UK Fostering was invited to attend a Parliamentary Reception to celebrate and mark the 40th anniversary of the organisation ‘People in Harmony’.  The reception which took place on the 22 November 2012, was hosted by Gavin Barwell MP, and provided an opportunity to explore changing mixed race experiences over the past 40 years, as well as current issues for mixed race people, couples and families.

People in Harmony was established in 1972. The aim of the organisation is to promote positive experiences of interracial life in the UK. It also aims to challenge racism, prejudice and discrimination within society.

A presentation by Dr Gillian Olumide highlighted the main areas of progress and change within the organisation over the past 40 years. The speaker also mentioned that this was the first community organisation in Britain which catered for the needs and interests of people in mixed race/ethnic relationships and their children.

Several heartfelt statements about personal experiences from the audience underlined the fact that mixed race continues to be an issue which needs to be supported by policy makers at Westminster. In particular the current review of the adoption laws were raised. ‘People in Harmony’ acknowledged that mixed race children and young people are often faced with questions and doubts about their identity and cultural heritage. Consequently they advocated that post adoption support for mixed race children could make a real difference and contribute to preventing adoption placements from breaking down.

Urs Bielmann, Director of UK Fostering, believes that the same principal applies to the fostering sector.  This applies to foster families in London, as well as for someone who was to foster in Kent or other rural areas: Support for families to recognise, accept and address issues of identity and self-esteem in children and young people is critically important. Associated and complex emotional needs involving parents, family and cultural heritage are often seen to be linked to children’s self-esteem and sense of identity, even more so for children in foster care.

For more information on ‘People in Harmony’ you can visit their website by clicking here.