IN a first for the city an anti-racism summit is set to be held in York next week.

The summit, co-hosted by the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, will see key figures and multi-faith leaders gather at Bishopthorpe Palace on January 24.

About 60 people are set to attend the event organised by York-based Inclusive Equal Rights UK (IERUK).

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The summit will include representatives from the Church of England, York Mosque and Islamic Centre, the York Liberal Jewish Community, York Travellers’ Trust and Refugee Action York.

Haddy Njie, chair of Inclusive Equal Rights UK, said: "Hate and racism persist as divisive forces in our modern world, but within the heart of York the ‘Inclusive Equal Rights’ summit is not just as a response, but a stand.

"The summit stands as a testament to our collective duty to confront these issues head-on, fostering unity across civic, public, private sector, faith and none faith groups, in order to create greater understanding and a brighter and inclusive future for all."

York Press: Haddy NijeHaddy Nije (Image: Lorne Campbell Guzelian)

Haddy was instrumental in raising the issue of racism in York, after experiencing racism in the city. She put forward the motion to make York the north’s first anti-racist city, following similar initiatives in Oxford, Brighton, and Derby.

And in July last year, City of York Council’s executive approved a city-wide five-year anti-racism and inclusion strategy, developed by IERUK. The ambition is for York to be the first anti-racism city in the north.

Archbishop Stephen said: "This summit is an important next step in our ambition to make York an anti-racist and inclusive city. 

"Only by working together, can we make a lasting difference. The eradication of racism and hate in our society is not just a goal, but a moral imperative, and it is essential for the flourishing of all humanity."

York Press: Archbishop StephenArchbishop Stephen

North Yorkshire Police data shows instances of recorded racial hate crimes in York and North Yorkshire increased by 239 per cent, from 152 incidents in 2012 to 515 in 2020. Across the UK, in December, police recorded a record rise in religious hate crimes after the Israel-Gaza war.

At the event the Archbishop is set to chair a Q&A session and others who will be attending the summit include the leaders of North Yorkshire Council, Cllr Carl Les OBE, and City of York Council, Cllr Clare Douglas, as well as the Lord Lieutenant for North Yorkshire, Jo Ropner, and the Mayor of York, Chris Cullwick.

Figures from the education sector are expected to attend from York St John University, Askham Bryan College, and the University of York, as well as representatives from North Yorkshire Police. Business leaders from York BID and the CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Paul Kissack are also expected to take part.

The summit is set to coincide with the UN Education and Peace Day, and aims to foster dialogue, understanding, and cooperation to help combat the pressing issues of racism and hate.