Rishi Sunak launches Diversity Built Britain series of coins

Rishi Sunak launches Diversity Built Britain series of coins

A new 50-pence coin with the message “Diversity Built Britain” went into circulation this week to celebrate Britain’s diverse history and recognise the “profound contribution” communities such as Indians have made to the shared history of the country.

Around 2.5 million of the new coins, featuring a geodome, mark the start of a new series backed by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Sunak, born in the UK to parents from India, said: “I have seen first-hand the contribution made by ethnic minority communities to Britain’s history. That is why I backed the ‘We Too Built Britain’ campaign and requested that the Royal Mint introduced this coin to celebrate it.

“This coin, and the rest of the series, will act as a fitting tribute to the very profound impact ethnic minority communities have made on Britain, and I am grateful to the Royal Mint for turning this around at record speed.”

We Too Built Britain

Sunak had commissioned the coin earlier this year following discussions with the We Too Built Britain campaign, which works for fair representation of minority communities’ contributions across all walks of life.

Zehra Zaidi, who leads the campaign, said: “Ethnic minority people, as well as all under-represented groups, need to see themselves represented in British institutions.

“They need to see their contributions to Britain recognised. It is a part of an invisible social contract and it can build cohesion, promote a sense of belonging, inspire young people and unite us as a nation, showing that we all have an equal stake in society.

“We are a diverse, modern and global Britain – let’s show that. This coin helps bridge our nation’s past, its diverse present and its future, looking outward, positively, together.”

Besides the campaign group, the UK Treasury said the government will consult with other stakeholders and groups representing minority communities on the themes of future coins in this series. The We Too Built Britain campaign is keen for the former Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent Noor Inayat Khan, a descendant of the Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan, or Mary Seacole, a British Jamaican Crimean War heroine, to be recognised on coinage as the next in the diversity series. The British Indian spy had recently become the first woman of Indian heritage to be honoured with a Blue Plaque at her former London residence.

Connection and strength

The geodome of the new 50p coin represents a community of connection and strength, with each section working together to build something greater. The design has been inspired by Royal Mint designer Dominique Evans’ own personal experience growing up as a mixed-race woman.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Her design is the first in a series of coins the Mint will be producing, celebrating those who have helped shape our national history and culture.

“This new coin echoes the government’s commitment to building a fairer society for all.”

Evans, is one of the UK’s foremost designers who has previously designed coins celebrating World War II Victory in Europe (VE) Day and classic English novelist Jane Austen.

She said: “When designing this coin, I began by thinking about the people who inspire me and what diversity has meant in my life. I believe that no matter where you are born, we all belong under the same sky and this was the starting point of the design.

“The background of the coin features a geodome with a series of interconnecting lines and triangles that form a network. Each part is equal, and symbolises a community of connection and strength. The words ‘Diversity Built Britain’ talks about the differences between us, and the connection which gives us unity. The design also looks to the future, and the bonds which will continue to grow and make us stronger together.”

Signal of change

Alongside the release of the coins, the Royal Mint will also issue education packs to primary schools in England and Wales to enable children to learn about the achievements of Britain’s minority communities.

Anne Jessopp, CEO of the Royal Mint, said: “This is one of the most significant coins produced by the Royal Mint, and signals a change in our nation’s coinage.

“For over 1,000 years the nation’s story has been told on coins struck by the Royal Mint, but often the contribution of ethnic minority communities has been unrecognised – this marks the beginning of a new chapter with more coins to follow.”

Jessopp said that in addition to creating the “pivotal 50p”, the Mint will launch a new diversity hub on its website where people can share their stories, and access free educational resources.

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