Barnardo's hits back at Tory MPs upset by talk of 'white privilege'

Molly Blackall
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Maddie Red Photography/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Maddie Red Photography/Alamy

Barnardo’s, the UK’s biggest children’s charity, has hit back after a group of MPs complained about its blogpost discussing racial inequality and white privilege.

The post had offered parents tips on how to discuss “white privilege” with their children.

The post acknowledged that, while the charity’s white service users faced “inequality and disadvantage” on a daily basis, service users from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds faced additional challenges due to the colour of their skin.

Drawing on news articles and research, the blogpost went on to explain the meaning of the term “white privilege” and to discuss the systemic racism faced by BAME people in the UK, while insisting that: “This doesn’t mean that, as a white person, you haven’t worked hard for what you have, or that you haven’t suffered.”

On Friday, 12 Conservative MPs wrote to Barnardo’s chief executive, Javed Khan, expressing their “concern and disappointment” at the blogpost.

The MPs claimed that the term “white privilege” did “great damage to the cause of the poor and marginalised”.

They described the post as “ideological dogma” and “divisive militancy”, and said they had asked the chair of the Charity Commission to investigate the post.

The MPs were from the Common Sense Group, 59 MPs and seven members of the House of Lords who are committed to promoting a “traditional Tory view” on immigration and working against “the woke agenda”.

Barnardo’s vice-president, Dr David Barnardo, hit back at the letter, saying the charity was “as committed as ever to representing and advocating for all vulnerable children”, but could not be “colour blind”.

“Whilst poverty and disadvantage is a reality for children from all backgrounds, colours and creeds – across our UK services, day in day out we see that black, Asian and minority ethnic children face additional challenges as well,” he said.

“On top of experiencing poverty, lack of access to opportunity, childhood trauma, multiple forms of abuse, and criminal exploitation, this group are also treated less fairly at school, by employers, and by the criminal justice system. They have poorer housing, and poorer health outcomes.”

Barnardo also said Khan – the charity’s chief executive, who is from a BAME background – had been the target of “explicit racism” following the blogpost.

“Barnardo’s will keep raising the issues that matter for all vulnerable children regardless of where they were born, how much their parents earned, or the colour of their skin,” he added.

“Sometimes that conversation will be uncomfortable, but avoiding discussion of issues that are deeply important for entire communities of people is no longer acceptable.”