Sunday, 11 October, 2020


Jamie Ounan

We believe that the best solutions are yet to be discovered and the best outcomes yet to be delivered. That is why we prepare organisations for change and help them implement it. We do this through an intimate understanding of their business, a relentless focus on delivery, the use of techniques that challenge the status quo and bridge traditional disciplines. We provide a range of services to public and private organisations including project and programme management, property consultancy, change management and strategy development and strategic advice. Contact us to discuss a project.

Sunday, 11 October, 2020

A special edition by guest writer, Cheryl Bannerman-Swaniker



Black History Month arrives in the UK during a year that has seen extraordinary movements and honest discussions about race and injustice across the world. It’s a movement we welcome and continue to be inspired by. How are local authorities tackling diversity and empowerment? We look no further than north London, to the Borough of Enfield and Peter George, Programme Director for Meridian Water.


Peter, leading that borough’s £6 billion regeneration project, said it was up to the public sector to send a “clear message” on the “lack of diversity in the architectural community.” He states that bold conditions are needed to shake-up attitudes within the profession which has ‘little to zero lived experience’ of the communities they are serving. In a viral LinkedIn post, he stated, “Our influence is our buying power, so I want Enfield Council to send a clear message to architects and the public sector, that we should stop spending public sector money on organisations that do not value diversity.” This is the type of action that will bring change and we hope to see more procurement teams take on diversity initiatives such as theirs.


The built environment sector is also making waves, as CBRE has pledged to spend £770 million next year and £2.3 billion over the next five years to increase its engagement and partnerships with businesses owned by under-represented groups. The company hopes to earn a seat at the Billion Dollar Roundtable – a group of 28 companies recognised for supplier diversity. Members of the roundtable use their large-scale purchasing power and procurement practices to influence suppliers and help local communities around the world. We are seeing a much-needed shift in the way organisations are thinking about diversity and how this supports innovation and new ways of thinking to support the challenges we face.


What other positive movements are we seeing this week? Award-winning architects RCKa have recently submitted plans to build a net-zero carbon retirement village on a former garden centre in Boughton Heath, Chester. The scheme will aim to achieve the Fitwel Standard recognition, which scores environmental sustainability, wellbeing, transport connections, safety and landscape criteria. The extra-care development will create more than 140 apartments and will provide a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from heating and other services. In the years since the 2014 Care Act, there has been a growing awareness of the need to consider how a personalised and sustainable approach to someone’s care can be supported – giving people more choice and control over their future and ways to maintain their independence. Independent Living is something we’re passionate about and we’re working with a number of clients across the country to support Council’s deliver high-quality housing for seniors.



Clients are increasingly driving the base standard of inclusivity through their business operations and procurement models. Local authorities and the built environment sector are using their hefty purchasing power to improve equality and diversity. How can you be inspired to change teams, objectives, and missions to be more inclusive? We’ve put together a Black History Month reading list which will help the journey to understanding:

  • BRIT (ish) by Afua Hirsch: You’re British. Your parents are British. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British. So why do people keep asking where you’re from? We are a nation in denial about our imperial past and the racism that plagues our present. Brit(ish) is Afua Hirsch’s personal and provocative exploration of how this came to be – and an urgent call for change.
  • Soft Magic by Upile Chisala: Diana Phiri Witty Regeneration Manager at Croydon Council summarises Upile’s book, “The poetry is warm and safe and inclusive. Reading it makes me feel like I can take up space and I can be unapologetically present. The words are truly magical and I read the words when I feel like I need a top-up of strength and power and an escape from microaggressions.”
  • And finally, a song recommendation and personal favourite of mine: Move on Up by Curtis Mayfield who’s song is captured to poetically here by Satish Jassal of Jassal Architects, “Like many people, I love soulful black music. This composition, even with its political undertones, is full of hope and determination.”



There are days we celebrate because it is what we have always done. It becomes a part of tradition. But, as observances become routine, the intrinsic meaning behind what is celebrated can often be lost. Black History Month is a means of reflecting and recognising the rich history of black people in the UK and celebrating their contributions to the makeup our society. The month is envisioned as a way to challenge the negative imagery and stereotypes that were often depicted in popular culture and in the media. By emphasising stories of black achievement and resilience, this month focuses the nation’s attention on the positive aspects of black life that had been previously invisible.


The Inner Circle studios will be active (and with social distancing measures in place) for a Netflix Watch Party on Thursday 15th October from 6.30pm. For those who are interested in joining in person or virtually or would like to hear more about our Black History Month programme, get in touch with Cheryl Bannerman-Swaniker.


Finally, Saturday was International Mental Health Day and this year’s theme was all about how we can make mental health better for everyone. It has been a heck of a year with all of us having to adjust to a new normal and now more than ever is it crucial that we pay attention to our wellbeing. Do not forget as part of Vitality we have access to therapist and wellbeing experts for those days you just need someone to talk to. From all of us at Inner Circle, remember be kind to others and to yourself!