Church-backed inquiry planned on African and Caribbean families in Britain

By staff writers
October 2, 2010

An inquiry into the challenges and opportunities of black families is set to shed new light on assumptions about race relations in Britain, say its convenors.

Dr R. David Muir will announce the Commission of Inquiry and its terms of reference at the launch of Faith in Britain, a new not-for-profit think tank next week.

The Commission will be chaired by academic Professor Chris Mullard, who received a CBE in 2004 for his services to race relations in Britain.

Dr Muir, who is himself the son of Caribbean parents who arrived in Britain in the 1950s says: “Contemporary black Briton is rapidly changing. The inquiry will highlight what community groups and parents are already doing to improve the opportunities and chances of children and young people. This is not a witch hunt on absent fathers."

The findings of the year-long study are set to shape future government policy affecting family life as well as form the basis of a number of projects aimed at raising the profile of black people in education and public life, claims Dr Muir.

The commission will be formally launched at the Jubilee Room in the House of Commons, Westminster, London, at midday on 5 October 2010.

While the inquiry will look into the incidence of absent fathers and the causes and stereotypes around this issue, it will also promote models of responsible parenting among both single mums and dads and the extended family.

Professor Mullard adds: "The commission of inquiry will provide empirical data to inform public policy as well as facilitate conversation about the complex challenges facing families, especially among African and Caribbean families. It will also help to promote and build upon the good work currently done by other organisations working to improve family life."

The study, entitled the Commission on African and Caribbean Families in Britain, will proceed by taking written and oral evidence from people about their experience of raising children in the UK.

The Commission will travel to major UK cities, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Reading and Cardiff to meet with leaders of the black community as well as parents.

The project has won the support of several political and church leaders. They include Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Eric Brown, Dr Tayo Adeyemi and Stephen Timms, who is Labour MP for East Ham and the party’s vice chair for Faith Groups.

Another backer is David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham. Mr Lammy was one of five children raised by a single mother and was the first black Briton to study for a master’s degree in law at the Harvard Law School in the USA.


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