Race commission hits out at sector's record

The Commission for Racial Equality has accused mainstream charities of marginalising race issues and failing to recognise the needs of ethinic minorities.

Dharmendra Kanani, the commission's director of countries, regions and communities, said that racial equality and integration should form part of voluntary-sector policy but often only community groups and charities working specifically on race-related issues address it.

Kanani said: "As the gap between the voluntary and public sector closes, the role of charities in championing the social issues of periphery groups becomes even more relevant.

"Many mainstream charities who deal with non-related issues often don't think this issue is relevant and this attitude has to change."

Kanani added the commission wants to work more closely with larger charities to make improvements. He said: "The sector needs to fundamentally address race equality issues in a more energetic and committed way.

"The commission wants to step up its work with the larger charities and start working directly on how they can creatively address race issues both internally and with external public and community programmes."

Kanani described the voluntary sector as absolutely pivotal in the field of race relations.

The commission is developing a series of guides and toolkits to help charities understand the importance of diversity issues. It is also encouraging charities to approach them for advice on how to become more attuned to the needs of ethnic minority groups.

"We want to play a key role in helping charities recognise that this is an issue of fundamental importance," said Kanani. "It's about making sure that ethnic issues are impacting on the shaping of core policy and how organisations are ethnically monitoring and making sure that different communities are accurately represented."

The commission is also modernising its funding structure to allow charities to benefit from its annual distribution of £5 million of government money that is poured into funding local projects which work on building better links with ethnic minority groups.

The commission part funds the UK's network of Race Equality Councils, but will start working with other kinds of organisations, including charities.

As part of its modernisation programme, a new code of conduct and a new Compact to improve its working relationship with the groups it funds will be established.

The commission will also start building its work around a social investment model that focuses on results-based projects.

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