Supporting BME Responses to Covid-19

According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) ‘people from a Black ethnic background are at a greater risk of death involving COVID-19 than all other ethnic groups… Significant differences also remain for Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian men’. Differences in the impact of Covid on ethnic groups in the UK have been widely reported since the start of the pandemic and it is for this reason that Indigo’s phase 2 emergency funding for Covid-19 is focused on funding groups that provide support to people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds.

In addition to a grant we made to the Rosa/Imkaan fund supporting BME violence against women and girls (VAWG) organisations and one to support the establishment of another fund for BME voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations, we have also made a series of individual grants to organisations working on BME mental health and domestic violence. From conversations with people working in those sectors, Zoom calls, online events and research that had been published it was evident that these two sectors would likely experience significant increases in demand and, possibly, reductions in income as fundraising events and activities were halted and staff furloughed or having to isolate due to Covid. Cognisant of this – and keen to get funding out quickly to help organisations in need – we awarded several grants to organisations up and down the UK working on these two issues. As newcomers to this field we wanted to hear from others with much greater experience of the sector where our funds could best make a difference. That’s why we decided to hear from people who worked in the sector and who had a good understanding of what was needed. Thanks to those conversations and research, we were able to identify the following organisations to support:

  • Angelou Centre (Newcastle): The Angelou Centre offers a range of holistic women-only services for black and minoritised women across the North East. The organisation remains unique as one of the few remaining black-led women’s organisations in the north east of England, providing specialist support for black and minoritised women and children, locally, regionally and nationally.
  • Apna Haq (Rotheram): Apna Haq supports women and girls from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities who are living in Rotherham to escape violence.
  • Bawso (Wales): Bawso is the lead organisation in Wales providing practical and emotional support to black minority ethnic (BME) and migrant victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence, human trafficking, Female Genital Mutilation and forced marriage.
  • Ikwro (London): IKWRO’s mission is to protect Middle Eastern and Afghan women and girls who are at risk of ‘honour’ based violence, forced marriage, child marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic violence and to promote their rights.
  • Latin American Women’s Rights Services (London): A user-led, feminist and human rights organisation focused on addressing the practical and strategic needs of Latin American migrant women displaced by poverty and violence.
  • Panahghar (Coventry): Panahghar have been supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) survivors and their families of domestic, sexual and other gendered abuse for over 40 years. Founded in 1980 in Coventry, the name Panahghar is an Urdu word meaning ‘safehouse’ and was specifically chosen so that Asian women could understand what Panahghar stood for; a place of safety and protection.
  • Southall Black Sisters (London): Southall Black Sisters, a not-for-profit, secular and inclusive organisation, was established in 1979 to meet the needs of Black (Asian and African-Caribbean) women. Their aims are to highlight and challenge all forms gender-related violence against women, empower them to gain more control over their lives; live without fear of violence and assert their human rights to justice, equality and freedom.
  • Ubuntu Women Shelter (Glasgow): Ubuntu Women Shelter is a Glasgow-based charity dedicated to meeting the short term, 72 hours – 1 week/ emergency accommodation needs of women with no recourse to public funds.
  • African Caribbean Community Initiative (Wolverhampton): The African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI) is a holistic and comprehensive support service for African Caribbean people affected by mental ill health.
  • African and Caribbean Mental Health Services (Greater Manchester): ACMHS is a community-based organisation providing free and confidential culturally appropriate services predominantly to African and African Caribbean communities as well as other minority groups including White Europeans with mental health needs aged 18 and over living in Manchester and surrounding areas.
  • Chinese Mental Health Association (London): CMHA provides a diverse range of services with the aim of serving Chinese people who suffer from mental health related issues and problems.

We have made £270,000 in total available to these organisations. In selecting them, we were driven by a desire to reach groups working with a diverse range of communities, as well as ensuring reasonable geographic coverage around the UK. Indeed, one outcome of the current situation is that some organisations have found new ways of reaching individuals beyond their immediate localities, through expanded online, telephone and other digital services. In addition, we looked for evidence of an organisation’s track record of successfully meeting the needs of those they serve. Finally, we wanted to select organisations where a grant of £10,000 – £25,000 could make a significant contribution to their work.

Details of further awards under our phase 2 emergency response work will be announced in due course.