Black History Month – Melika gives an ICV perspective on why diversity is important

ICVA News

October 24, 2019

  • blogging
  • custody visits
  • detainee welfare
  • diversity
  • gender
  • social media
  • volunteers

My name is Melika and I am an ICV at Brighton in Sussex.

I moved to East Sussex in March 2018 on my own and apart from my dad I didn’t know anyone from down here. I thought that volunteering would be a great way to meet people as well as give me something to whist giving back to the community. I found this opportunity to become an ICV randomly online and being a full-time court clerk in the crown courts I thought it would be a great opportunity to volunteer doing something that is in a way connected to my job.   It would allow me to see the process of justice from the very start until the end when they appear at court and for me that is something that interests me and help me understand the system a bit more.   It was not something I had ever heard about before and I wondered why this isn’t spoken about as is a really good way to ensure fairness and transparency to the public.

For me is very important that the ICV Scheme has representatives from all sections of the community.  Being black British and growing up in South London the diversity in ethnicity is miles apart in comparison to East Sussex and for me is a big reason why I was keen to be part of a panel and represent those like me.  It also gives the public reassurances that not only are the police being monitored independently on the treatment of detained persons but are also aware of the lack of diversity issues within the community and are show a good representation for ethnic minorities.

I feel it also gives ethnic minorities a bit more confidence to talk openly with someone who can relate to some of the struggles they might face.

I think I contribute to the Scheme by my presence, a young black female on the other side of the custody booking in station is something that may probably surprise a few people, especially in the area I cover which is Brighton.  It is no secret that the population of black or other ethnic backgrounds is Sussex low and I am proud to represent and perhaps bring a sense of familiarity to the people I meet in custody.  For me it shows great understanding for the need to show representations from all ethnicities.

I think it may also be beneficial to help the scheme understand the needs and views of people from a BAME background. This is something I am keen to continue to contribute to as my role of an ICV. The thing I enjoy the most about being an ICV is being able to give people who are often going through a very stressful time a bit of hope that someone cares and is looking out for their best interests.

It is not surprising some people do not want to talk which is understandable, but the ones I do get to talk are in the most part happy that someone is talking to them and taking the time to ensure they are ok. Sometimes a friendly smile and conversation is all that people need, for them to feel that despite their current situation their welfare is still very important and matters.  For me, it could be the smallest thing from being able to get someone something to read or reminding them they have drinking water in their cell, I feel like I have made a slight impact for the better for the time they are detained. I am still very new to the panel and I am learning and growing in confidence the more visits I do. I feel like I have a been given a great opportunity to represent BAME on such an important platform and hope to be able to a positive contributor to the scheme and community.