Exclusive: National Diversity Awards drop controversial supporter following MM probe

By Sophia Rahman

A national awards scheme promoting diversity and social cohesion have withdrawn a controversial prison company’s support following Mancunian Matters’ probe earlier this month.

The National Diversity Awards (NDA) are no longer being supported by GEO Group UK and are ‘thrilled’ to be holding their 2012 ceremony at Manchester’s Midland Hotel this September.

Events coordinator, Emma Houghton, said: “Due to the sensitive nature of The GEO Group’s work we decided to withdraw their support for the awards.”

However, she went on to say that: “We will continue to work with the organisation on employment issues with regards to diversity and equal opportunities.”

Before GEO UK had their logo removed from the NDA website, they were listed as a sponsor on certain parts of the site and elsewhere referred to as a ‘supporter’.

The NDA were unable to clarify the difference between the terms.

The NDA is the first national diversity awards ceremony to be held in the UK and is dedicated to celebrating the achievements of communities that work to improve inequality and injustice.

With regards to hosting the awards in Manchester, Ms Houghton said: “Manchester has a brilliant mix of communities, we are thrilled to bring the awards to a place where diversity is one of its greatest assets and strengths.

“The diverse population is continuing to grow and we believe the National Diversity Awards will enhance the cities [sic] feeling of social inclusion and pride of place.”

Judging this year’s nominees will be: Paul Sesay, CEO of the Diversity Group, Dr Rob Berkeley, director of Runnymede, the UK’s leading race equality think tank; Denise Keating, CEO of the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion, (ENEI) representing age in employment; Mark Shrimpton, Deputy CEO of Radar a disability rights charity; Penny Newman, CEO of Platform 51, a national charity for vulnerable women across England Wales, and; Jane Czyzselska, the editor of DIVA magazine for lesbian women.

Former Big Brother winner Brian Dowling will be hosting the ceremony. He said: “I feel honoured to be representing an awards ceremony that is recognising diversity at so many levels.”

The NDA aims are to promote equality and diversity; to create role-models from all sections of society; to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religion or age; to celebrate the achievements of people, community/charity organisations and companies that strive for a more inclusive society, and; to highlight how diverse communities have contributed to the economy of the United Kingdom.

Ms Houghton went on to say: “The diversity of Manchester keeps the city endlessly lively and exciting – which is why we have decided to hold the 2012 ceremony in such a place.”

MM will be following the National Diversity Awards as they come to Manchester, so be sure to check back for more updates.

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook. 

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