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) partner, who is helping us make our information and services more inclusive.
Mike believes his 'Windrush Generation' mother, whom Macmillan nurses wonderfully supported in the three months between her breast cancer diagnosis and her death, would be ever so pleased to see him instrumental in helping people from all backgrounds feel our cancer services are becoming increasing more equitable, more accessible, more inclusive and more culturally sensitive.
Black History Month is a perfect time for us at Macmillan to consider ways to ensure our information and services are inclusive and accessible and that they offer equity to all.
In the year since Mike has been in post, he has never doubted deciding to join Macmillan to help deliver our charity's first EDI Strategy in its 112-year history. In a Civil Society article heralding the strategy's launch, the words of our current CEO, Lynda Thomas, resonated with him deeply. "Our EDI strategy is a step in the right direction, but we have more to do."
"Born here in the UK to British Jamaican parents, my life experiences – and significantly those of my parents - have been worse than those of other communities," said Mike. "Black History has many examples of experiences that are worse than those of other communities. However, what isn't always highlighted are the positive experiences, contributions and achievements of those who self-identify as Black.
Supporting and celebrating Black History Month is an opportunity for us to start improving the lives of underserved communities everywhere. This opportunity for a concentrated focus on Black historical input and achievement in the UK becomes a stepping stone to examining how we engage with various communities. We've taken a long time to get even here. But for me, 'Black History is British History'."
How we're making our cancer information more diverse
At Macmillan, we're committed to making our information more diverse and reflecting a wide range of stories from all types of people affected by cancer. We want everyone to feel that Macmillan is for them, and we want to reflect better the communities we serve.
We are exploring new ways to reach and involve people from diverse communities in our work and constantly reviewing our information to ensure it is as inclusive as possible.
This process is a journey for Macmillan, and we are always learning. For example, we recently surveyed over 700 people from underserved communities to understand better how accessible and inclusive our services are. We will use the learnings to make improvements and to make Macmillan's information and support more representative and inclusive for all.
Want to help our drive for inclusion?
"I wholeheartedly agree with our Chief Exec that what we do externally, including in our work with the online community, inspires and influences what we do internally as an organisation. So I encourage every single one of you to share your ideas and suggestions to help us do whatever it takes to serve you better.
You have the opportunity to inspire and influence our work. You certainly inspire me. So why not also influence my work by sharing your thoughts on what you think we could be doing differently and thus better for you—for all of us?"
You can contact Mike Clarke at Inclusion@Macmillan.org.uk. Or leave a message in the comments below to share your feedback and thoughts.