Southwark’s Back and Minority Ethnic (BME) led Community organisations came together in July to discuss their experiences of Southwark Council as their the landlord!
The experiences of BME led community organisations seeking to access and manage properties and spaces in Southwark for them to address some of the complex and socially challenging problems in their communities is not well understood or researched.
In a ground-breaking move several BME led Community organisations came together on 13 July to discuss whether their experience of property occupancy in Southwark, where Southwark Council is the landlord, has been a success or challenging story.
The organisations got together to find out if the BME – led Community organisations trying to deliver services and activities faced any structural barriers to accessing space/ buildings owned by Southwark Council.
Ethical Property Foundation one of the leading property advisors to the charity sector is working in collaboration with Community Southwark to help unearth these stories.
Some of the stories told ranged from organisations that had been pushed out of properties they had occupied for several decades ; being offered substandard spaces to occupy that clearly did not fit their space needs ; being put into debt by the council’s property department over questionable rent demands; being involved in unequal processes when bidding for property .
Cumulatively it appears that the BME Community sector are fast losing their ability to serve the complex needs of their communities and in turn preventing their prospects of providing better services because of the challenges they face with accessing council property.
It is ironic that Southwark Council who have a public equality duty to ensure that they advance equality of opportunity to all their protected characteristics seems at best to have forgotten that the BME Community Sector brings huge social value to community life in Southwark and consequently should be treated accordingly and at worst have been less than competent in carrying out it’s practice in relation to their equality’s duties.
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