The West Against Racism Network is a grassroots campaign based in West Belfast which campaigns against institutionalised racism and actively promotes an anti racist culture in West Belfast.
We grew out of the broader Anti Racism Network which was set up in 2002 in response to the increase in the number of racist attacks occurring in Belfast at that time. We are a non funded group and are not affiliated to any political party. We are open to any individual or group to get involved – the only criteria is that they are committed to the overall aim and objectives of our group.
Our primary focus is to campaign against state racism in all its form, whether that be in relation to employment, accommodation, policing, immigration, service provision or any other area. We also actively promote an anti racist culture in West Belfast, communicating the message that racism has no place in our community.
West Belfast has a well deserved reputation of being a welcoming community, with a proud history of working towards a more equal and inclusive society for all. Sadly racism in Belfast and elsewhere has been steadily on the rise in recent years; the appalling attacks on members of the Roma community in the summer of 2009 were but one example of this. In West Belfast the Traveller community continues to be denied basic human rights and experiences discrimination on a daily basis.
While many attacks go unreported for various reasons, anecdotal evidence would demonstrate that racist attacks do occur in West Belfast. Racism ruins lives – it devastates the victims but it also damages the social and economic fabric of communities. The challenge of ensuring that our community in West Belfast is one in which there is no place for racism is one we are all concerned with and one which we can all contribute to achieving.
WARN has engaged in a range of activities to raise awareness of and challenge racism in West Belfast including:
- Production of anti-racism awareness raising materials including a ‘Republic of Conscience’ anti-racism passport and a ‘Many Faces of West Belfast’ anti-racism poster distributed to shops, pubs, clubs and community organisations.
- Launch of a ‘Comhar na gComharsan’ Welcome Pack for minority ethnic communities, in conjunction with a number of community and voluntary organisations in West Belfast.
- Development and promotion of an anti racism Charter for West Belfast – this Charter is open for signature by all community and voluntary organizations, statutory agencies, service providers, churches, schools, businesses and pubs and clubs in West Belfast.
- Highlighting and responding collectively to racist incidents in West Belfast
- Challenging racist policies and practice operated by government departments and statutory agencies.