Headlines: February 3rd, 2009

A pressure group has called for black and minority ethnic volunteers to be given more recogntion for the work they do. Voice4Change England has launched a ‘Valuing the BME Third Sector’ campaign to highlight its role in bonding communities and promoting equality.

The national policy organisation fears that the lack of recognition had led to problems getting resources for BME Third Sector bodies. It wants high level political backing to ensure the groups get the investment they need and it is urging MPs to support a Commons Early Day Motion tabled by Alun Michael.

The Director of Voice4Change England, Vandna Gohil, said, “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.”

She said there was evidence that where BME voluntary organisations did get support they were able to benefit service users and the whole community. She pointed to the work of the North London-based Asian People with Disabilities Alliance which has been providing social care support since 1988. It works with service users to help them feel better connected to local decision-making and has recruited people to support other local charities. Other examples included the Apna Haq organisation in Rotherham, a specialist provider of services to Asian women facing violence.

Ms Gohil added, “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.”