On the first Stephen Lawrence Day, we look at how the trust in his name aims to increase diversity in architecture
On 22 April 2019, the UK will mark the first Stephen Lawrence Day, announced last year on the 25th anniversary of the teenager’s murder in Eltham, London.
The day marks the murder of 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence in a hate crime, which became a landmark case in the UK, particularly for the investigation into the police that found the force to be institutionally racist.
Commemorations are being led by the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust with the day to celebrates his life and legacy and ‘Inspiring young people to make positive change’ through events, fundraising and social media, using the hashtag #BecauseofStephen and #SLDay.
A key aspect of the trust is to help enable ‘young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and underrepresented groups to study and qualify as architects’. Before he was killed, Lawrence had wanted to become an architect and the trust has made a central part of its platform providing both financial support through the costly qualifying process and mentoring and work experience within practices.
To mark the first Stephen Lawrence Day, the RIBA announced an extension of its ongoing partnership with the trust, which will add to the existing Stephen Lawrence Prize and annual memorial lecture. The organisations will extend their ongoing educational outreach and RIBA’s regional offices will help spread the work the trust does further outside London.
On the announcement, the chief executive of the Trust, Sonia Watson, said, ‘The Trust are determined to ensure the places and spaces we inhabit are designed and constructed by us all.
‘We are delighted to continue our journey with the RIBA to broaden the views of even more young people of what’s possible and help them gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.’
The Trust’s Built Environment programme began in 2015 in response to an industry survey that found less than 1% of architects came from BAME backgrounds, though the Trust provided bursaries before 2015, funding 126 people since 1998, with the ultimate aim of growing the diversity of the profession and who creates the built environment.