October 2008   Issue 22 header_top



Welcome to the October edition of ROTA’s policy E-Newsletter. Given that October is Black History month we anticipate a busy period and will be attending numerous events. ROTA has had a busy Summer with Theo Gavrielides moving up as ROTA’s Acting Chief Executive and the policy team disseminating the findings of its Building Bridges Project and setting up its Transformative Justice Forum. The Building Bridges Project also received the ‘Making the Peace Award’ at the London Peace Awards in September and its findings are now being developed with a Women and Gangs research project. MiNet held a Regional Roadshow event with Voice 4 Change England. We are all looking forward to a busy and productive Autumn.

Carlene Firmin – Policy Officer




In this issue:
01 Equality and Human Rights
02 Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour
03 Community Cohesion and Empowerment
04Education and Young People
05Third Sector News



1. Equality and Human Rights

ROTA gives oral evidence to the Human Rights Inquiry of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

On the 26th September, Theo Gavrielides gave oral evidence to the EHRC’s Human Rights Inquiry panel highlighting the government’s failure to materialise the promised human rights culture. The Inquiry panel is chaired by Dame Nuala O’Loan DBE who is supported by two members Prof. Francesca Klug OBE and Sir Bert Massie CBE both EHRC Commissioners. The Inquiry is investigating how public authorities are responding to the Human Rights Act and how citizens understand and use the Act. Written evidence from ROTA was also submitted and can be accessed through our website. For more information contact theo@rota.org.uk



Third Sector report into migrant workers published

A report recently published by Kalayaan (a small advice, support, and campaign charity based in London) who work exclusively with migrants and domestic workers on visas have produced a report looking at why migrant domestic workers must be protected by basic rights, in particular the right to change employer. The research document has highlighted the increased vulnerabilities migrant domestic workers will be exposed to if new legislation is implemented which means they will not be able to change employer once in the UK. This has raised fears of exploitation could potentially be exposed to when here in the UK whilst it is also contradictory to a persons human rights. This work is an example of the importance of specialist voluntary sector services; to see the report please visit http://www.kalayaan.org.uk/documents/Kalayaan%20Oxfam%20report.pdf


2. Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour

Calling Cases of Best Practice Examples

Over the next 12 months ROTA will be documenting various cases of best practice across London where Third sector, public and private agencies are working effectively to tackle racial prejudice and hate crime. ROTA’s newsletter will provide ongoing updates of work that is taking place that fall within the recommendations from the Restoring Relations Project: multi-agency cross–sector work to tackle hate crime, any work or support that has been provided to voluntary and community sector organisations who use restorative justice and other alternative dispute methodologies and also examples of educative, cultural awareness or human rights projects that work to break down racial stereotypes and thus tackle racism. If your own organisation or an organisation that you are aware of is carrying out work in this area we will be pleased to hear about it. For more information or to provide news please contact Anthony@ROTA.org.uk

Building Bridges Update

Since the successful launch of its research report and film in July the Building Bridges project has been disseminated to policy makers and through media. Project leader Carlene Firmin, has discussed its findings as a Panel Member of the London Peace Lecture and delivered a presentation at the Mayor’s Academic Seminar into Serious Youth Violence. The project was awarded the ‘Making the Peace Award’ at the London Peace Awards, and the Women and Gangs research project which will run until 2010 is now being developed. Copies of the report and DVD can be purchased from ROTA. For further information on the BBP or the women and gangs research please contact carlene@rota.org.uk

ROTA’s Transformative Justice Forum

The recruitment of members for ROTA’s Transformative Justice Forum (TJF) has now been completed and the first meeting for setting the TJF’s agenda will be held Wednesday 22nd October. Regular updates will provided over the coming months about the intended work of the TJF and any other developments which take place. If you would like any details about the TJF or a list of the members that have been recruited please contact Anthony@ROTA.org.uk

Case Study Research into Commissioned Services for ex-offenders.

ROTA and Independent Academic Research Studies (IARS) have been commissioned by Clinks to carry out case study research into employment and training services available to ex-offenders. A minimum of 5 organisations will be studied looking into the effectiveness and difficulties in providing services to young (age 16-25) BAME people. We are currently carrying out a scoping exercise and would like to hear of any organisations that may be interested in this short project which will involve interviews with service users, service providers and commissioners. For more information please contact Anthony@ROTA.org.uk

Crime Mapping Service

A new website to provide a crime mapping service, launched by the Mayor of London in September, will enable Londoners to get crime figures for their neighbourhood. The website will provide information about crime levels in neighbourhoods, via maps and rates of crime, access to local crime prevention and safety advice, and compare crime levels across London areas. Mayor Boris Johnson said of the website: “Crime mapping was one of my major manifesto commitments and an important part of our strategy to tackle the number one issue for Londoners, crime and safety. This is a major step forward in enabling Londoners to really be able to assess the work of their local police in tackling the crimes that affect their neighbourhood. However ROTA is extremely concerned about this new tool given that it is based on police intelligence and therefore will fail to depict real experiences of crime. Furthermore, given the underreporting of crime experienced by ethnic minority communities, and the targeting of police activity in certain areas, ROTA is concerned that this tool will serve to stigmatise certain neighbourhoods and re-enforce police efforts in hotspot areas. ROTA’s concerns regarding this will be voiced at various policy meetings that we attend and via dissemination of the findings under ROTA’s Building Bridges Project (BBP). For further information on the crime map visit http://www.met.police.uk for information on the BBP contact carlene@rota.org.uk

Stop and Search Reports Scrapped

The Home Secretary has announced that 10 Police forces taking part in the Tackling Knives Action Programme (TKAP) will have a number of changes made to their operation to save police time. These new measure will include allowing forces to axe the stop-and-account form from the end of October, ahead of full national roll out next year. Police in these regions will instead use Airwave police radio technology to record any encounter, including ethnicity and location. The current record will be replaced with a card receipt explaining what people can do if they're not satisfied with the way the stop was carried out. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said, 'I am determined to support our police officers so that they spend more time saving lives on our streets. Giving police the means to dramatically reduce form-filling bureaucracy in these ten priority areas will free up valuable officer time to further clamp down on knife crime. However ROTA is concerned that such developments fail to acknowledge the limited benefits of stop and search compared to the damage that is done when the powers are not used appropriately. In London, over 77,000 searches have been conducted since the start of Operation Blunt 2 with almost 2,200 knives recovered – this is a 2.9% success rate; one needs to ask why this is so low and what police time is wasted during over 97% of searches that do not produce any weapons. ROTA will continue to monitor and respond to such policy changes informed by the evidence of the Building Bridges Project. For further information please contact carlene@rota.org.uk


3. Community Cohesion and Empowerment

The London Empowerment Partnership held its inaugural meeting

On the 9th September the London Empowerment Partnership held its inaugural meeting. This new regional partnership, hosted by London Civic Forum, includes a diverse range of third and public sector representative, will work, over the next three years, to improve the quality, coordination and evidence of empowerment in order to increase the numbers of people who feel able to influence decisions in their localities. It will link with London’s Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership, Capital Ambition, to ensure productive dialogue with and support to local authorities and local strategic partnerships, in particular those that have selected NI4 (the community engagement indicator) within their Local Area Agreements. The London Empowerment Partnership (LEP) was set up as part of the National Empowerment Partnership, under the Government’s Empowerment Agenda. To find out more visit http://www.londoncivicforum.org.uk/page.asp?sid=28.

Final judgment on Southall Black Sisters’ case

The judge who presided over Southall Black Sisters' court case against Ealing Council has produced his final written judgment. ROTA welcomes both this decision and the argument made in the final written judgement, in which Lord Justice Moses upholds some important principles about equality, which may be useful to those having to make the case for the specialist services they provide. Further information on the judgment is available on Southall Black Sisters’ website at www.southallblacksisters.org.uk .


MPA Partnership Fund – working across sectors

On 4th September the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) released a report offering an overview on the use of their partnership fund. The fund exists to provide opportunities for Borough Command Units (BCUs) to support and be involved in partnership activities according to local need. Out of 1.8m that was made available for the 2007/08 year, £50,500 was provided for engagement with BME groups, £191,000 was allocated to information sharing and £18,500 diverted into hate crime partnership work; ROTA welcomes this potential to work across sectors and would encourage an increased fund in future. For more information on the partnership fund please see: http://www.mpa.gov.uk/committees/cop/2008/080904/08.htm


4. Education and Young People

London Peace Cafe

ROTA and the Women’s Resource Centre supported IARS’ Youth Empowerment Project in organising the London Peace Cafe which saw many young Londoners coming together to express their thoughts and feelings about peace in London through Art. At the event three films were screened including ROTA’s Building Bridges Project DVD that highlighted issues and solutions to the problem of youth violence, gangs and weapons’ use in London. To access the films and the event report contact A.Burch@iars.org.uk

Encouraging Community Cohesion through Education

A key finding from the Restoring Relations Project (RRP) was the need for an increased focused within the national curriculum in raising awareness about different cultures. It was felt the sheer misunderstanding of other people’s customs resulted in ignorance and tackling such problems at a younger age was indeed necessary. Although not a direct response to the RRP, there is now a duty on all maintained schools in England to promote community cohesion and from September 2008 Ofsted are obliged to ensure this takes place. For more information please see: http://curriculum.qca.org.uk/News-and-updates-listing/News/Website_highlights_new_community_cohesion_duty.aspx

5.0 Third Sector News

Cabinet Office – Third Sector Consultation

The Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office is consulting with the third sector organisations to inform local government on how to ensure ‘an environment for a thriving third sector, and meet new performance targets.’ 104,000 charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises will receive the National Survey of Third Sector Organisations (NSTSO) questionnaire from Ipsos MORI. This will be the biggest ever survey of the sector and will ask about local and national funding relationships, advice and support services and the state of relations with local government. The survey aims to provide national government and researchers an unrivalled picture of the local third sector and what affects its success. Further information about the survey and National Indicator 7 can be found on the NSTSO website.

Working Together - Enabling BAME Participation

The Black Neighbourhood Renewal and Regeneration Network (BNRRN) has a new five year project called ‘Working Together-Enabling BAMER Participation’ The project will support Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) organisations (in Enfield and Lambeth for the next 6 months ) to engage in local decision making partnerships and regeneration initiatives. This project will provide the support that is needed so that organisations are able to voice the needs of their communities and help shape local policy and service delivery. For more information about this project, please contact Abul Helal – Community Engagement Officer on 020 8981 3003 or email abul@bnrrn.org.uk

Petition for BAMER Refuge Sector

Imkaan a national second-tier organisation which works on the needs and concerns of BAMER domestic violence refuges, outreach and advice services across the UK have launch a campaign to highlight the detrimental impact of the government’s commissioning policies on the BAMER refuge sector. ROTA have anticipated the detrimental impact that commissioning would have on local third sector services. Imkaan have initiated an on line petition for the government to urgently review these policies which are affecting in a short and long term the suffering and violations of human rights of women and children from this sector. (e.g. currently there remains only 6 independent BAMER women led services; 18 months ago this figure was 14) To read more about it click to see briefing paper or to sign the online petition.

£130m Grassroots Grants scheme

The Cabinet Office has announced a £130million Grassroots Grants scheme for small local voluntary and community groups. Whether it's helping local clubs get hold of new kit or coaching new volunteers Grassroots Grants aim to make a real and immediate difference to the work of any small and local community groups with annual incomes below £20,000. The programme, funded by the Office of The Third Sector in the Cabinet Office and administered by the Community Development Foundation, offers grants of between £250 and £5,000 to support activities that lie right at the heart of our local communities. ROTA welcomes investment in grassroots projects and would encourage greater planning for long term sustainable support for such work. For enquiries please visit the Community Development Foundation website at www.cdf.org.uk

Third Sector Investment Programme

Our regular readers will recollect that in January 2008, a partnership of MiNet, 3SA and The Department of Health (DoH) organised the London strand of the DoH’s Third Sector Funding and Investment Review at The Kings Fund. The DoH has since introduced new funding arrangements for Third Sector organisations in health and social care. The long-running ‘Section 64 General Scheme of Grants’ has now been replaced with ‘Third Sector Investment Programme’. For more information, visit www.dh.gov.uk/thirdsectorinvestment

MiNet and Voice for Change England Policy Roadshow

On 23 September 2008, we held a regional policy ‘Road Show’ with Voice for Change England (V4CE) at St Bride Institute. MiNet, our network of networks led on the ‘Road Show’, which provided an opportunity for our members and other invited guests to learn about the work of V4CE and hear from senior figures in the region about their vision for the BAME communities and the Third Sector. The event included discussion groups which enabled attendees to debate and identify priority policy issues facing London’s BAME Third Sector and the resources required to address these priorities. In addition to speakers from the BAME Third Sector organisation across the tiers, representatives from Big Lottery Fund, The City Bridge Trust and Government Office for London also spoke at the ‘Road Show’. The event’s report will be available soon. To receive a copy, please email: rafiu@rota.org.uk

Black History Month

Over the course of October ROTA staff will be involved in the following events:

 GLA’s Guns, Gangs and Weapon’s Practitioner’s Forum Annual Seminar
 Runnymede’s New Politics of Belonging conference
 Impetus Annual Showcase celebration
 Safer London Foundation’s Celebration Event
 Equality and Diversity Forum Annual Dinner
 Government Office for London LAAs Celebration event
 Tackling racial prejudice amongst young people
 Black Training and Enterprise Group: Creating Community Wealth
 Democracy and Empowerment Conference
 It's Black History Season: What's Happening in Race Equality
 Faith Matters Too: Working with young offenders
 Safe and Sensible: Health Consultation
 Still I Rise: Black women getting to the top