Charity relief packages must be ring-fenced for BAME VCS groups, campaign group says

A fifth of charity relief packages must be ring-fenced for black and minority ethnic voluntary and community sector groups, the #CharitySoWhite campaign group has said in an open letter published today. 

The letter, which has so far gathered more than 30 signatories, including the Equality Trust, CharityComms, and Race on the Agenda, has called on the charity sector to “put ‘at risk’ communities at the heart of their work”, the day after chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £750m relief package for third sector and voluntary organisations.

“Covid-19 is set to disproportionately impact BAME communities, with devastating impact likely across a wide range of issues,” the letter says.

“BAME VCS groups must be at the heart of decision-making in any relief package to the sector.”

The campaign group has called on people involved in relief package discussions to ensure that any steering groups set up to manage funding include at least two people who “have a significant track record of championing race equality in funding”.

It has also said that 20 per cent of funding should be ring-fenced for BAME VCS groups, which are managed directly by BAME infrastructure organisations.

“BAME VCS groups entered the Covid-19 crisis under-funded and undervalued by the charitable sector, despite being the best placed to reach those our sector tries hard to reach,” the group said.

There are estimated to be between 9,000 and 10,000 BAME charities and community groups operating nationally, according to the letter, 65 per cent of which have an average annual turnover of less than £10,000.

The open letter comes after the publication of a position paper earlier this week in which the group outlined five key principles that it said would enable the sector to place racial equality at the heart of its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

These included acknowledging that tackling racial inequality is central to an effective response to the crisis, focusing on marginalised communities and supporting BAME staff and volunteers.

“Right now, key funders and decision-makers like the National Lottery Community Fund hold the power that ultimately decides who is allowed to exist in a post-Covid-19 world,” the CharitySoWhite committee said in a statement emailed to Third Sector. “Our recent paper Racial Injustice in the Covid-19 Response has outlined how the crisis is having a disproportionate impact on BAME communities and BAME VCS groups, which are on the front line leading our sector's response.

“These organisations urgently need an injection of funds to keep their critical services running. We can see from previous emergency funds, for instance in the sector’s response to Grenfell, that traditional models and processes for distributing funds do not reach the groups and organisations that need them.”

“That is why we need decision-makers to be brave and bold. They must embrace this opportunity to set a new way of working that ensures funds reach the most marginalised communities.”

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