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The Story of Dr Paul Stephenson OBE



At Family Fostering Partners we enjoy taking the time to thank and congratulate the amazing foster carers who dedicate their lives to helping achieve the very best outcomes for the children and young people in their care, but the quote below is not dedicated to a foster carer. It is not dedicated to an individual who tirelessly tried to make their community a little better, but instead is dedicated to a slave owner who had a monopoly on the British trade in human beings.


“Erected by citizens of Bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city”


Whilst our blog posts often focus on the need for more people to become foster parents in our communities, today, we feel it only right to take a moment to validate the anger and frustration that so many are feeling from witnessing or experiencing racial injustice, and feeling unable to affect change.


Our foster carers often tell us that remembering the good times helps to overcome more challenging times, and never has this approach been more appropriate for society as a whole. It is our belief that we can build a better society where black lives matter, and therefore, instead of focusing on the Bristolian slave trader, we would like instead to tell the story of another Bristolian, Paul Stephenson.


Guy Bailey OBE, Roy Hackett and Dr Paul Stephenson OBE


Paul Stephenson was a social worker who in 1963 with the help of the West Indian Development Council led the Bristol Bus Boycott. The Boycott lasted four months until the company eventually backed down and overturned is discriminatory ban upon hiring people of colour. The Bristol Bus Boycott occurred nearly a decade after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, however, it is barely known outside of its home city. The actions and campaigning of individuals like Paul Stephenson eventually led to the Race Relations Act 1965 and then a further expansion of the rights within the act in 1968.


We could all do with learning more about people from our own communities. People who, like Paul Stephenson have stood up to be counted, and this is why we wanted to write a blog that reinforces Family Fostering Partners’ commitment to challenge discrimination and prejudice both visible and institutional. We want to live in a world where skin colour does not affect your chances of succeeding in education, in work or in life and this is why we will proudly be celebrating Black History Month in October and telling more inspirational stories about people like Paul Stephenson. It will also be the reason why we continue to search for more people and families from different communities to step forward and foster so that we can ensure that our FFP family reflects the communities in which we work and live.


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