Government fund may entrench existing inequality, say national advocates

Voice4Change England

News release from Voice4Change England
7th February 2012

For immediate release

Government fund may entrench existing inequality, say national advocates

The Transforming Local Infrastructure (TLI) programme was dubbed as the fund that would modernise the landscape of local infrastructure for the voluntary and community sector (VCS). Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said the £30m fund, shared between 72 partners was all about “making things better for the front line”.

But national advocates for the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) VCS have warned that the programme may entrench existing inequalities in support services to the frontline. Voice4Change England, who are conducting research into equality and the Big Society, are concerned that the needs of disadvantaged communities are being neglected as some BME infrastructure organisations were left out from VCS partnerships during the bidding process. Additionally in areas where bids were unsuccessful, such as Bristol and Barking and Dagenham, there is a high BME population, leaving equalities organisations asking how BME frontline will be supported and represented in these areas.

The programme was designed to encourage collaborations and mergers in an environment of increasing funding scarcity.  Successful bids would have to demonstrate how support for equalities would be met.

Traditionally, the frontline BME sector, made up of mostly small, local organisations, has been marginalised by mainstream infrastructure services who have failed to reach them and understand their needs. Specialist frontline and infrastructure providers have struggled to be included and recognised as equal partners in collaborations with mainstream organisations.

Vandna Gohil, Director of Voice4Change England says:
“We strongly believe that BME and generic support organisations need to work better together, but this should be an organic process to better meet users’ needs and not driven by top down funding requirements.

The evidence is clear; when BME infrastructure is excluded from the planning and delivery of specialist services, BME communities are left behind.

It is crucial that successful partnerships now deliver on the commitments they made to equality in their bids. We call on the Office for Civil Society and the BIG Lottery Fund to put mechanisms in place to make sure this happens.

Voice4Change England will monitor progress and check back with our members to find out if services are accessible and relevant to the diversity of the sector.” 

Download the full list of successful organisations



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