One Year On
The story of how we started
I am sitting on the living room floor. My legs are crossed, my head in my hands.
The TV plays, the news has been on for hours. I flip through the channels, I get up and walk around, I come back to the news again.
I cannot stop watching.
It is early April 2020, and the country has gone into a national lockdown. Reports break that the first eight NHS doctors to die on the frontline are all from ethnic minority backgrounds.
I’ve worked in the social sector for over a decade, and in that time, I have learnt how to spot an emerging need.
Whilst racial inequality is not new, the realisation that the pandemic was going to hit some people and communities harder than others sunk in quickly for me. Looking back at those first few weeks of lockdown, like many others, I was both scared and desperate to help.
I was also seeing these big gaps and divides in the way that the pandemic was already affecting different people. My goal was (and remains) to bridge these gaps. On April 12th 2020, we released the first version of the Spark and Co. Resource Directory.
The original version of the site was created to enable racialised (or ethnic minority, for want of a better word) people and communities to access information and support that was trustworthy, accessible and intersectional.
Our impact so far
Much of the past year for us has been about reacting, responding and providing support. Since our launch, we have:
- Secured £120k grant fund from the National Lottery Community Foundation for our Covid-19 emergency response work
- Seen 50k unique users of our redeveloped Resource Directory
- Delivered our Tackling Digital Exclusion programme in 5 regions across the UK, with the help of our partners, who supported 128 families to get online and reached 250 families with offline information
- Created over 40 paid opportunities, with ⅓ of our annual budget reinvested into our community
- Developed over 75 partnerships (which were vital to the delivery of our work) - 95% of with individuals and organisations we work with have lived experience of racial inequality.
On the horizon
I’m proud of the role we played in ensuring that the people and communities we work with were able to navigate through the challenges amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic.
A year on, we continue to respond to emerging needs; from confusion around changing Government rules, to issues caused by the digital divide, to the ramifications of vaccine hesitancy.
As we look forward, we remain committed to tackling racial inequality in the UK.
We will also be developing our work supporting businesses and institutions to adapt to a changing world, and engage with ethnic minority people in more meaningful and inclusive ways. I’m especially excited about the launch Spark Insights (our research and consultancy offer).
The past year will remain one of the most challenging, surreal and rewarding of my life. I couldn’t have imagined back then the journey leading Spark and Co. would take me on. I’m incredibly thankful for each and every one of you who have supported, partnered, collaborated and championed us. Thank you for your role in enabling us to create our impact - we couldn’t have done it without you!
This post was written by our Founder and Director, Ishita Ranjan. Find out more about Ishita and get in touch here.