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MEETING THE NEEDS OF BLACK AND MINORITY ETHNIC COMMUNITIES

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Support services must do more to meet the needs of vulnerable people ...
Support services must do more to meet the needs of vulnerable people

from black and minority ethnic communities, according to new

government guidance published today.

Housing minister Sally Keeble said support services are failing

vulnerable people of black and minority ethnic origin, such as older

people and women fleeing domestic violence.

The guide shows how local authorities and others must get behind the

stereotypes and assess the real needs of black and minority ethnic

communities. The socio-demographic profile of these communities is

changing and we cannot just assume that extended families will look

after the growing number of community elders.

'There is a lack of understanding of the cultural needs of black and

minority ethnic women experiencing domestic violence, including

language difficulties and financial dependence on husbands. Many such

women are unaware of refuges. They may fear racism in mixed refuges,

but this fear is lessened if there are black and minority ethnic

staff.

'Knowledgeable, sympathetic carers are needed to ensure pressures

caused by changing family structures, poverty and the need for

information about health and support services are met.

'This is an invaluable guide that will help ensure local authorities

recognise the need for quality services to meet the needs of black

and ethnic minority ethnic communities.'

Black and minority ethnic groups have persistent difficulties

accessing mainstream services. Improving support services for the

most disadvantaged is key to preventing and alleviating major social

problems, including homelessness and domestic violence.

The 'handy guide', written for the DTLR by social researchers, Lemos

and Crane, will be used by local authorities and specialist and

mainstream providers of services to black and minority ethnic

communities. It is the first in a series being produced in

preparation for when the new housing support funding programme,

Supporting People, goes live in April 2003.

Ms Keeble said the handy guide is a progressive tool and constitutes

the first step towards ensuring Supporting People delivers the best

possible support services to black and minority ethnic communities.

The commitment to provide equal access to support services, and to

expand provision where necessary, is part of the government's overall

commitment to improve housing related support for vulnerable people.

NOTES

1. Key objectives of the Supporting People programme, which the guidance will cover include:

- Collection, mapping and measurement on the needs of BME communities

and existing services to meet those needs;

- Expansion of the range and diversity of services available to BME

people in need of support

- Involvement and consultation of BME users, community groups and

providers in strategic planning, commissioning, and delivery of

services

- Ensuring fair access for BME communities to housing and support

services provided by mainstream agencies

- Ensuring support services provided by all agencies are culturally

sensitive to the needs of settled BME people and adaptable to the

needs of arriving communities

- Specialist providers to provide services for BME communities if

mainstream services cannot offer equality of access and provide for

cultural diversity

- Cross authority and multilateral arrangements to be used where

necessary to commission specialist services for numerically small

BME communities

- Simple administration and funding arrangements to be used so as not

to disadvantage applications from smaller organisations providing

services.

2. Comprehensive guidance will be rolled out over the next three

years. It will let commissioners and suppliers of services know what

to do by April 2003 when the programme is launched, and thereafter

what more they can do to fulfil their responsibilities and the

programme's potential. Supporting People is key to providing fair and

equitable services for all sections of the community.

3. A new DTLR website is also planned to help local authorities

commission services of demonstrably high quality to BME communities.

It will enable suppliers to market their services to local

authorities throughout the UK and develop their expertise in

continuing to meet BME needs. It is being designed and compiled by

Lemos&Crane.

4. The DTLR will assist small specialist providers to develop

strategies, taking account of specific needs of people from BME

communities. It will also raise awareness of support needs and work

with local authorities to identify ways of responding to these needs.

6. Copies of the guide are available here .

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