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BAME communities must be at heart of Covid-19 response says Charity So White

BAME communities must be at heart of Covid-19 response says Charity So White

Covid-19 is disproportionately impacting BAME communities and the sector needs to take urgent action to avoid further entrenching racial inequalities in our society, Charity So White has said in a new paper.

Charity So White’s website has just launched, with live position paper Racial Injustice in the COVID-19 response published on it yesterday (6 April). The paper calls for charities to put BAME communities at the heart of their Covid-19 response, and presents five principles for charity leaders to implement to help guide their response.

The paper also highlights at the key areas where Covid-19 is most impacting BAME communities, which, over the next week, Charity So White will be focusing on by sharing content and stories on to showcase this impact.

The five principles Charity So White highlights to guide the sector’s response are:

  • Address racial inequalities in the sectorThis is not about choosing between tackling racial injustice and mitigating the impact of COVID-19. The sector should respond with an intersectional approach, taking racial injustices in our society into account, in order to be effective.’
  • Acknowledge who holds power ‘We hold more power as a sector than we admit. It’s time to use that power and to recognise that current models of funding and delivery are struggling, while others which don’t meet our standard metrics are taking the lead.’
  • Value lived experience & centre ‘at risk’ communitiesAccount for the different lived experiences of marginalised communities and prioritise coordinated action to centre them in delivery and funding.’
  • Trust the BAME voluntary sector ‘To best reach those most impacted by the crisis, we need to work with organisations closest to them. We urge organisations to avoid knee-jerk relief efforts and ensure they have built in the mechanisms to work directly with community leaders.’
  • Recognise & support BAME staff & volunteers ‘BAME employees will be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic as they tend to be more junior or on temporary contracts. Senior leadership should account for this, as many employees are at risk of staff cuts and hiring freezes.’

The paper includes a series of recommendations, such as investing in developing culturally sensitive, accessible, and translated advice and information about services to support BAME people affected by the crisis, campaigning for the introduction of a national monitoring process to track the use and impact of Covid-19 emergency measures on BAME communities, and prioritising providing advocacy and legal advice for individuals facing redundancy, furlough or unlawful action from employers.

Overall, it warns:

“The world can’t be simplified into ‘BAME’ issues and pandemic issues. We must look past the headlines and drill down to the detail. It is easy in a crisis to revert to familiar ways of working, but in doing so we risk not only reinforcing existing structures of racial inequality, but further imbedding them. We ask civil society to urgently mobilise and take the lead in centring racial inequalities as they support communities most hard hit by this public health crisis.

It’s unlikely that we will ever return to ‘normal’. The choices made by us today will have a lasting impact for generations to come. We need to work together, openly acknowledging the power and racial imbalances inherent in our sector, and seize the opportunity to set a new precedent for the future.”

The full paper can read, as well as downloaded, on the Charity So White site.

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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