National Lottery Community Fund announces £1.4m investment in new BAME-led fund

The Pheonix Fund will form part of a wider response the long-standing inequalities exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic

The National Lottery Community Fund has today announced a 1.4m investment that will aim to support black, Asian and ethnic minority-led infrastructure and leadership practice across the sector.

The funder has partnered with Global Fund for Children to assist with the co-creation and delivery of the Phoenix Fund, a BAME-led fund that will support communities and BAME leadership practice in England. 

The fund will form part of a wider response to help address long-standing inequalities present within both the charity sector and wider society, which have been exposed by the coronavirus crisis, the NLCF said in a statement. 

In the announcement, the funder added that the partnership followed a recognition that more needs to be done to support BAME-led infrastructure in the sector, nurturing and develop new leaders, and enhancing the reach and practice of BAME-led organisations.

The Phoenix Fund will be co-designed and developed by a group of BAME-led organisations who will majority of the funding panel and play an “active and informative role in the decision-making process”, the NLCF said. 

Young people from the NLCF’s advisory group will also be involved in an effort to “help lay strong foundations for future BAME leadership in the sector”. 

Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the NLCF, said the fund was "an important step on our journey" to being a fully inclusive funder, adding: "We are excited by the opportunity it gives us to learn from and work with black and ethnic minority-led organisations.”

During the coronavirus pandemic funders and employers have faced pressure to review their practices through an equality, diversity and inclusion lens, with CharitySoWhite criticising a lack of commitment on the part of funders to reach disadvantaged communities, and three BAME sector leaders resigning from an equity working group set up by the National Emergencies Trust over a “lack of urgency and expertise”. 

Commenting on the announcement, John Hecklinger, president and chief executive of Global Fund for Children, said: “We recognise that systemic racism and prejudice impact children and families from BAME communities on a daily basis. We believe that local organisations – with people from the community in the lead – are best positioned to drive social change.”

The Phoenix Fund is expected to open within weeks to provide emergency funding to support small and micro organisations in communities most affected by Covid-19. 

More details on who and how to apply will be made available at launch.

A convening partner of the Phoenix Fund, Yvonne Field, chief executive and founder of the Ubele Initiative, said: “Our communities have been severely impacted by Covid-19 and there is an urgent need to get funds to frontline organisations. I am pleased that we are using a participatory approach as we are often excluded from grant making and are unable to influence the design and/or decision-making processes. 

“We need to begin to shift these deep-rooted power dynamics and by distilling the learning, we will begin to create systems change [in the] longer term.”


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