30 / Nov / 2023

Harm to Healing - Resisting Racial Injustice in the Criminal Legal System of England and Wales

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We commissioned this research in July 2022, with the aim of mapping ‘by and for’ groups working at the intersection of racial injustice and the criminal legal system. We wanted the work to inform what we do as a funder moving forwards, as well as hoping to prompt action more broadly from other funders. This came from a recognition that we needed to do more to address systemic racial injustice that has been well documented and continues in the criminal legal system. Our core mission is centred around human rights and human dignity, yet we found that we had inadvertently created barriers that excluded many of the organisations working in this space.

In 2019, we began organising a series of roundtables, alongside our partners at the Barrow Cadbury Trust, to bring funders together and try to focus funding around addressing streams of work in this space. Off the back of this, we began trying to get flexible funding to small, by and for groups operating in this space.

This was a learning curve for us – exploring how we can fund organisations of different structures and sizes than we were used to and building relationships with organisations. We supported 15 groups directly – across the UK and ranging from service delivery to policy work.

We always knew that we wanted the work to have impact beyond our own funding, to encourage other funders to shift their funding to increase focus on the intersection of racial injustice and the criminal legal system. While we could share our learning and experiences with others, we felt that the best way to galvanise support was to commission some research to map the space and hear from the groups themselves, to learn about the challenges they face and show how effective they are.

We’d never commissioned research of this kind before and were grateful to have support of our partners and friends in developing it. With Temi and Patrick’s experience across grassroots work and academia, they were the perfect combination to take this work forward- rooted in values that centred the leadership of the communities and organisations.

The report highlights the injustices faced by Black communities as they navigate the apparatus of the criminal legal system. These organisations are delivering crucial, community rooted and culturally competent services to their communities. Alongside this they are calling for change, and working to challenge the injustice of the system. This has been done despite systemic underfunding.

So, what next?

This is a call for independent philanthropy to come together to provide the resources needed for these groups to be properly resourced to address the harms faced, and move towards a place of healing within their communities.

This is long term work – it’s about trying something different and being in this for the long haul - to give organisations the space and time to work together, strategise and collaborate.

It is also complex work, but we are committed to taking forward the recommendations for the research and exploring how we might support the development of the Harm to Healing Coalition. This includes supporting a funder roundtable in February 2024, and exploring the possibility of providing the infrastructure to support a fund to take forward the vital work of the Harm to Healing Coalition.

Read Harm to Healing - Resisting Racial Injustice in the Criminal Legal System of England and Wales.

Read the funder briefing if you are interested in supporting this work.

Keep up to date by visiting www.harmtohealing.uk or follow @HarmtoHealingUK.