The difficulties that exist for small charities, such as the JAN Trust, that work with BAME women continue to prevail, and in recent years these issues have been dramatically magnified. Small charities have been continuously affected by funding difficulties, especially those working in so-called "unpopular" cause areas.
There is a constant battle to source and maintain funding to support your causes, and great uncertainty exists around the sustainability of projects. Addressing issues such as integration, social exclusion and violence against women and girls requires a consistent approach, but that tends to be resource-heavy. The continuous funding battle takes valuable time away from the core work, as well as damaging the ability to successfully strategically plan.
Added to this is the fact that the beneficiaries small charities work with don’t tend to face a single issue but a number of interconnected ones, and a range of hardships and societal prejudice. This requires a holistic approach in a safe space, which requires reliable funding.
Small charities working with BAME women have also been hit by unjust cuts under the government’s reckless austerity measures of the past eight years. Austerity has hit grass-roots organisations working at the heart of our communities particularly hard and there is growing body of evidence to show that women – particularly BAME women – are the ones who have suffered most.
Organisations that empower and educate BAME women from marginalised communities have seen demand for their services increase. This has also come at a time of increased hostility towards certain faiths and an open rhetoric of hate, which creates a society in which those who participate in such abhorrent and unjustifiable behaviour go unchallenged and the victims are not granted the support they need because trusted grass-roots organisations simply do not have the resources to deal with the unprecedented rise in racial and religiously aggravated hate crimes.
Cuts to budgets for courses in English for speakers of other languages have also had an impact on small grass-roots organisations. Since 2010, there has been a 60 per cent reduction in real terms of funding for ESOL provision, causing many learners to lose out on the opportunity to learn English. This, of course, has a vastly detrimental impact on those already living on the fringes of society.
Here also lies a problem in the procurement process: it simply does not allow grass-roots organisations access to the somewhat limited funds that remain, therefore excluding organisations that provide a vital stepping stone for many women into further education, employment and social inclusion.
What remains, however, are those charities that, despite the challenges, continue to support and provide services for the people who need them the most. We now must focus on what can be done to support further those who support the most vulnerable in society. If we fail to recognise the importance of small charities the impact will be huge and long-lasting.
Sajda Mughal is chief executive of the JAN Trust, which supports marginalised and isolated BAME women and young people