It has been horrifying to watch the news surrounding the death of George Floyd in the USA and the outpouring of grief and anger for continuing racial injustice. Demonstrations in the UK have shone the spotlight on issues of racial inequality in our society.
What the evidence tells us
BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities continue to experience unfair disadvantage in access to public services; access to the jobs market; disproportionate school exclusions, police stop and search, incarceration and mental health detention. We know that COVID-19 is having a disproportionate effect on the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Community (BAME) and that as the pandemic eases, the inequalities are likely to widen.
We also know that there are fewer BAME charities and community groups and that those that exist are underfunded in comparison with others.
It is time for us as an organisation and as individuals to ask ourselves – what can we do about this and how can we be part of the change we want to see?
WCAVA has been thinking about some of the ways in which we can take positive action as an organisation:
Recruitment: As an organisation, we are incredibly blessed to have good diversity on our Trustee Board. We recognise that our wider organisation is lacking in diversity amongst our staff and volunteer team and that we need to be more representative of the communities we serve. We need to to think about how we can promote workforce vacancies more widely to attract people from a range of backgrounds.
Funding Support: Evidence over many years has shown that black and minority organisations are less likely to be successful in accessing funding. As the majority of BAME organisations are small, they may have difficulty in engaging with information sessions on funding streams and more limited capacity in constructing funding applications. There is a need for us to proactively respond to the lack of capacity of those small groups by reviewing how we make our services more accessible.
We need to continue to highlight the needs of those groups and influence funders to prioritise under- represented groups and support the communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19. The National Lottery Fund is currently conducting research on the impact of COVID-19 on BAME Community and Voluntary organisations through its Ubele initiative.
Volunteering: NCVO’s (National Council for Voluntary Service) research on volunteering showed how the people most likely to volunteer are middle aged, well-educated and with well paid jobs. However, participation rates in informal volunteering, are more diverse - suggesting that more formal activities present more barriers to getting involved.
During the pandemic there has been an upsurge in community volunteering and neighbourliness to support vulnerable individuals, which has inspired us to support and foster informal volunteering in a way that we have not done before.
Each year we celebrate the incredible achievements that volunteers make to their local communities and we will make sure that at our next Awards ceremonies, we also celebrate informal volunteering and ensure the Awards are promoted well to include volunteers from diverse communities and faith groups.
Challenging discrimination: We know that hate crime is a reality in Solihull and Warwickshire. EQUIP – (the charity working across Warwickshire to eliminate discrimination in all its forms) produced a report on hate crime in Warwickshire and found that there was a need for more public knowledge of hate crime laws and processes for hate crime reporting. We will ensure that over the following months, we will promote information on how to report hate crime and publicise ‘Hate Crime’ training. Our staff and volunteers will be encouraged to undertake this too.
Working together: We believe that we can be more effective in meeting community needs by working in partnership. We welcome partnerships whether they be around funding bids or inclusive volunteering which help to challenge discrimination and promote inclusion. Let’s work together to learn about what works to make equality and diversity a reality.
We would welcome comments and suggestions as to how WCAVA can work with you to address discrimination and inequalities on our communities – do contact us via your local WCAVA team or email Kate Morrison, Chief Executive.
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