'Disturbing picture of racially divided sector'

Black and minority ethnic charities and white-led organisations are failing to communicate to a "scandalous" extent, according to a report.

Published by community sector umbrella body Bassac and the Black Training and Enterprise Group, the document paints a disturbing picture of a "divisive" voluntary sector.

"We expected to find it difficult for black and white-led organisations to collaborate, but the reality on the ground was far worse," said Jeremy Crook, director of BTEG.

Beyond Equality: Multi-Ethnic Partnerships for Community Change urges policy makers and funders to adopt new approaches to multi-ethnic partnerships.

The research, which is the result of two years of joint working between the two organisations and six London boroughs, found that BME and white-led organisations located minutes apart, working on similar issues, were totally unaware of each other's existence. "Such separate development is a scandal," states the pamphlet.

Crook said that divisions seemed to arise from the fact that many white-led organisations had a longer history of working with funders and policy makers, whereas BME organisations were still developing.

Policy makers from local government attended the report's launch, which was addressed by Helen Edwards, director general of the Home Office Communities Group, Kamalijeet Jandu, a commissioner from the Commission for Racial Equality, and Clare Thomas, chief executive of Bridge House Trust.

"For many white-led organisations, it means asking hard questions about opening up the access they have to policy makers to their BME colleagues," said Bassac chief executive Ben Hughes. "What is needed by each part of the community sector is fundamentally different."

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