07/10/2021 - Permalink

Black History Month 2021 and racism awareness: A conversation in the county with Patrick Vernon OBE

Related topics: Community / Corporate / Partner organisations

Shropshire Council is delighted to be welcoming Patrick Vernon OBE to the county on Wednesday 20 October 2021 to share his unique experience and insight as a high-profile national commentator, campaigner and cultural historian, in an Expert Seminar at Theatre Severn.

Patrick Vernon OBE

Patrick Vernon OBE

Staff from the council will form the audience at the theatre, with a livestream audience joining in virtually from the council and other public sector and business sector organisations across the region.

The two hour session will focus on how individuals and organisations can better understand various forms of racism as well as racial bias, and the issues affecting the black community in the context of the current climate and black history.

It has been developed following the need identified by managers to feel more confident and competent in knowing what to do when dealing with race issues. Patrick will bring his knowledge, as co-author of “100 Great Black Britons”, of the richness of this history.

Black History Month 2021 logo

Black History Month 2021 logo

Organised as part of Black History Month activities in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin, the session will also include a conversation panel of people with a range of perspectives from Shropshire and the region. The panel is scheduled to comprise of Andy Begley, Shropshire Council’s chief executive; Kal Parkash and Dr Priya George, sharing local South Asian and healthcare perspectives; and Edna Boampong, sharing perspectives as a senior woman of colour. Carl Jones is confirmed as compere for the event, which is being sponsored by Shrewsbury Colleges Group, the University of Chester, and the University of Wolverhampton.

Patrick Vernon OBE said:-

“I am delighted to be able to come to Shropshire as part of Black History Month, and to share what I hope will be pertinent perspectives on recognising and handling racism in the workplace and in the wider community. Having just been made an Honorary Professor at Wolverhampton University’s Institute for Community Research Development, this is a great opportunity for me to also find out more about joint efforts being made in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin to tackle health inequalities for ethnic minority communities, and to share my experience in that regard.”

Lezley Picton, Leader of Shropshire Council, said:- 

“As an organisation that will not tolerate any form of discrimination, we very much welcome Patrick Vernon OBE’s assistance in leading an extremely important discussion to help all of us to better understand racial issues that may arise in the workplace. The event demonstrates not only indication of the highest level possible of our commitment to tackling racism, but also our commitment to investing in our staff to help them to gain confidence and act as leaders themselves in tackling racism.

“In hosting the event during Black History Month, and linking it with a range of other activities as an organisation and with our partners, we are proud to support the aims of Black History Month. I am personally looking forward to meeting Patrick Vernon, and to participating in what will be a very insightful, educational and thought-provoking event.”

Andy Begley, Shropshire Council’s chief executive, added:-

“I feel very honoured to be part of this event. As a council we have zero tolerance for any form of discrimination. We are looking forward to sharing the event online on the day with colleagues from the health and social care sector and the business and academic sectors, as well as other council colleagues; and to sharing the learning afterwards through the livestream recording.”

Further information

Patrick Vernon OBE

Patrick Vernon is a social commentator and campaigner and has been at the forefront of several high-profile campaigns on cultural heritage and social justice in the UK over the last decade. His OBE was awarded in 2012 for his work in tackling health inequalities in ethnic minority communities in Britain.

He has used experience in senior management in the voluntary and public sector plus his passion in for cultural history to develop new models of thinking around transformation changes in service development, equalities, innovative thinking for social change.

He is a trained life coach and mediator whose experience and knowledge has been used for leadership development and public speaking from grass roots organisations to public and private bodies.

Intended outcomes for participants 

  • To feel more comfortable, confident, and competent in acting accordingly when dealing with race issues.
  • To have a shared and collective ownership and understanding of what to do and say in their day-to-day conversations and interactions with staff, colleagues, partners and customers.
  • To have a greater feeling that they are being supported by their managers, and greater likelihood of attracting people from diverse backgrounds to come and work in and with their organisation.

Shropshire Archives 

Sources at Shropshire Archives show how the abolition movement found support in Shropshire at the end of the 18th century and how campaigners and emancipated slaves visited the county.

Local boroughs, in particular Bridgnorth and Much Wenlock, regularly petitioned Parliament for the abolition of slavery.

A fantastic series of diaries by Katherine Plymley show the support she and her brother, Archdeacon Joseph Plymley of Longnor, gave to the Abolitionist movement. She writes with admiration for Prince Naimbana of Mobana who visited Britain in 1791 and also describes meeting Gustavas Vasa (also known as Olaudah Equiano) who was enslaved at 11 but bought his freedom and wrote compellingly about his experiences (Shropshire Archives refs 1066/17 and 19). She could very much be described as an early White Ally in Shropshire, together with her brother.

Further details, including her role in a boycott of the sugar trade, may be found via the following links:-



Shropshire Archives operates across Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. It aims to collect material which relates to the whole community of Shropshire past and present. We are aware that the collections don’t always reflect this fully and the service would be grateful for any help which enables us to build a more complete picture of life in Shropshire.

If people would like to share their knowledge and perspectives about their families, or look into the archives to find out more, the Archives service would be delighted to hear from them and to assist them. In so doing, we can reach a fuller collective understanding of the contributions that people of colour have made to life in Shropshire. Please contact archives@shropshire.gov.uk