Honouring achievers via the honours system
Iwas privileged to attend an insightful meeting the other day, held by the Government’s Cabinet Office and hosted by Dr Yvonne Thompson, CEO of the African Caribbean Business Network (ACBN). It was centred on demystifying the honours system, in an attempt to encourage the nominations of more minorities and women. It is a sad fact that there are far too many unsung heroes out there – particularly from the BME community – many of whom are not getting the due recognition they deserve.
An astounding revelation made at this meeting was the fact that a meagre 6% of nominations hail from the BME community, and even within that, Indians and Chinese people were well ahead of Black people, who have the lowest percentage of nominees overall.
With all the great work that many Black people are doing, both now and historically over the years, it’s somewhat of a travesty that we are still far from being recognised publicly. Having an award is not to be sneered at; it is proof that what you are doing is really making an impact. Just think how many individuals from the Church could let their light shine through this recognition.
Awards include being knighted, receiving an Order of the British Empire (OBE) or Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), which are some of the most common ones. Some familiar honourees include former news correspondent, Trevor McDonald; Beverley De-Gale, co-founder of the ACLT (African Caribbean Leukemia Trust), and Baroness Doreen Lawrence.
Dr Yvonne Thompson, herself an honouree (CBE) and who incidentally sits on the Cabinet Office’s Honours Committee, is seeking ways to redress this imbalance, by increasing both women and Black and minority ethnic awareness of the honours system, to ensure that more Black and ethnic minorities have the opportunity to be publicly recognised for their contributions to society.
How do I make a nomination?
Often, honours go to people in the civil services, sport, etc, who understand the process. A lot of people are doing good work in the community, but are either unaware of the process of being nominated for a Queen’s honour, or feel they have no chance of getting one.
Making a nomination is fairly simple. If you wish to nominate someone for an honour, you can obtain an honours nomination form (along with detailed guidance and case studies) at www.gov.uk/honours. Or phone the honours team in the Cabinet Office on 020 7276 2777 to talk through the process. You can even get help from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Do you know someone who is worthy of honour?
Receiving an honour can be a real door opener, helping to promote further good work. It is not reserved just for the famous, but for anyone who is doing outstanding work in the community, and I am sure a number of us can name one or two people within our own communities. The Bible encourages us to give honour to whom honour is due (Romans 13:7). Why not nominate someone today? Call 020 7276 2777, or download a nomination pack from www.gov.uk/honours.
Evelyn Asante-Mensah, OBE for services to Healthcare. Evelyn received national recognition for her role as Chair of NHS Manchester, Race for Health, Manchester Health Inequalities Partnership, and as Chief Executive of the Black Health Agency, promoting greater health awareness in the Black and minority ethnic community, and better access to services. She is currently a Commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
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Lara Rufus is former Chair of the Black Fundraisers’ Network; www.crowneconsultancy.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org