Voice4Change hosts equalities conference for strategic partners

Chief executives body Acevo cannot attend and minister has prior engagement

Many of the voluntary sector’s main umbrella bodies will attend a two-day conference in Oxfordshire next month to discuss how they intend to use Office for Civil Society funding to address inequalities.

Voice4Change England, a policy group for black and minority ethnic charities, decided to organise the event after a number of equalities charities lost OCS funding this year.

Several, including Voice4Change, the Women’s Resource Centre and the Consortium of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered Voluntary and Community Organisations, had received up to £276,000 a year to promote equality and advise the government.

But no organisations with specific equality remits were chosen when the OCS announced its new £8.2m Strategic Partners Transition Programme.

An OCS spokesman said at the time that the successful applicants would "represent diverse communities".

Elizabeth Balgobin, chair of Voice4Change, said the event, called Mainstreaming Equalities: Rhetoric or Reality?, would give the partners a first opportunity to say how they intended to do this.

She hoped they would "reaffirm and reinvigorate their commitment to actively promoting race and other equality issues" by "agreeing a framework of cooperation between the nine partners and Voice4Change".

Eight partners have agreed to attend. They are: the Association of Charitable Foundations, the Institute of Fundraising, Locality, Navca, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Social Entrepreneurship Partnership, Social Enterprise UK and Volunteering England. Some partners belong to consortia that include other charities.

Chief executives body Acevo declined to attend. Peter Kyle, deputy chief executive, said this was due to "scheduling difficulties" and it would "assess the outcomes".

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, will not be present. An OCS spokesman said he had an existing diary commitment.

Shadow civil society minister Gareth Thomas will attend, along with five speakers, including the lawyer Imran Khan, whose firm, Imran Khan & Partners, represents the family of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in 1993.

The event, which is being sponsored by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, will be held at St George's House, Windsor, on 8 and 9 December.

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