Big UNFAIR Society: Who will stand up for disadvantaged BME communities?

Big UNFAIR Society: Who will stand up for disadvantaged BME communities?

24 March 2011

Virendra Sharma MP speaks at V4CE House of Commons Event 2011Speaking at their House of Commons event yesterday, Voice4Change England (V4CE) said they would fight the Government decision to withdraw their status and funding as a Strategic Partner. On the same day as the budget was announced, V4CE addressed MPs, funders and members of the voluntary and community sector (VCS) and revealed plans for a campaign against a ‘Big UNFAIR Society’. The campaign will ask Government “who will stand up for disadvantaged BME communities?”

On Tuesday the Office for Civil Society (OCS) announced that in the competition for the Strategic Partners Transition Fund Programme, not one equalities organisations had made the cut. V4CE, a former Strategic Partner made it to the shortlist but was rejected at the final stage of the process.

V4CE are asking Government to:

1. Reinstate V4CE as a strategic partner.

2. Use the underspend from the Strategic Partners Transition Programme to support equality led organisations.

3. Directly engage equality led organisations in policy development and programme delivery.

The V4CE House of Commons event was attended by frontline BME organisations who expressed their dismay at the uncertain future V4CE now face. With the full support of their host, Virendra Sharma MP, V4CE outlined a campaign that will include an Early Day Motion and an online petition on the V4CE website.

Wondwossen Eshetu from frontline health organisation NAZ Project London spoke to attendees about NAZ’s struggle for survival against a backdrop of funding cuts. He explained that without V4CE, they would lose representation at the national level and the chance to campaign for longer term positive changes.

Elizabeth Balgobin, Chair of V4CE says: “We have a duty to our beneficiaries to fight this decision in every way possible. The generic VCS make a huge contribution but it is not their role to promote inclusion and tackle race inequality. Disadvantaged BME organisations and communities need support and representation now more than ever.

The Government will not save money by cutting social justice organisations like V4CE.

Now the BME and wider equalities sector must come together to fight this decision by signing our online petition. To all the generic organisations we have helped reach and engage BME communities, we ask for your support in our campaign.

To Government, we ask that V4CE and the BME VCS is recognised and resourced for the vital services we provide to society. In light of the decision regarding V4CE, we ask the Government whether they are genuinely committed to building a Big Inclusive Society. Government should reconsider this decision that closes the door to the BME voice at the top levels of decision making.”

MP Virendra Sharma says: “I am deeply saddened by this decision. Voice4Change England is the only organisation who provides the BME VCS with the support and guidance they need to gain resources and get their voice heard at a national level. It is the disadvantaged communities on the ground who will suffer the most because of this move as the vital services they rely on lose national representation. As someone who has worked in the voluntary sector for over 20 years, I understand only too well what impact this decision will have.”

The V4CE House of Commons event was also attended by Alun Michel MP, Baroness Pitkeathley, the Race Equality Foundation, Mission Dine Club, NCVO, the Network of Black Professional, the Third Sector Research Group, BTEG, MENTER and Community Matters amongst others.

Ends

 

Notes to editors

About Voice4Change England

Voice4Change England (V4CE) is a national support organisation for the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. Since 2007 we have operated as a strategic partner of the Office for Civil Society. We are a leading voice in public policy and inform and influence practice that has a direct affect on the development, delivery and impact of BME voluntary and community organisations (VCOs). We support the sector to build its capacity and secure resources to meet the needs of vulnerable and excluded communities.

Our mission at V4CE is to ensure public policy meets the needs of BME communities by valuing and supporting BME VCOs to challenge inequality and strengthen civil society.

Virendra Sharma MP

Virendra Sharma is the Labour MP for Ealing Southall

For more information please contact Vandna Gohil, Director on 0207 843 6131