It may be the end of another year, but our work must continue.
For many, the New Year marks new beginnings and major changes. In some ways, change can be beneficial, but there must also be consistency in other areas — our work is one of them. As COVID-19 leaves some groups more isolated than ever, it is vital for us to be able to continue to empower the marginalised to play active roles in their communities and speak up for groups who are being ignored or even scapegoated in responses to the pandemic.
Our beneficiaries include some of the most marginalised and excluded women and young people in our communities. For these individuals, we may be their only source of support in a society that ignores their voices or treats them like second-class citizens. JAN Trust acts as a safe space to seek advice and guidance on important issues like domestic violence or personal health for women who would otherwise have no access to such resources.
Most of the people who are reading this blog will be aware of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minority ethnic groups and the lack of consideration given to our minority communities in the policy response. As individuals have been forced to adapt during the pandemic and many have faced extreme financial difficulties, it is now even more important for us to continue to provide a supportive environment for our users to attend workshops and earn qualifications, such as in English or on IT skills, where and when possible to do so.
Amidst the political confusion and political change with both Brexit and the pandemic, we must continue to hold the government accountable and speak up for those who do not have a voice. Political change brings confusion, but turmoil is a two-sided coin: on the one hand, many important issues are being ignored; on the other hand, the changes are a good opportunity to push for change to occur in other policy areas at the same time. For example, the pandemic has further highlighted the need for the abolition of the hostile environment (or ‘compliant environment’) policy to reduce the inequalities between immigrant and non-immigrant individuals, particularly as intersectionality means that immigrant women must face a horrific combination of conditions.
As focus has shifted to COVID-19 and Brexit, little attention has been paid to counterterrorism, but the vulnerability of young people to radicalisation has, in fact, increased during lockdown as a result of the isolation and increased time spent online. Third sector and public sector workers being unable to provide assistance in person in such situations has shown the extreme importance of family members being aware of signs of extremism and best practices for appropriate responses when they suspect a family member has been radicalised. JAN Trust runs the pioneering, evidence-based Web Guardians™ programme to help women to have the capacity to protect their loved ones and communities from online extremism. The past year has shown us that, if anything, this is exactly the kind of counter extremism programme that is required to truly fight against one of the biggest threats to society as we know it.
2020 was a very turbulent year and 2021 marks a new beginning. It is a new year, but society still has many of the same problems. JAN Trust’s work must continue so that we can continue to help the marginalised. We must continue to draw attention to issues that are missed by the majority of society and politicians. Join us by speaking up on the issues that matter to you and donating to provide us with the vital funds needed to sustain our programmes and services.