UKCF Statement on Coronavirus Funds and BAME Communities

We recognise and acknowledge that BAME communities are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and we as funders are striving to do more to address inequalities and ensure fairness of distribution

We recognise and acknowledge that BAME communities are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and we as funders are striving to do more to address inequalities and ensure fairness of distribution. We understand that we have power to improve our response, help strengthen BAME voluntary sector infrastructure and challenge some of the sector-wide systemic issues that act as a barrier to funding. Through listening and collaborating with organisations such as Equally Ours, Muslim Charities Forum, Small Charities Coalition and Voice4Change, we are committed to working in partnership to affect long-term and long-lasting systemic change.

In response to the coronavirus crisis, our first priority has been to ensure that emergency support is getting to the people who need it most. Community foundations have moved at speed to prioritise getting money out quickly to small, grass roots organisations. Our focus has been on helping as many people as quickly as possible. As the crisis has unfolded, and it has become clear that BAME communities are amongst those disproportionately affected by the pandemic, we acknowledge that BAME-led groups are key to reaching the communities they represent and serve.

We have conducted data analysis of areas with high BAME populations to analyse the percentage of grants reaching BAME-led groups. For example, in the East End of London (which according to the 2011 census has a BAME population of 58.1%) our analysis shows that 41% of NET Coronavirus Appeal funding has been awarded to BAME led organisations with a primary focus on BAME beneficiaries. Another example is the Heart of England Community Foundation, which serves the West Midlands, and has awarded 30% of funding to BAME-led organisations with a primary focus on BAME beneficiaries. According to the 2011 census the area has a BAME population of 26.1%. We are aware that the BAME population in both areas may now be higher since the data is from 2011 and, as the crisis continues, we recognise the urgent need to make sure more money is reaching more BAME-led groups.

We want to encourage more BAME led organisations to apply to us for funding but recognise the onus is on UKCF and community foundations to make grants visible and accessible. We are proactively engaging with BAME groups, membership organisations and communities to understand their specific needs in response to coronavirus; to listen, to collaborate, to build more relationships, to support and encourage more applications for funding. For example, UKCF is running regular webinars for organisations with leadership from black and minority ethnic backgrounds to share application criteria and process. We are also working with partners to identify community needs and advise the NET allocation committee on addressing these gaps.

BAME groups and networks have been historically underfunded and we want to help strengthen BAME voluntary sector infrastructure against future crises as part of our long-term approach. UKCF will administer an initial £250,000 fund for infrastructure support to reach BAME led organisations and tackle barriers to access to NET Coronavirus Appeal funds. We will ensure that the grant panel that decides where the funding goes has a majority of BAME members.

While addressing the crisis phase, we must look to the future. To ensure that we do this, we are working with BAME led organisations to identify and scale good practices across the community foundation network. We want to ensure equitable application processes, deliver unconscious bias training and increase the diversity of grant panels. We are also developing local and regional forums to connect BAME organisations and funders to learn from them and ensure that all our community foundations understand the landscape and are connected for the long term.

Community foundations are experienced place-based funders and because they are embedded in communities have been able to react quickly to support people in crisis. However, we recognise we need to do more to reflect the diversity of our communities, and we will continue to scrutinise our progress and the areas where UKCF and the community foundations can improve. We are committed to sharing our learning with the wider sector to similarly improve its approach and impact, so that we as a community of funders respond in an equitable way that ensures BAME civil society is better supported and prepared for future crises.

Therefore, our approach at UKCF will based on the following principles:

  1. We acknowledge the current position is one that can be improved, and we acknowledge the power we have to improve it
  2. We commit to improving our approach in partnership with BAME leaders and communities. Helping UKCF and its members to continually improve the impact we have across the UK for BAME people
  3. We will seize the opportunity presented by the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal Programme to instil positive systemic change for the long term beyond the current crisis. We therefore commit to gathering evidence, learning, listening, co-creating policy with our members and BAME-led organisations

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