Macmillan invests in BME charity

Macmillan Cancer Relief is funding a two-year post at a fellow cancer care charity to enable it to investigate the specific needs of black and minority ethnic groups (BME).

The development manager's role is being created at Cancer Black Care to provide a source of information and to enhance trust of charities among BME communities.

Isaac Dweben, chief executive of Cancer Black Care, described the move as an encouraging step on the road to better integration between the voluntary sector and BME communities.

"We're sick of charities making token gestures towards black and minority communities, but this kind of commitment from a major cancer charity makes me more optimistic that things can change," he said.

Dweben accused the voluntary sector of following a narrow agenda. "We formed in 1996 because no charity was properly addressing the needs and concerns of black and ethnic groups," he said. "Since then we've tried to act as a catalyst for change within the sector, and the kind of partnership we're developing with Macmillan is the only way to close the gap that remains between minority communities and mainstream voluntary organisations."

One of the charity's main remits is to address the issue of prostate cancer among black males, who have a much slimmer chance of survival than white males.

"When prostate cancer charities received GUS charitable foundation money earlier this year to unite organisations working in this field, we were not approached or asked to get involved," said Dweben.

"This aptly reflects the distinct lack of understanding about the communities who desperately need support over prostate cancer. All cultural groups affected by the disease deserve to be accurately represented."

Although some cancer care charities such as Macmillan are moving closer to developing a better recognition of BME needs, Dweben believes that one way charities can develop better communication is by representing those communities in public relations and marketing campaigns.

"The majority of all charity communications is still focused on the white community," he said.

"Maybe one campaign will talk specifically about disadvantaged ethnic groups, but they don't feature in mainstream fundraising campaigns. More can also be done to show black celebrities and sports stars championing charitable causes to draw more black and ethnic supporters in."

Macmillan claims that funding for the post demonstrates their real commitment to thinking of effective ways of reaching different groups.

"We were really keen to start talking to those groups which trust and support Cancer Black Care," said Stephen Richards, director of Macmillan's London, Anglia and South-East regions.

"This post will hopefully go some way to developing its ongoing work while building an awareness of our charity within different cultural communities."

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