Sajda Mughal: Urgent action is needed as Covid-19 continues to have a disproportionate impact on BAME charities

As we begin to see the implications of a second wave on BAME communities across the country, the sector must show true, actionable solidarity with BAME-led organisations

The Covid-19 pandemic, and its far-reaching social and economic impact, is threatening the viability of many grassroots organisations that work on the front line of this crisis and support those most in need.

Covid-19 has devastated, and continues to devastate, the income of many small, grassroots charities that have already found themselves in the vacuum of a funding crisis. 

In April, I advocated, along with others, for the need to ring-fence funds to support those most at risk of Covid-19 and its impacts. I argued that this would provide the sector with an opportunity to redress racial imbalance, and protect those on the ground delivering lifelines during this crisis. 

Despite this, there remains a dearth in funding for these very organisations. Day by day, it becomes increasingly apparent that more needs to be done to ensure the short- and long-term viability of organisations that desperately need to be meaningfully and effectively funded, in order to support those most at risk.

Small, grassroots BAME organisations like Jan Trust, which I lead, have had limited access to resources and funding streams for a long time. The consequences of that have been deeply apparent during this crisis. 

Many have already been forced to close their doors, and more find themselves relentlessly on the brink of closure. If this happens, it will leave many communities without the essential and trusted specialist support and infrastructure they need.

Since the killing of George Floyd, and the subsequent wave of protests across the world, conversations have begun to open up about systemic racial injustice, both globally and here in the UK. 

The charity sector is no stranger to these injustices and, as a result of these conversations, some funders have begun to open up opportunities to support BAME organisations. 

However, what I fear is happening is not a long-term solution to an entrenched funding crisis, but knee-jerk relief efforts for those whose painstaking efforts have too long gone unnoticed.

Redressing racial inequality in society and across the charity sector, to support those who are consistently hurt as a result of a lack of funding or care, requires sustained and meaningful change. 

It requires considered efforts to work with organisations that best reach those most impacted by the crisis, and who will continue to do so. 

It requires a belief in those who do this work: to put our trust in those who have proved time and again that they will not give up on these communities, as many others have, and to place trust in those who have relationships with these communities. 

This is the only way we can support those most in need and ensure that small, grassroots BAME charities are not forced to close their doors to people who require essential and trusted support.

The spoken solidarity that is all too often seen, but rarely actioned, will not suffice. We must see concrete action: for small, grassroots organisations this comes in the form of sustainable funding avenues. 

Funders must put BAME communities at the heart of their response, not only in times of crisis but also moving forward. They must support BAME-led organisations to address issues faced by these communities, and enable them to maximise their impact.

The coming six months, for many BAME organisations, will prove to be incredibly testing times. Through true solidarity from the sector, it is possible to offer support.  

Sajda Mughal is chief executive of the Jan Trust

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