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 IMG6683a Pam Jobbins, Policy Officer

Dismayed by the increase in racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks after the 2016 EU Brexit vote, Advocacy Centre North and Newcastle CVS staff, volunteers and trustees joined NCVO and others in sending a message of support from the voluntary sector to those that might feel unsafe or unwelcome. The poster of signatures, #welcomehere, is still displayed in the reception area of our office.

For Welcome Here, our latest report, I asked voluntary and community organisations about the issues facing the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities that they work with, and sought out vignettes of the outstanding work that they are doing.

Welcome Here: Celebrating voluntary sector work with the diverse Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities in Newcastle and Gateshead

Consider what it is like to use your service / office / clinic for the first time:

  • How do you know if there is going to be someone there who looks like you?
  • Do people greet you with a smile when you come through the door?
  • How welcoming and friendly is the waiting area?
  • What if you do not read English? Or speak it well?

Dismayed by the increase in racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks after the 2016 EU Brexit vote, Advocacy Centre North and Newcastle CVS staff, volunteers and trustees joined NCVO and others in sending a message of support from the voluntary sector to those that might feel unsafe or unwelcome. The poster of signatures, #welcomehere, is still displayed in the reception area of our office.[1]

For Welcome Here, our latest report, I asked voluntary and community organisations about the issues facing the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities that they work with, and sought out vignettes of the outstanding work that they are doing.

The main issues coalesced around lack of access to services, with little knowledge of services; language barriers; exclusion; poor mental health; and poverty, poor employment, and welfare reform. The impact is deepened by racism, unconscious bias, and a lack of welcome.

I asked what the lives of the BAME people who use their services and activities are like, and organisations spoke of poverty, pressure, isolation, chaotic lives, trauma, and family separation:

“Not dissimilar to those of the communities they inhabit, difficulties with poverty, discrimination and a sense of social exclusion from mainstream Newcastle. They additionally face racism and a sense of being unwelcome”.

“The same for the non BAME population - poverty, debt, housing, safe spaces to play. Issues regarding official documentation; birth certificates, passports, bank accounts. Lack of welcome to other services”.

The issues of most concern are mental health issues, which are often hidden in BAME communities and which can be caused or exacerbated by discrimination, government policies and by structural systems.

All organisations should systematically examine the use of their services and activities with an approach based on intersectionality, address all forms of discrimination, develop an understanding of the barriers to inclusion and access, and tackle them.

All agencies and organisations should be asking themselves “how are we fostering good relations between and within communities?

We want to encourage you to dip in and out of the report. There are facts and figures to help you with funding bids. And key topics:

  • Accessibility, with suggestions for good practice
  • Wellbeing and Health
  • Education, youth unemployment, poverty, employment
  • Tackling racism, discrimination, prejudice, hate crime
  • Community cohesion, integration, inclusion
  • Women face structural inequalities
  • Participation in cultural, community and public life

There is a short Executive Summary

The full report Welcome Here: ­­Celebrating voluntary sector work with the diverse Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities in Newcastle and Gateshead contains useful footnote references. 

We hope you share and comment, and tweet with #welcomehere

[1] https://www.cvsnewcastle.org.uk/latest-news?start=80