How you can work with the sector
Why involve BME voluntary and community organisations?
Specialist knowledge of needs
Do your current services meet the needs of the diversity of BME communities? Are you aware of the Different communities in your area? Working with BME voluntary and community organisations can help you acquire a clearer understanding of the needs of niche audiences/users that you had previously not taken into account.
Skills and experience in working with BME audiences
Working with niche user groups requires an enhanced understanding of why BME communities can be and feel marginalised. It requires more than empathy. For example, organisations supporting newly arrived communities or refugees will have detailed knowledge of laws and processes that impact immigrants and may have the ability to speak additional languages. These organisations have a wealth of knowledge, relationships and soft skills to advise on engaging their beneficiaries.
Reach and access to existing networks
BME voluntary and community organisations have been a key part of civil society for decades. This means that there is a flourishing formal and informal range of networks that already reach targeted and niche groups like newly arrived communities, Black gay men, young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs), Asian women suffering abuse and more. Rather than embark on an expensive and time-consuming scoping project, reach out to BME VCOs who can help you plug into those networks. These networks span national, regional and local levels and encompass membership, advocacy, advice, peer support, user support and cross-functional networks.
Building trust when reaching out to new communities and audiences
Trust can be a barrier when working with any new user group particularly if that group has experience discrimination or exclusion from service provision in the past. By working with BME VCOs to design services collaboratively will reassure BME users of its suitability. Often associating with a brand or name they trust can open doors.
Valuable allies in influencing change in BME communities
Influencing change in behaviour is tricky in any situation and trickier when you are trying to reach communities who feel marginalised and disadvantaged. BME voluntary and community groups can be invaluable in helping you understand the diverse BME audience and working with you to develop innovative influencing strategies.
Adding to your suite of specialist tools and resources
Specialist equalities (including BME) organisations have spent lots of time creating targeted resources and tools to enable better engagement with their beneficiaries. Working with these organisations improves your access to those tools and might inspire you to build your own.
How can you involve BME organisations?
Make sure you are aware of BME VCOs working in your area or sector.
Include them in your networks
Engage them through consultation
Design your programmes with them
Work collaboratively to deliver a project or service to BME users
Share resources and learning
Invite them to join as members
Recruit staff and trustees with experience engaging with BME communities and working with BME VCOs (and specialist audiences)
Send them your newsletter
Invite them to your events
Helping you engage the sector: Voice4Change England’s Services
As the only national member-led organisation and a leading public policy voice championing the BME voluntary and community sector, Voice4Change England can offer useful services to help you reach and engage the right audiences and harness the expertise of BME voluntary and community organisations.
For more information on services, please contact the Voice4Change England team on 020 7843 6131.