Voice4Change to fight refusal of strategic partnership funding

The organisation, which represents BME groups, says it has a duty to ask the government to reconsider

Elizabeth Balgobin, chair of Voice4Change
Elizabeth Balgobin, chair of Voice4Change

Voice4Change England has launched a campaign to be reinstated as a strategic partner after the Office for Civil Society decided not to award funding from the strategic partnership programme to any equality groups.

Four equality groups, including Voice4Change, which represents black and minority ethnic third sector organisations, and the Women's Resource Centre, received a total of almost £1m from the programme in 2010/11.

But none were among the organisations that will receive a share of £8.2m from the programme over the next three years.

Voice4Change is asking the government to reinstate it as a strategic partner, use any unspent money from the strategic partners programme to support equality organisations and directly engage equality-led organisations in policy development and programme delivery.

The campaign will include a petition on the Voice4Change website and an early day motion to be tabled by Virendra Sharma, the Labour MP for Ealing Southall. A spokeswoman for Voice4Change said details of the motion were still being decided.

Elizabeth Balgobin, chair of Voice4Change, said the organisation had a duty to its beneficiaries to fight the strategic partners decision.

"The generic voluntary and community sector makes a huge contribution, but it is not their role to promote inclusion and tackle race inequality," she said.

"In light of the decision regarding Voice4Change, we ask the government whether they are genuinely committed to building a big, inclusive society. It should reconsider this decision, which closes the door to the BME voice at the top levels of decision-making."

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