Community Education and Training Services

UK Registered Charity No.: 269681. Est. 1975.

UK Registered Learning Provider. Department for Education and Skills Registration No.:10006844


Text Box: We support Self-Help, Community Development and Sustainable Environment
Text Box: Voluntary and Community Sector, and that might be true. The government established the mechanism to encourage local strategic partnerships at various socially deprived areas in England at which significant number of black and ethnic minorities reside.

Local strategic partnerships supposed to involve members of the local community at its core.  The reality is that Black and ethnic minority groups at the grassroots are still being excluded in substance. “Partnership" is the new Buzz word. To the black self-help voluntary and community groups, which are still struggling with survival and providing services to members of the community, they have not understood the term ‘partnership’ as being used by many local authorities and regeneration agencies.

“Partnership” with little demonstration of vision and value, leadership, proper and mutually fruitful collaborative working relationships, is meaningless to those who are consistently at the sharp end of social exclusions.

Local Strategic Partnerships (LSP) applied policies must be proactive and needs led, culturally sensitive and inclusive. Black African, Asian,  and Caribbean young people, including those of shared heritage, the majority of whom were born in Britain, continued to be excluded from schools and ‘sucked into’ the Criminal Justice System, at a higher proportion than other young people in Britain. This is particularly so relating to children of African heritage.

The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), investigation into the incidence of racial discrimination in three English prisons, confirmed that there were more African Caribbean entrants to prisons in England and Wales than there were to UK universities in 2002.  The figures compiled by the CRE indicated that, in 2002, over 11,500 Black Britons were sent to prisons in England and Wales, compared to 8,000 who went to universities.

"For every (Black) male on campus, there were two in jail,"
Mr. Trevor Phillips, CRE, Chairman said in the foreword of the investigative report. Mr. Philips continued - "and even taking all ethnic minorities' communities into account, the average non-White Briton was almost three times more likely than a White Briton to enter jail rather than higher education."

The prison population in England and Wales currently stands at 72,000. The CRE investigation found that, between 1999 and 2002, the total prison population grew by 12 percent, but the number of Black inmates grew by 51 percent, even though Black people represent two percent of the British population of 59 million. Mr. Phillips said the issue of racial discrimination is one that the British society "cannot afford to ignore." (Racial Equality in Prisons 
(2003) 213pp. ISBN 1 85442 544 7).

Is this not a crisis? Who is responsible? Is there an effective collective will for applied solutions? There is no obvious solution at hand in resolving this situation, except a call from some political quarters to build more prisons, and encouraging the courts to give longer sentences to convicted offenders. A strong call for ‘Law and Order’ must also accompany an equally strong call for ‘Social Equity’. One without the other is unlikely to bear ‘civilised fruits’.

Trust the Black Self-Help Movement

The Black-led community and voluntary sector must be trusted and given equal share of available resources based on proportional needs.  There is no evidence to demonstrate that ‘equal sharing’ of resources has taken place in the past or is taking place at present. ‘Invisible hands’, as it were, are constructing unnecessary barriers – real or imagined which are causing artificial social and economic handicaps to members of the Black and ethnic minority communities and their self-help initiatives.

It is unfortunate that after forty years of parliamentary legislations against racism and unequal opportunities, members of the Black community and their institutions are still being marginalized and covertly excluded by our ‘shepherds’ of fair play. Is it not time for substantive social changes?

Britain’s social history clearly shows that black and ethnic minority voluntary initiatives are productive, and beneficial to our wider society. 

There are strengths and staying power in the Black Self-Help Movement, but there exist significant levels of uncertainties and decline.

Government Reforms are welcome

The Black Self-Help Movement welcome the government’s call to join in and help to provide regeneration ideas and activities in support of Britain’s socially excluded. This work is necessary  because if it were perceived by a minority that their finer racial and cultural sensitivities were not properly understood and safeguarded by policy makers and legislators, that might cause alarm, suspicion and hindrance to societal collective stakeholdership.

The black community had led the way in ‘active communities’ in Britain, even before these words were made fashionable.

As shown by the very brief history of black self-help in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, creative activities by the Black and ethnic minority communities have a long tradition in Britain. This is part of a cultural code, which might have had its origins in the concept and practice of an extended family culture in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.  

Today, black social initiatives in Britain struggle to cope with current and expanding culture of individuality, which seems to ignore in part the greater human interest and social cohesions.

 Funding Managers Need to Listen and Change

Management who has the tasks of interpreting community needs also has a special responsibility to listen, change and help those who are ready to help themselves in building social and economic structures within a liberal democracy.  

In spite of billions of pounds given by the National Lottery Funds, the European Social Fund, and other funding bodies, black regeneration is seen to be stubbornly and relatively inactive today, inconsistent with the dynamic black-led voluntary and community sector and the contributions they made during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. 

The government in its public sector and services reforms presents an important window of opportunity to managers of public funds to effect material change in the way black and ethnic minority groups are funded to enable real community regeneration.

Marginalisation and Erosion of Good Practices

Any policy and or legislation which seek to create harmony, balance, order, justice and reciprocity in a civilized society must be properly and overtly mindful of the potential pitfalls of racial and cultural marginalisation.

With the advent of Pan European Unity, some European Black citizens and residents could believe that, the Black communities' gains during the past forty years, in good community and race relations practices in Britain, could be marginalised, or even eroded.


The Black and ethnic minority    communities’ voluntary and community sector organisations have not experienced sustainable capacity building and infrastructural development over the past twenty years. Generally, what has been experienced are sustainable struggles and survival by the relative few. 

Managers of funds are still failing to provide the necessary funding and resources to the Black Communities in order to affect sustainable capacity building and infrastructural development. Members of the black and ethnic minority communities have presented consistently proposals and grant requests, but those proposals and requests evidently fell on ‘deaf ears’.

Some black and ethnic minority community groups gained some small grants of £5000 to £10,000, usually on a one off basis. Equally a sprinkling of black groups gained project funding for medium sized project development over a three year basis, at an average of £30,000 per year.  Core funding is hardly considered or offered.

The dedication and almost sacrificial commitments of black self-help groups working at the grassroots cannot be over stated, and must be recognized by all concerned.

Funders need to be proactive in their approach to funding black and ethnic minority grassroots groups. Funding managers should approach black self-help groups and discuss funding requirements. Funding policies should be amended or re-interpreted, where necessary, in order to accommodate this approach. 

The current system which decides on the funding of the voluntary and community sector is failing black and ethnic minority groups. Funders should use grant aid to help the regeneration of black-led voluntary and community grassroots organisations.

Funders should trust black and ethnic minority community initiatives. They should be prepared to take risks like all good managers, for the wider good. 

Funders should assist where necessary with systems for effective governance, by providing adequate and consistent resources for the same, including trustees, management, staff, volunteers and trainees re-training and up-grading of appropriate skills.

Black and ethnic minority groups should not be appendages to local strategic partnerships and sustainable development policies. Members of the black communities have a great deal to offer to societal progressive development, adding value, cultural and economic enrichments.

Members of the Black and ethnic minority communities are Britain’s assets, not her liabilities. Black initiatives should be encouraged to grow and contribute to the nation’s wealth, as the Black and ethnic communities demonstrate time and time again in areas of sports, entertainment and business development.

Britain needs her Black and ethnic minority communities, as her wider population aged. Britain needs to compete effectively with world competitions. She would be foolish to allow a significant proportion of her young population to remain untrained, unskilled and relatively angry, partly because some funding managers lack vision and commitment to get the very best from multi-cultural Britain, which will remain with us for thousand of years.
The Federation is determined to be in the front line of the general voluntary and community sector in assisting jointly with the creation of opportunities for well resourced and effective multi-cultural voluntary and community infrastructures, in order to play pivotal roles in arresting and reversing the social and economic rot in our modern Society.

 A rot which is currently contributing to breeding an ‘underclass’ in our urban ‘squalors’, whose members are beginning to populate and overcrowd Britain’s penal and psychiatric institutions.

The government move to support the community and voluntary sector is an important recognition of current needs. The Black and ethnic minority business sector also needs capacity building and infrastructural regeneration.

The Way Forward

Strategies for the Way Forward ideally would be based on the successes and good practices of surviving black and ethnic minority self-help groups. There are existing groups in the community with over thirty years of experiences working at the grassroots. They survived and still producing good work. This calls for encouragements and celebrations. There are examples from which positive lessons can be drawn.

Black and ethnic minority National, regional and local umbrella organisations need to be encouraged and strengthened. These structures are essential for the co-ordination and development of voluntary and community initiatives, within the Black and ethnic minority voluntary and community sector. A national perspective helps strategic planning and capacity building, based on cultural sensitivities. Networking is essential to avoid unnecessary duplications of tasks. A national perspective also helps to set standards and encourage good practice. The lack of adequate core resources is the single most obstructive fact for hindering the development of Black and ethnic minority voluntary and community initiatives and effective networking.  Sustainable CORE RESOURCES are needed, which include realistic funding, technical assistance and training.    

There needs to be an independent ‘Black Think Tank’ to which government and other relevant bodies would get authentic information of current needs at the grassroots and how these needs are impacting on members of the community. This would include monitoring the effectiveness of the Compacts between the public and voluntary/community sector, public funding to black and ethnic minorities and the effectiveness of government polices as they affected members of the target communities.

Voluntary and community groups’ accountability must be to members of the community, which include organisations’ members and users. This should be demonstrated by the high quality of service delivery to members of the Community. Accountability to funders and sponsors in as much as to ensure that proper records are kept of the funding received and that the funds expended for the purpose for which they were given, and a report is produced within a reasonable period, showing the levels of service delivery to beneficiaries.

Good standards, performances and governance of voluntary organisations must be a common concern to all voluntary and community groups 

Voluntary and community groups, from the Black and White communities, must continue to aim for high standards in their work and service delivery, which includes good management, in which professionals, laymen and women, users’ and staff  representatives help to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate policies of the organisations. 

 Black and ethnic minority successful community development in Britain is in the Nation’s interest. Better trained and well-motivated citizens, whatever their ethnicities, ward off damaging world competitions in trade and commerce, and contribute to the wealth of the nation. It is a simple equation: ‘Racism is bad for the Nation. Equal Opportunity is good’.

Vince Hines Brief Biography

The Black European Community development Federation (BECDF)
PO Box 54916
Vince Hines © All rights reserved. October 2004.

Dr. Vince Hines Developing Infrastructures continued

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