Comic Relief launches £3.4 million fund for BAME-led projects worst hit by Covid-19

Hundreds of small grass roots charitable projects across the UK are set to benefit from a new £3.4 million fund from Comic Relief, which aims to help vulnerable communities by supporting Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) projects struggling to continue their services because of the pandemic.

Recent worrying reports have highlighted the disproportionate health impact of Covid-19 on Black and Asian people across the UK. Many small grassroots projects who work directly with these communities are also facing financial crisis and closure due to the pandemic, according to findings by the Ubele Initiative. These factors have led to equality campaigning groups including Charity So White, asking the voluntary sector to ring fence funding.

To help address these inequalities as part of its wider Covid-19 crisis response,  Comic Relief has partnered with the National Emergencies Trust to award £3.4m worth of grants to 10 BAME- led organisations who will distribute the funding to small and micro projects across the UK. This includes £2.75m in emergency funding from the NET’s Coronavirus Appeal.

The organsiations specialise in and will fund small projects across a range of services including mental health, domestic abuse, sports provision, gender, racial equality and family services.

Each of the 10 have each been awarded between £275,000 to £440,000 to distribute to UK projects. These grants will be available from mid-July and each organisation will set their criteria and grant amounts individually, with applicants applying to them directly. The organisations have the specialist experience and skills to reach smaller BAME projects. They include:

  • Imkaan - a charity working with Black, minoritised and migrant women’s communities 

  • The ATM - a non-profit organisation committed to tackling discrimination and promoting fairer and more equitable societies

  • Sporting Equals - who promote equal, ethnically diverse sport, and work across the health and physical activity sector

  • BAWSO - an organisation who deliver a range of services to thousands of people across Wales, including refuges, domestic abuse service, child services and outreach projects

  • Next Step - an initiative that empowers, transform and supports African communities in Scotland

  • Greater Manchester BAME Network (GMCVO) - who support and connect BAME-led organisations across Manchester

  • African Health Policy Network (AHPN) - who work with BAME people living in the UK who are disproportionately affected by long term health conditions such as HIV, mental health issues and diabetes

  • Voice 4 Change England - an organisation influencing policy to address inequalities, develop inclusion strategies and support BAME communities

  • Migrant Centre Northern Ireland - who support new and settled migrant communities in NI

  • BTEG who work across the public and private sector, to research, lobby and support BAME civil society organisations

In addition to these grants, Comic Relief has launched a £9million Change Makers programme which will provide funding to organisations looking at the social and structural changes needed to address the longer term impact of Covid-19 on communities.

20 per cent of these grants, approximately £1.8 million, will be targeted at BAME-led organisations. More details on how to apply can be found at  www.comicrelief.com

Jacqueline Onalo, Comic Relief Trustee said: “The disproportionate effect of Covid-19 on Black and Asian communities has been truly devastating. Smaller projects that work within these communities have also been adversely effected, after many years of neglect, with many at risk of closure. Our ring fenced funding aims to directly address these inequalities and empower BAME-led organisations, with specialist expertise, to reach and support grassroot local projects that are a lifeline to the people they help. Alongside the £1.8 million Change Maker BAME grants, I hope we can make a real difference to hundreds of projects struggling to support people throughout the pandemic and its recovery.“ 

John Herriman, CEO, National Emergencies Trust said:  “Partnering with Comic Relief to support BAME-led charities means we can continue to get emergency funds to those that need them most, while building vital capacity where there’s been historic underinvestment. Since our Coronavirus Appeal launched in mid-March, around 17% of funds distributed have gone to projects primarily benefitting BAME communities and around 12% have gone to BAME-led groups. It’s an encouraging start, but we know these communities have been the hardest hit by this pandemic and that more needs to be done.  That’s why this partnership with Comic Relief is such an important step.”

Atiha Chaudry, Greater Manchester BAME Network said: “We are delighted to be successful in our funding bid to Comic Relief and excited to be working to get much needed funding to BAME community organisations so that they can sustain themselves and continue to provide much needed services. These communities have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic and we have been extremely worried whether they will survive this storm . We have targeted our funding to small BAME community organisations with low levels of income because these organisations make up a large proportion of our sector, have insufficient resources to sustain themselves and yet provide the most effective support deep into our communities. We are keen to begin our grant programme as soon as possible.”

Details of the funding programme for GM-based organisations will be available on the GMCVO website soon.

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