The Crisis Facing Black and Minority Ethnic and Refugee Women’s Services
September 17, 2008
From Women’s Grid
BAMER (Black and Minority Ethnic and Refugee) women and children facing violence are finding themselves without routes to, and places of safety because of a series of contradictory Government policies. Government priorities need to change to avert murders, long-term suffering and violations of human rights of BAMER women and children. The situation has reached a crisis point – we now only have 50% of specialist independent BAMER women’s led organisations across the UK that existed five years ago. For example in London there are now only 6 independent bamer women’s led services, 18 months ago this figure was 14.
What We Are Asking For
1. A strategy that addresses the needs of BAMER women and children experiencing violence.
2. Set up a National advisory body made up of representatives from the BAMER women’s sector which feeds into and influences national policy.
3. An integrated campaign that addresses and reinterprets issues of honour, forced marriage, child abuse, violence within a broader remit of violence against women and its impact on BAMER communities.
4. A Government inquiry into policies including Supporting People, Third Sector Strategy and the Cohesion policy and its impact on the BAMER women’s sector.
5. An independent review to monitor the application of gender and race equality duties by Local Authorities and its impact on the women and BAMER women’s sector. Assessments should also take place to assess the impact of decommissioning BAMER services.
6. The development of minimum standards and best practice for Commissioners with the involvement of the BAMER women’s sector on the value and need for holistic services for women and children experiencing violence with a specific reference to the value of BAMER led specific provision.
7. A clear Government directive and guidance to Local Authorities and funders to recognise the need and value of single-issue funding targeted for BAMER women and children experiencing violence. This should include an immediate withdrawal of the cohesion guidance.
8. To maintain and further develop grants based funding system for smaller, community based organisations.
9. A need to maintain current levels of BAMER women led refuges and invest in the development of further specialist services to cater for Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic, Lesbian and Refugee communities and other groups with specific needs.
10. A thorough needs assessment of vulnerable BAMER women which examines the types of service interventions that are most effective for BAMER women experiencing violence with the full involvement of the BAMER women’s sector in analysing the data and shaping appropriate policy and service responses.
11. A need to make further investments in specialist, holistic BAMER services where there are existing gaps in provision including preventative, educational, accommodation-based, outreach, support groups, children’s and therapeutic services as crucial pathways of support for BAMER women and children.
12. The development of a specific benchmarking tool for BAMER services to allow for fairer value for money (VFM) assessments and whic takes account of the additional services and support provided by BAMER services such as translating / interpreting and immigration support.
13. A review of definitions of cost in relation to VFM assessments to ensure that quality and positive short and long-term impact of specialist services on supporting women to access services and leave violence is prioritised over and above the achievement of economies of scale.
14. That takeover and mergers of BAMER refuges by mainstream Housing Associations are the exception rather that the rule and need to be actively discouraged by Local Authorities, the Housing Corporation and Government.
15. Training for Local Authorities to understand the nature and need for specialist BAMER community based services for women and children. 16. A fairer approach to commissioning which encourages the delivery of services by a range of providers including smaller scale projects that target vulnerable and excluded communities.
What you can do:
• Write to your MP and Councillors – You can either copy this or use it as a guide to form your own letter. Please get your MP to sign the Early Day Motion (No 693) tabled by Linda Riordan MP in support of Imkaan’s campaign on ‘no recourse’ and cuts to specialist services.
• You can also send emails to your local MP and get him/her to raise questions with Harriet Harman MP Deputy leader of the Labour Party; Hazel Blears MP Secretary of State for Department of Communities and Local Government; John Dunworth, Head of Interpersonal Violence Home Office; relevant leaders of your Local Authority such as Directors and Assistant Directors of essential services, Commissioners, lead officers of the Supporting People Programme.
• Meet with your MP: To contact your MP visit http://www.theyworkforyou.com or call the House of Commons Information Office on 020 7219 4272.
• Sign the Imkaan petition at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/bamerwomensrefuges
• Contact us at email@example.com if you feel that decisions are being made to cut your service without your full involvement and consultation.
You can download Imkaan’s briefing paper which follows on from the public meeting held at Westminster in January 2008 to highlight the government’s funding and commissioning policies that are having a detrimental impact on the BAMER refuge sector that help BAMER women and children exit violence from http://freecharity.org.uk/pipermail/womeninlondontraining/2008-September/000772.html