Nine out of 10 BAME micro and small charities could close within months, report warns

Report from the Ubele Initiative says small BAME charities will not survive if Covid-19 crisis extends into June

Almost 90 per cent of BAME micro and small voluntary and community organisations could face permanent closure within a matter of months if the coronavirus crisis extends into June, a report from the London-based charity the Ubele Initiative has warned.

The report, Impact of Covid-19 on the BAME Community and Voluntary Sector, analyses the results of two sector surveys carried out by the Ubele Initiative at the end of March and early April.

Supported by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, the surveys gathered responses from 182 voluntary and community organisations, of which 137 were BAME-led.

They found that slightly more than two-thirds of micro BAME charities (those with annual incomes of less than £10,000) and small BAME charities (annual incomes of less than £100,000) did not have any reserves, and fewer than one in five (19 per cent) had reserves that would last three months.

Consequently, the report warns, if the coronavirus crisis continues beyond the originally anticipated three months, an estimated 87 per cent of small BAME organisations could conceivably cease to operate.

The report estimates this would leave a projected 15,000 to 20,000 service users a week unable to access services.

Yvonne Field, founder and managing director of the Ubele Initiative, said the organisation had seen “heartfelt stories of community support, innovative and in some cases transformative thinking, heroism and deep love being shown” in individual responses to the surveys.

But she warned that the organisation’s research into the impact of Covid-19 on BAME-led organisations showed “struggling BAME organisations without a lifebuoy to keep them afloat. Those few surviving organisations (many of which have been in existence for up to four decades) have ended up rudderless without a clear steer as survival beckons.”

Debbie Weekes-Bernard, London’s deputy mayor for social integration, social mobility and community engagement, said: “It is increasingly clear from emerging evidence that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are being disproportionately affected by the outbreak of Covid-19.

“Existing inequalities have worsened through this crisis and it’s more important than ever that support is given to BAME community-led organisations.

We are helping to support these groups through the London Community Response fund, but we need the government to provide further support and, after a decade of austerity, acknowledge the need to deal with the structural problems in our society that have led to these inequalities.”

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