David, our VCS Support Officer (supporting ethnic minority groups), talks about his role and the next steps for his areas of work.
“My mission is to make life for the BME community sector and its communities in Southwark more equal and fairer, so roll on 2023…”
Hello, I am David, Voluntary Community Support Officer for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Community organisations. My work focuses on developing their skills and confidence to manage and run their organisations; organise their collective voice to express and represent the needs, issues, and narrative of BME communities in Southwark at various decision-making platforms.
In the past 12 months I have supported the BME community sector to achieve the following:
- Develop 12 asks from the BME led community sector on how Southwark Council can better meet their needs. These asks to have now become priority work streams within the Councils Southwark Stands Together Initiative.
- To host the first Latin American Network led Community sector conference in Southwark focusing on the needs of their community addressing an audience of Senior Council Officers and local politicians.
- To hold the first Southwark BME led community hustings where the BME community quizzed prospective local election candidates from the Labour, Liberal Democrats and Green parties
- Helped the BME led community Sector secure £78,000 of funding from Partnership Southwark to address health inequalities in the BME community.
- Helped the BME led community sector secure £200, 000 Southwark Council ringfenced funding to help support their future sustainability
- The Latin American led community sector to run a successful campaign to work with Southwark Council develop a Latin American cultural Centre. This is now a manifesto commitment of the Labour administration in Southwark.
- R.E.A.C.H network to make representations on
More to do
There is still plenty to do in the forthcoming twelve months including championing more involvement of the BME led community Sector in grant making decisions by getting representatives from their communities to manage grant making processes including making decisions on how money is distributed in their communities. Advocating to Southwark council on behalf of the BME community that working on complex issues that matter to the community can gain better results for everyone if Southwark council is prepared work with the BME community sector to establish relationships based on equally sharing responsibility and power with at the decision-making table.
There is an evident gap within the BME community sector organisational development, in areas such as marketing, messaging, social media, networking etc. This needs to be addressed as soon as possible as the environment outside of their day-to-day service delivery is becoming even more challenging in competing for funding of all kinds, so they need to up their game on raising their profile on what they do and why the work is so important. This will help to put pressure on the Council’s values and their purpose so that they reflect the BME led community sector and its needs as an integral part of their polices, service provision and not just as an add on.
Still lots to do to especially with challenging the systemic race and ethnicity inequalities that still exists in the structures of Public and Local Authorities. My mission is to make life for the BME community sector and its communities in Southwark more equal and fairer so roll on 2023.