Why is it called the Blair Peach Award?

The award is named after the past president of East London NUT who was murdered during an anti-racist demonstration in Southall, London on 23 April 1979.  It was first awarded in 2010.

On the day of his death, Blair Peach was showing solidarity and marching against the presence of the far right National Front. Modern day equivalents to the National Front continue to promote racist and fascist views.  That is why the NEU supports the work of organisations such as HOPE not hate, Unite Against Fascism, Show Racism the Red Card, Kick It Out and the Hamilton Commission.

Blair Peach Award Winners 2022

Katie Spencer-Matthews and Robin Tear

Katie and Robin were jointly given the Blair Peach award this year for their work on welcoming refugees and refugee inclusion. They are based in different areas of the UK but their work in this important field reflects the breadth of amazing equality work that NEU members undertake in addition to their everyday jobs.

Katie Spencer-Matthews

Katie has been the coordinator for West Yorkshire Care 4 Calais group since Nov 2020. She works tirelessly organising networks of volunteers across Home Office hotels and dispersal accommodation across West Yorkshire. Katie successfully challenged the poor food provided by the private company who have the Home Office contract to run hotels in which families and individuals seeking asylum are placed. In addition to this, Katie has also managed to get a number of asylum seeking children into schools across Leeds and older refugees/asylum seekers into college.

She has spoken about the work of Care 4 Calais and the plight of refugees and asylum seekers in other union branch meetings as well as meeting with NEU members.

With the use of WhatsApp and FB she connects groups of refugees with groups of volunteers. Making sure that needs, whether those needs are shoes, English lessons or legal assistance, are met. She has converted her garage into a small distribution warehouse.

Katie is also a full-time Drama teacher at Allerton Grange in Leeds.

Robin Tear

Robin was active in the Young Teachers' and Educators' networks as a teacher in Lambeth and became the lead rep for his academy chain. He led two successful strike campaigns over workload in his school.

In addition to his workplace and chain organising, he was the international Solidarity Officer (ISO) for his branch/district and is now the London lead ISO rep.

Robin joined delegations to Palestine and other international union trips. He has visited Calais with the Care 4 Calais group on many occasions and organised big groups of young educators taking donations to Calais for refugees. He has maintained a network of members interested in international work and had 40 volunteers for a trip to Calais in January which unfortunately was postponed due to Covid.

During his time working in Lambeth NEU District and now in Hillingdon Robin continues to make equalities and justice his key priority. He teaches politics and citizenship where he brings his enthusiasm for these subjects to the students he teaches.