BME communities up and down the country are experiencing the most severe austerity measures by this Coalition Government, the largest increase in health inequalities and largest reduction in social mobility since the 1940s. There have been unprecedented cuts in public funding of voluntary and statutory services in the provision of front line services that supports families, service users, carers and workers. The Afiya Trust has over the last 18 months received a lot of anecdotal information through its networks regarding the impact of cuts.
We are bombarded with daily news of cuts covering all aspects of our work as a health and social care charity. Namely:
- Cuts in care packages for disable people;
- Closure of BME led community organisations;
- Reductions of front line services to communities e.g. lunch clubs, respite, advocacy, day centres and mental health community development workers;
- High portions of BME staff facing redundancy and reduction in terms and conditions;
- Specific grants to support BME projects and services terminated as a result of changing service level agreement and competitive tendering.
In response to these concerns and along with the dismantling of the gain that we have made as a community over the last 50 years around race equality and social justice, The Afiya Trust has launched the campaign ‘Living in the Margins’ to highlight the impact of the cuts.
The first element of this initial six months campaign is that we used the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to demand details from local authorities on the impact of cuts to BME services between the period 2010 to 2012 and whether they completed any equality impact assessments as required by the Equality Act 2010 to safe guard and minimise impact on BME communities and services.
We are still analysing the results and will be collecting case studies on the cuts with plans to produce a more detailed report of our findings in the summer. However, for this to make a difference we need you to sign up to our campaign. In return we will help you to lobby local and central government to halt the inequalities that are emerging as a result of the cuts.
So what can you do as part of the campaign?
- Become a local ambassador for the ‘Living in the Margins’ campaign
- Share your personal experiences of the cuts on the ‘Living in the Margins’ website
- Use our campaign pack to write to your local councillors and MPs
- Work with local community groups and residents to lobby and organise local petitions
- Share your experiences and concerns with your local council and local media.
- Support our campaign’s call for an emergency summit with BME organisations and government ministers on the survival and future funding of BME voluntary and community organisations.
It is clear, from the early findings in our research, that BME communities are carrying a significant burden under the cuts. Many of those interviewed, from carers, mental health survivors, volunteers to those living with cancer, are living on the margins of society.
Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg claim ‘we are all in this together’. From where we are standing the view looks very fragmented. Until we share the same vision, we all need to work together to support and defend our services and local communities.