March 20th, 2012

Raks New Profile Pic Square

Living in the Margins Campaign Launch, Monday 5 March

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On Monday 5 March I attended the Living in the Margins Campaign Launch held by The Afiya Trust at the House of Commons. The Afiya Trust is a national charity that works to reduce inequalities in health and social care provision for people from racialised communities.

Living in the Margins is a social media based campaign, empowering the most vulnerable groups, led by The Afiya Trust, to alleviate health inequalities for BME families in a climate of cuts.

The Living in the Margins Campaign Vision:
* Living in the Margins is the first campaign of its kind in the UK working to reduce inequalities for BME families and voluntary and community organisations.
* This social media influenced campaign will lobby local and national government, work with the BME voluntary and community sector and BME families to tackle the adverse affects of race specific health inequalities, in a climate of cuts.
* As BME families have historically encountered barriers in accessing equitable health and social care services and outcomes, the campaign aims to provide them with the tools to challenge the cuts in their communities and protect the services they need.

The Afiya Trust conducted a survey of adult social sevices departments in local authorities and got a response rate of over 75 per cent. Preliminary findings indicate that one in five adult social services departments do not collect data on the funding allocated to BME voluntary and community sector organisations or conduct Equality Impact Assessments. This means that one in five local authorities is failing in its equality duty to black and minority ethnic (BME) communities when planning cuts.

The overall funding trend was down for BME voluntary and community sector organisations, with the biggest cuts occurring in the Greater London area - 74% of London local authorities that responded reported cuts. In England around £3m was cut to BME voluntary and community sector social care funding in 2010/2011 - £1.5m of this was in London alone.

The interim report, regarding the impact of local goverment social care budget cuts on BME communities, with the initial findings and the resulting recommendations for central government, local government and metropolitan, county council and unitary level government, can be found here:

A full report, based on the Freedom of Information Act request to all 153 local authorities, including a league table and case studies, will be published in the summer.

Patrick Vernon, The Afiya Trust's Chief Executive
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Patrick Vernon, The Afiya Trust’s Chief Executive, said:
“There is clear evidence that many local authorities are not delivering on their legal requirement as part of the public sector equality duty to conduct Equality Impact Assessments when making funding cuts that affect BME communities. This comes at a time when BME communities are experiencing one of the largest increases in health inequalities and one of the largest reductions in social mobility since the 1940s. Yet, from our initial findings, they are bearing a significant brunt of the cuts.”

Kate Green MP, Shadow Minister for Equalities, who is supporting the campaign, said:
“This new interim research from The Afiya Trust shows a worrying picture of the real impact of spending cuts on social care services for people from BME communities. Some ethnic groups already suffer considerable health inequalities so cutting back on social care services they rely on, including culturally competent services and those delivered by grassroots BME groups, will make the situation worse. Local and national government need to urgently respond to the research findings.”

Follow the link to the full press release:

Living in the Margins Campaign Details

Twitter: @litm_campaign

Follow the link to find out how you can support the campaign:

Raks's Write-up

Kate Green MP, the Shadow Minister for Equalities, hosted the event. She said she was interested in the impact of the spending cuts on local services. She was also interested in how the cuts in spending and services were impacting on the health and well-being of BME communities. She believed that there should be a diversity of service provision reflecting the diversity of communities. She spoke about the very real financial pressures faced by the BME third sector.

Patrick Vernon, the Chief Executive of the Afiya Trust, spoke about the need to engage politicians around the spending cuts. To look specifically at cuts in health and social care and how this impacted on BME communities and race equality. Are the Directors of Social Services engaging with their local BME communities around the cuts? Patrick argued that although there were cuts taking place across all public services, BME communities were disproportionately affected by the cuts. The Afiya Trust was interested in the impact of the cuts on BME communities and on the BME services for these communities. Patrick stated that BME communities were impacted disproportionately by the cuts and he wanted this articulated at a national level to politicians, the general public and the media. He wanted the voices of service users, carers, families and healthcare professionals from the BME communities to be heard. He argued that, if the cuts were necessary, they should only be carried out following a full and proper Equality Impact Assessment.

Dalveer Kaur, the Campaign Manager, said that BME communities often provided vital and invaluable services that reached into their own communities; mainstream services would simply never be able to reach them. She also reiterated that the impact of the spending cuts were being felt disproportionately by BME communities. She wanted to ensure that the vibrant BME sector was encouraged and supported to develop and flourish and thrive. She was interested in spreading best practice, providing information and resources. The ultimate outcome she was striving for was the reduction in health inequalities and improved and better health for all communities. She also stressed the importance of hearing the voices of BME service users, carers, families and communities. (I could not agree more!).