'Connecting Communities' is a new race equality grants programme helping marginalised minority ethnic communities at grass roots level. The grants aim to empower communities, enabling them to have greater access to and influence over policy makers and service providers.
Organisations are invited to bid for funds covering four different areas. These include encouraging communities to:
- gain new skills and combat disaffection and disengagement within communities;
- participate in seminars, mentoring and job shadowing opportunities with Home Office services, for example, the police and fire service;
- celebrate minority ethnic achievements to counteract racist and negative stereotyping.
Launching 'Connecting communities', Home Office minister for race equality, Mike O'Brien, said: 'The government is committed to creating a society where every one of
its members is able to fulfil their potential, where everyone is treated according to their needs and rights.
'Racism and discrimination are barriers to achieving this aim. These grants are about combating discrimination - to celebrate racial diversity and promote equal access to services for everyone. We are putting our money where our mouth is, providing funding of£12m to make this happen.
'Never before has a programme like this been implemented. Whether it is women only skills training, a national award scheme to celebrate minority ethnic achievements or visits by the local police service to community groups - the key aim is to make communities connect, to help each other.
'We are serious about working towards race equality. We want to build a society where the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are respected and valued irrespective of faith, colour or ethnicity.'
1. The 'Connecting communities' grants programme was launched by the Mike O'Brien at the Black Regeneration Network in Birmingham.£12m will be available over three years.
2. The four strands of funding more specifically are: community networks - This programme will help create strong and sustainable local community networks, and bring together, wherever possible, faith and community groups for joint initiatives.
Opportunity schemes - This programme will give women in minority ethnic communities who are severely disadvantaged access to a wide range of educational, training, employment and personal support. It will also help address racism and other factors that cause disaffection and disengagement amongst many young men in minority ethnic communities.
Towards More Representative Services. This programme aims to build trust, respect and confidence between minority ethnic communities and local Home Office service providers such as the police and fire services; and promote these and other Home Office services as worthwhile career opportunities.
Positive Images. This programme will help counteract racist, negative stereotyping of minority ethnic people by publicising and celebrating the achievements of minority ethnic communities and individuals, and the positive contribution they have made, and are making, to British society.
3. The details of the grant programme are the result of consultation with community and faith groups and within government itself. A sub-group of the Home Secretary's Race Relations Forum has been advising the Home Office team. The consultation paper was issued on 31 January and 100 responses were received. The consultation paper
can be found on www.homeoffice.gov.uk.
4. The closing date for funding applications is 31 July 2000. Please call 0207 273 3772 for details on applying or visit our website on www.homeoffice.gov.uk.
5. The policy document is being translated into six main community languages as well as Welsh.
6. In addition to this grant, the Home Office Active Community Unit is also providing #1.5m over three years (starting in 1999/2000) to support the development of a regional network for the Black and Minority Ethnic Voluntary sector in each of the nine regions of England. This should enable the sector to engage more effectively with regional bodies such as the Regional Development Agencies and the Regional Chambers. The objectives of the grant programme are to:
- unlock further funds for the sector at regional level;
- advocate effectively for the sector at regional level to ensure that it is consulted and recognised as valuable in different policy areas and across sectors; and
- increase the effectiveness of the sector in each region through the provision of any of the following: advice, representation, training, publications and development services.
These networks will complement the local community networks being funded under Programme 1 of the Connecting Communities grant.