Valuing the BME Third Sector campaign is launched by national BME voice organisation
National policy organisation Voice4Change England has launched a Valuing the BME Third Sector campaign to seek greater recognition of the positive contribution being made by the Black and Minority Ethnic Third Sector in bonding communities and promoting equality.
According to Voice4Change England Director Vandna Gohil: “Despite doing a fantastic job in delivering services that meet the needs of often marginalised communities and building community cohesion, the work of the BME Third Sector is not getting the recognition it deserves. The problem is that this lack of visibility and understanding disadvantages BME Third Sector organisations when it comes to securing funds. The result is a continuation of the historic under-resourcing that has limited the Sector’s ability to do more in reducing inequalities.’
Yet, when BME Third Sector organisations are supported then their activities benefit both service users and the whole community. This is evidenced by the work of the north London based Asian People with Disabilities Alliance that was set up in 1988 by the Asian community to provide social care support to disabled people including those with learning difficulties. It works with service users to empower them to feel connected to local decision-making processes and through its Volunteers’ Service has recruited people to support other local charities as well as APDA.
Similarly the Apna Haq organisation in Rotherham shows how a specialist provider of services to Asian women facing issues of violence in their lives can better address cultural issues in meeting the needs of BME communities. The service gives clients the confidence that they have the right to live a life free of fear and violence. It shares good practice with other domestic violence agencies and acts as a bridge for clients to be successfully integrated into mainstream services. Rotherham Council has acknowledged that if Apna Haq didn’t exist then they would be failing in their duty to help local people address significant language and cultural issues.
In support of Voice4Change England’s campaign the Early Day Motion 620 Voice4Change has been tabled in the House of Commons by Alun Michael MP as the organisation looks to increase political support for its role in strengthening the BME Third Sector as a positive force for change.
Mr Michael said; “I know from my own constituency how important the work of BME organisations is to the local community. Recently we had a visit from the Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker specifically to meet such organisations, and it is good to see young members of the community showing real leadership and imagination which bodes well for the future.”
Vandna Gohil further commented: “The Government looks to and often relies upon BME Third Sector organisations to engage with hard-to-reach sections of the community in delivering many of its policy programmes. Unfortunately this reliance on the Sector hasn’t translated into increased funding. Therefore, Voice4Change England is asking MPs to champion the BME Third Sector to help it secure adequate and equitable resources to deliver better outcomes for diverse communities. Without this high-level political backing the Sector may never get the investment required.”
For V4CE a key element of the campaign is to facilitate MPs learning about the vital work being done by BME Third Sector organisations within their constituency.
Vandna Gohil added, “The EDM isn’t solely intended to increase the profile of the BME Third Sector within Parliament. We also want MPs to engage with the BME Third Sector within their constituencies and support the work being done. Therefore, we are urging frontline services to both contact their MP to ask them to back the EDM and to invite them to visit to meet staff and beneficiaries of the service.”