Minority ethnic groups need help to retain important buildings, report concludes

Produced by Locality and the Ubele Initiative, the study says more than half of the groups surveyed felt the future of their community buildings was insecure

The report
The report

Black, Asian and minority ethnic community groups need more support to help them retain buildings that are of importance to communities, according to a new report.

The report, called A Place to Call Home, has been produced by the community group membership body Locality and the Ubele Initiative, a not-for-profit organisation that supports the African diaspora community – descendants of people originally from Africa.  

It says that more than half (54 per cent) of the 150 organisations in England surveyed for the report said the future of their community buildings was "insecure".

The report says that disturbances from the 1980s onwards in urban areas such as Brixton, Toxteth, Bristol, Handsworth and Tottenham led to the emergence of new community organisations and spaces being leased to African diaspora community groups for up to 30 years.

But over the past five to 10 years many of these groups have been left without their community assets because the leasing arrangements have not been renewed. As a result, African diaspora communities across England are struggling to retain places to "meet, support, work, learn, celebrate and mourn", the report says.

It recommends that the government should ensure Bame organisations are given the skills to bid to take over land or buildings for community use.

Ubele and Locality said they planned to work with central and local government to ensure that Bame communities were helped to use their rights under the Localism Act, as well as other measures, to take over the ownership or management of important community assets in their areas.

Tony Armstrong, chief executive of Locality, said in a statement: "This report highlights some inspirational stories of leaders and the determination of African diaspora groups to establish and retain important meeting places for their communities.

"But it also underlines the uncertain future of community buildings primarily used by Bame groups and stresses the struggles and losses that many have faced in recent years.

"The government needs to act to ensure that Bame groups are supported take on and retain the important community assets that mean they can make a difference to the people in their neighbourhoods."

Yvonne Field, chief executive of Ubele, said: "A Place Called Home unearthed unexpected stories of many Bame women’s unheralded leadership accomplishments, but also suggests that African diaspora communities need to embrace change in our enterprise-based contemporary culture by upskilling younger people to become future leaders.

"There is an urgent need for a more joined-up or holistic strategy to help save and restore iconic community centres and buildings. We need to bring together key national, regional and local stakeholders with Bame communities that have assets in need of development."

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