Talking about Race – from Montreal to London

Talking about race & racism can be difficult. For those of us working in prisons, immigration removal centres and forensic units we might be aware that rates of incarceration are higher than they should be for racialised people.

Black people make up 12% of the UK prison population but only 3% of black people reside in the UK (Lammy, 2017). Overrepresentation of black people is found in all psychiatric settings but is greatest in forensic units (McKenzie, 2004) where often the diagnosis received is psychosis.

Members of the Hearing Voices team travelled to snowy Montreal this November where we took part in the 11th World Hearing Voices Congress. Voices Unlocked piloted a workshop addressing the legacy of colonialism with global majority voice hearers.

We then went on to run a one-day training in Central London entitled ‘Opening Up Conversations – Let’s talk about Race’  thinking around how to engage with race in a meaningful way for the people we work with. We covered the structural realities that shape our awareness of racism, we unpacked what it means to be white, covert racism vs overt racism, colour-blindness and honoured how black, brown and white bodies all hold racialised trauma, especially in forensic settings.

Feedback for both the workshop and training was good and we hope to run the one-day course again in 2020.

For some of the topics raised, please follow the link to read a blog written by Jessica Pons for Mental Health Today.

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