UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Saturday unveiled a new 50-pence Diversity Coin to celebrate Britain's diverse history and recognise the profound contribution minority communities have made to the shared history of the country. Around 2.5 million of the new coins, with the message Diversity Built Britain and featuring a geodome, will enter general circulation from Monday.
The new 50p follows a campaign led by the 'We Too Built Britain' group and marks the start of a series which will cover a wider range of Britain's ethnic minority contributions on coins and notes in the future, with British Indian spy Noor Inayat Khan among those in the running. "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, said Sunak.
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, he said. The geodome of the coin is said to represent 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. 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, said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
This new coin echoes the government's commitment to building a fairer society for all, he said. 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.
Ethnic minority people, as well as all under-represented groups, need to see themselves represented in British institutions, said Zehra Zaidi, who leads the campaign. 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, she said.
This coin helps bridge our nation's past, its diverse present and its future, looking outward, positively, together, she added. The UK Treasury said the government will consult with stakeholders, including 'We Too Built Britain' and other 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, reflective of ethnic minority female contributions of British history, as the next in the diversity series after the new 50p coin. The coin's designer, Dominique 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.
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, said Evans. 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, she said.
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. This is one of the most significant coins produced by the Royal Mint, and signals a change in our nation's coinage, said Anne Jessopp, CEO of the Royal Mint.
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, she said. Jessopp said that in addition to creating the pivotal 50p, the Mint has launched a new diversity hub on our website where people can share their stories, and access free educational resources.
Working in partnership with the West India Committee we have created education packs which will be issued to every primary school in England and Wales, and are available for anyone to download. The first of these packs explores the contribution of Black Britons, and has been launched to coincide with Black History Month, she said. In an unrelated commemorative category of coins, Mahatma Gandhi is among the worldwide figures under consideration for a possible special coin in the future.