April 2010    Issue 38

Welcome to the April edition of ROTA's newsletter!

The end of the financial year has seen ROTA’s policy team finalise reports on serious youth violence and social cohesion, alongside preparing responses to the Department for Children, Schools and Families consultation documents on Pupil and Parent Guarantees and Sex and Relationship Education.

Following the successful launch of the Female Voice in Violence (FVV) report, ROTA is setting up the FVV Coalition to take forward a number of the research recommendations and monitor progress across the country. We also successfully held our first training event on the Single Equality Bill and MiNet produced a policy briefing on violent extremism.

March also saw us welcome our new Head of Policy, Rahana Mohammed, and we look forward to working with her during what is shaping up to be an exciting year at ROTA.

Dr Theo Gavrielides, ROTA’s Chief Executive Officer, has resigned from his position to return to his portfolio and academic career. He will also spend more time with the youth-led charity he founded, Independent Academic Research Studies www.iars.org.uk.

Theo says: “Over four years at ROTA, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some really dedicated and passionate individuals and it has been an honour to be part of the race equality movement. We have set up projects such as the Female Voice in Violence, the Transformative Justice Project, the Restoring Relationships Project and the Building Bridges Project. We have facilitated networks such as MiNet and HEAR and set up the Winning the Race Coalition.

“I am leaving the organisation with much pride and with every hope that the hard work we have put into ROTA will continue.”

Theo’s new contact details are t.gavrielides@iars.org.uk; phone 0772 005 7750.

In this issue:
National Policy News
01 Equality and Human Rights Policy
02 Criminal Justice National Policy
03 Health Inequalities National Policy
04 Education and Young People National Policy
05 Other National Policy News
London Policy News
01 MiNet updates
02 Other London Policy News

Attention all ROTA members! Our AGM will take place at The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, The County Hall, Westminster Bridge, London, SE1 7PB, on 14 April 2010, 12:00-17:00. If you would like attend, please contact Saifur Valli.

Free Places for Voluntary and Community based Organisations on Hate Crime and Restorative Justice Training
On 12 April 2010, we are offering free places to voluntary and community based organisations with fewer than 10 members of staff, for hate crime training (with a holding payment of £25, which will be reimbursed on attendance). The training, which has received excellent feedback, draws attention to the dynamics of hate crime, the role of mediation, and the value of multi-agency cross-sector partnerships. Places are limited. The fee for statutory and private sector organisations is £65. Contact Ewan Kennedy to register.


National Policy News

1. Equality and Human Rights Policy

Equality Bill passes its Third Reading in the House of Lords

The Equality Bill successfully passed its third reading stage in the House of Lords on 23 March 2010. The House of Commons will consider amendments to the Bill on 6 April 2010. There were several amendments agreed in the House of Lords but the Government has stated it is not planning to oppose any of these amendments. Therefore it is expected that the government will pass the Bill into law.

With the expected forthcoming election, parliament is expected to be dissolved around 6 April for an election in early May. If the government is unsuccessful and the House of Commons does not agree the Bill in its present form before parliament is dissolved, then it will go into wash up. This is a process where the two main parties negotiate which Bills will be passed and how they will be amended to do so. As the government is expected not to oppose any of the amendments, and the opposition front benches have expressed support for the Bill, we expect it will pass into law by the time of the election.

Relevant amendments of interest for race equality issues:

  • Proportionality was added to regulate the ‘tiebreaker’ positive action clause 159

  • Power for a Minister to add 'caste' as an aspect of race was agreed

  • The publication of information on the diversity of candidates for registered political parties was agreed

  • Discrimination Law Association amendment to add ‘take reasonable steps’ to public sector equality duty in clause 148 was defeated

After the election it will be important for the coalition, our partners and stakeholders to ensure that the new government brings the powers in the Equality Bill into force as soon as possible. The Coalition will be working on this over the coming months. For more information please contact Ewan Kennedy.

ROTA Training on Race Equality legislation and the proposed Equality Act

ROTA piloted the training it has developed on the Equality Bill and present race equality legislation on 24 March 2010. A number of third sector BAME-led organisations and statutory organisations attended the event and gave excellent feedback. The participants found the training very useful.

We will be holding further training sessions over the coming year. Once dates are agreed Coalition members will be given early notice. For further information please contact Ewan Kennedy.

UK Human Rights Legislation

In March, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) warned that watering down the UK’s human rights legislation would seriously damage the country’s credibility on the international stage and undermine rather than enhance our security.

The warning coincided with a political discussion, hosted by EHRC on the future of human rights legislation. The Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Grieve MP, Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and David Howarth MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Justice set out their respective party’s position and answered questions from human rights experts. Watch the debate here.

EHRC also published a response to the government’s consultation on a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities which is available here.

ROTA has been engaging in discussions with EHRC and other stakeholders and hopes to keep you informed on developments through this newsletter.

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG): Cohesion Delivery Framework 2010

In March Communities and Local Government (CLG) published ‘Cohesion Delivery Framework 2010: Overview’, which is about national and local government commitment to build cohesion under Public Service Agreement 21 (cohesive, empowered and active communities). Read the overview here.

Runnymede Perspective: ‘Conservatism and Community Cohesion’

Runnymede has launched its first ‘Perspective’ entitled ‘Conservatism and Community Cohesion’, which includes an article by Conservative MP Dominic Grieve and responses to it from Lord Parekh, chair of the Runnymede Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain; Montserrat Guibernau of Queen Mary University of London; Ludi Simpson of the Cathie Marsh Centre of Census and Survey Research at the University of Manchester; and Shamit Saggar of the University of Sussex. Read the Perspective here.

Community cohesion was identified as the top concern for those who participated in our 2009 consultation of London’s BAME third sector. In response, we are currently working on a think piece entitled ‘race equality and social cohesion in Britain: connecting the two agendas’, which will be discussed at our AGM on 14 April, and which will inform our future relevant work. To find out more about this piece of work please email Barbara Nea.To find out more about ROTA’s AGM please contact Saifur Valli on 020 7902 1177.


2. Criminal Justice National Policy

ROTA launches the Female Voice in Violence Coalition

Following the successful launch of the report ‘Female Voice in Violence: A study into the impact of serious youth and gang violence on women and girls’, ROTA is to launch the Female Voice in Violence (FVV) Coalition.

The FVV Coalition will monitor progress in both policy and practice, producing an annual review for the next three years against the recommendations made in the report. The Coalition will be led by ROTA, in partnership with the nia project and Imkaan, and steered by a working group of up to 15 stakeholders. The working group will also be informed by the wider FVV Coalition membership. For further information on the Coalition, to apply to sit on the working group or become a Coalition member please visit the new FVV Webpage.

Evidence of Disproportionality in Youth and Criminal Justice System

Statistics released during March have shown a rise in the number of black young people in custody between 2004 and 2008 from 10.2 per cent to 13.1 per cent, which is disproportionate to those young black people in the population. This evidence has surfaced during the same month that the Equality and Human Rights Commission published ‘Stop and Think: A critical review of the use of stop and search powers in England and Wales’, which demonstrates continued disproportionality in stop and search figures.

The EHRC has stated that they will write to the police forces with the most disproportionate use of stop and search tactics to raise its concerns over possible breaches of the Race Relations Act. View the full report here. ROTA continues to work on disproportionality under its criminal justice policy work, in relation to BAME individuals within the criminal justice system and those who are victimised. For further information on ROTA’s work on criminal justice please contact Rahana Mohammed.

Launch of Stern Review

During March, Baroness Stern launched her review of how government agencies – from the police, local authorities and the Crown Prosecution Service, to the health service and third sector organisations – work to meet the needs of women who have experienced rape and respond to complaints made. The report argues that while the right policies are in place, their implementation is patchy and there is evidence that conviction rates have taken over the wider debate on how to support women affected by sexual violence. The review draws reference to ROTA’s Female Voice in Violence project and we welcome its recommendations. Download the report here.

Imkann: The experiences of BAMER women and children facing violence and abuse’

Imkaan’s recent findings from the largest ever research sample of BAMER women experiencing domestic and sexual violence has produced results with enormous significance for policy makers. The new interim report ‘Vital Statistics: The experiences of BAMER women and children facing violence and abuse’ is a summary of the findings providing detailed data on 124 BAMER women and their routes to services and safety. The Imkaan survey presents the first consistent system of capturing national information on the direct experiences, service responses and specific needs of BAMER women and children fleeing violence. This is significant research and will certainly inform the FVV work ROTA is conducting on girls and women associated with or members of a gang. View the Imkaan report here.


3. Health Inequalities National Policy

New manifesto on BAME wellbeing highlights disturbing trends in health and social care

On 16 March, the Afiya Trust held an event to launch its new manifesto on health and social care. ROTA shares the Afiya Trust’s concerns about inequalities in relation to health and social care and as such has identified health as a policy priority, and supports this manifesto. Find out more about the Afiya Trust and read the manifesto here.

Political parties' health policies

Over the coming months ROTA will be considering the health policies of the three main political parties. The King’s Fund have recently produced quick guides to the policies which are available here. LVSC’s March newsletter noted that all three parties are promising a less target-driven culture and reform to the system of funding residential care, and both the Labour and Conservative parties are proposing to maintain NHS funding levels despite the recession.


4. Education and Young People National Policy

Learning for young people in youth custody in England: Statutory guidance for Local Authorities

In partnership with the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) have launched a consultation on a document about learning for young people in youth custody. The final document will form statutory guidance for local authorities in England to underpin their responsibilities towards education and training for young people detained in youth custody as set out in the Education Act 1996 (as amended by the Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning (ASCL) Act 2009).

Given the disproportionate number of BAME girls and boys in youth custody we would encourage BAME groups working with young offenders to seek to inform this consultation. ROTA continues to engage in this policy field through the Female Voice in Violence, Transformative Justice and Race for Justice work programmes. The closing date for response is 15 June 2010. Find out more here.

Consultation: Pupil and Parent Guarantees

In January, the Department for Schools, Families and Children (DCSF) launched a public consultation on the ‘Introduction of Pupil and Parent Guarantees’. Pupil and Parent Guarantees will detail the key components of a good education, with a focus on the entitlements and responsibilities of pupils and parents. ROTA will be producing a consultation response because education is a policy priority for ROTA, and engagement between family and the education system is a need for BAME parents, especially those newly arrived in the UK. The consultation closes on 6 April 2010. Find out more here. If you would like to inform our response, please contact Barbara Nea on 020 7902 1177.

Report says child protection reforms weakening the safety net

A recent report by Loughborough University warns that child protection reforms risk weakening the safety net. An increase in rules and targets that are intended to improve child protection, are instead overloading stretched social workers and risk weakening protection. The study into Lord Laming’s report, The protection of children in England: a progress report, has proposed a five point plan to ensure social work reforms result in the best possible protection of vulnerable children. Read Loughborough University’s report here.



5. Other National Policy News

Promote Performance Campaign

Voice4Change England has launched a new campaign ‘Promote Performance’ to encourage BAME third sector organisations to evidence the value and benefits of their work. The campaign is aimed at BAME third sector organisations which want to improve what they are doing but could be unfamiliar with performance jargon. Find out more and access the resources being made available through this project here.

The campaign complements MiNet’s work on the recession, which has highlighted the need for BAME third sector organisations to make clearer and more evidenced based justifications for their services at times when less funding is available.

Support for All: the Families and Relationships Green Paper

DCSF have just launched a Green Paper entitled ‘Support for All: the Families and Relationships Green Paper which sets out a wide range of measures aimed at supporting all families as they bring up their children and cope with times of stress and difficulty. The proposals recognise that while all families need some help, there are families in our society with complex needs and others who require additional – and sometimes non-negotiable – support. The consultation closes on 21 April 2010. Some of the policy proposals can be implemented straight away. Others are for consultation or will take longer to put into place. It covers issues of relevance to a number of ROTA’s projects and policy priorities, and as such we hope to monitor developments and keep you informed over the coming months.

ROTA’s recent Female Voice in Violence project and anecdotal evidence that we have collected has found that in some cases social workers increase risks that children and young people are exposed to when they approach families without understanding their cultural context.

BME Third Sector Manifesto launched! – Have Your Say

Voice4Change England has launched an online survey asking BAME third sector organisations about their hopes and concerns for the sector and how they think Government can help. Findings will be used to inform a manifesto that will be published after the 2010 general election to help newly elected MPs understand and support the sector. It is also intended for use by BAME third sector organisations to use in their relationships with MPs and other decision makers.

Voice4Change England is urging BAME third sector organisations to complete the survey by 15 April 2010. Find out more and complete the survey here.

MiNet, London’s regional BAME network, which is hosted by ROTA, is one of Voice4Change England’s regional partners and is supporting this campaign.

Fund for working with Marginalised Groups

The Woodward Charitable Trust awards grant funding to organisations in the UK working with social and ethnic minority groups, prisoners and ex-offenders, homelessness, and people experiencing abuse and addiction. Small grants of between £100 and £5,000 and large grants of over £5,000 are available to UK registered charities with an annual turnover of less than £250,000. ROTA research on criminal justice has illustrated that working at a local level with BAME individuals and communities is crucial to meet the needs of the most marginalised. We would encourage BAME groups to apply for this fund. The deadline for receipt of applications to be considered at the Trust's July 2010 meeting is 24 May 2010. More details are available here.

A New Fund for Faith Groups

Communities Secretary John Denham unveiled a £1m fund to help faith groups get their voices heard by Government and public bodies and help play their part delivering public services. He praised faith groups for their hard work and commitment to their local communities and called on local authorities to ignore the myths about faith communities and create a level playing field for faith groups providing publicly funded services.

He also announced a £50,000 prize to reward faith groups for innovative projects in their local communities. Both funds will begin in the summer. Get further information here.


London Policy News

1. MiNet updates

Monitoring changes in Public Sector funding

  • Has your organisation been affected by the recession?

  • Has your organisation experienced a reduction in public sector funding?

  • Have there been changes to services provided by your local authority?

MiNet, in an effort to dissect the impact of changes in public spending patterns on BAME third sector organisations across London boroughs, have formulated a research survey aimed at addressing this rather prominent issue. It not only focuses on the main areas of service delivery affected, but also maintains an equal concern with the changes to services provided by an organisation’s local authority.

This will allow MiNet to more accurately represent the concerns of London’s BAME Third Sector at a regional level. To take part in MiNet’s survey please contact Anthony Salla.

Worklessness in London costs £5 billion a year – the need to support local projects

The findings of a recent report released by London Councils chimes with many of the recommendations made by MiNet in a recent response to the Mayor of London’s Economic Development Strategy (EDS). The London Councils report suggests the need to move away from national programmes which aim to get people back into work towards a situation where greater support is offered at a local level.

The report states that over £5 billion is spent addressing worklessness, based on expenditure in social housing, council tax and other areas such as training programmes. MiNet’s response to the EDS indicates the fundamental long term benefits of supporting local projects, such as LEAP (Brent) or Seedtime (Barking) due to local knowledge of diverse needs, which constantly succeed in helping people to find and stay in employment. Read the report here. For further information please contact Anthony Salla.

MiNet Policy Briefing – Preventing Violent Extremism

MiNet have produced a Policy Briefing highlighting some of the key issues and concerns surrounding the government’s Preventing Violent Extremism agenda. The Briefing details some of the issues around the independence of organisations which receive this funding and the implications it may have for their organisation. For a copy of this Policy Briefing please email MiNet@rota.org.uk.

Afiya Trust BAME Health Manifesto

The Afiya Trust has now released their BAME health and well being manifesto. The Afiya Trust is a national second tier organisation with an England-wide remit to reduce inequality in health and social care provision for racialised communities.

The manifesto insists on the need to address the diversity of identities and experiences within communities while delivering health and social care services, amongst other priorities such as developing systems, to enable racialised communities to influence policy making at the top level and to support community-led social marketing campaigns to challenge inequalities and raise awareness For more information visit www.afiyatrust.org.uk.

Local issues, regional significance

Refugee and Migrants Forum East London (RAMFEL) have recently raised a number of concerns locally in Redbridge around controversial funding plans which potentially place single issue groups in a precarious position, whilst oddly it is documented that the local authority is providing funding for stables for horses. RAMFEL would like to encourage some fresh debate on single issue funding and the need for high quality, effective and enabling community cohesion strategies locally. You can get involved in these debates on RAMFEL’s blog here.


2. Other London Policy News

Mayor publishes Violence Against Women Strategy

During March the Mayor of London published his strategy to end violence against women in London. The strategy aims to work across the police, local authorities, third sector, NHS and criminal justice system on all forms of violence against women, from both the prevention and enforcement perspectives.

ROTA welcomes the strategy and especially acknowledges the specific attention paid to girls affected by gang violence and the evidence generated from the Female Voice in Violence Project. Through our seat on London’s Violence Against Women and Girls’ Panel we will continue to advocate on issues for females affected by youth violence, as well as all BAME women and girls affected by violence in the capital. We will seek to disseminate information from the panel through the FVV Coalition. Find out more information on the Mayor’s strategy here, or email Carlene Firmin for more information on the FVV Programme.