"Very small, very quiet, a whisper"
Black and Minority Ethnic groups:
voice and influence

Working Paper 103 - October 2013

This research looked at the position of the Black and Minority Ethnic voluntary and community sector in the current climate, and their capacity to influence policy and practice.

All the organisations interviewed had undertaken activities aimed at influencing policy and practice, but their main focus was increasingly becoming core service provision. They were experiencing a reduction in funding and resources, and felt there was less commitment to racial equality from the current government. The Single Equality Act was perceived to have further weakened the sector, by reducing the ability to challenge policy on race specific issues.

Participants felt that the voice of the BME voluntary sector was not strong. There was a perception that organisations were ‘keeping their heads down’, becoming more inward-looking and focused on their own communities. However, there was still a willingness to confront adverse changes and participants identified the need to consolidate previous gains made around race equality issues.

A key challenge for the sector is to find ways of developing leadership to strengthen voice and influence in adversity. New models of collective organising might also be developed through the use of social media, and there is scope to build alliances across the sector and with the ‘mainstream’ voluntary sector.