Minister for Civil Society sees the Big Inclusive Society in action
On Tuesday 5 April BME policy voice, Voice4Change England coordinated a visit by the Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd MP to member organisation, the Asian People’s Disability Alliance (APDA)
APDA is a needs-led and user-led charity that provides culturally-appropriate services that mainstream service providers are unable to deliver. The Daycare Centre, based in Harlesden runs a wide range of activities and services for Asian adults with physical, mental and learning disabilities and Asian elders.
Voice4Change England organised the visit as part of its work to show the role and value of the Black and Minority Ethnic voluntary and community sector in Big Society.
The visit included the Minister having lunch with the service users, talking to the volunteer who runs the weekly knitting group and sessional staff that run the drama therapy session. Nick Hurd MP also talked to people using the IT suite and saw a special performance by wheelchair user bhangra group Muskaan. Chairperson of APDA and service user Pradip Shah described the visit as ‘a wonderful and uplifting experience which has helped us spread our voice.’
Michael Jeewa, CEO of APDA said: We were delighted that the Minister came to see first hand our unique and tailored services. We were able to show him how we make a real difference to disadvantaged BME communities through social activities that tackle social disadvantage; arts activities that give services users a chance to discover new skills; and our successful volunteer programme where people share their skills and gain confidence. It is important that our work with communities is recognised by policy makers and Voice4Change England is the bridge that helps us do this.
Voice4Change England have recently lost their status and funding as an Office for Civil Society strategic partner. In response to the absence of any equality voice at this key policy table they have launched the Big Unfair Society campaign to fight for their reinstatement as a partner.
Chair of Voice4Change England, Elizabeth Balgobin presented the Big Unfair Society petition to the Minister at the visit. She commented ‘Through our Big Unfair Society campaign we are standing up for the essential work of BME VCOs. We are pleased to be able to facilitate this visit by the Minister for Civil Society to APDA so he can see for himself the great work they do with the community, volunteers, staff and service users and how they are doing their part to create a Big Inclusive Society.’
Notes to editors
About Voice4Change England
Voice4Change England (V4CE) is a national support organisation for the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. From 2007 to March 2011 we operated as a strategic partner of the Office for Civil Society. We are a leading voice in public policy and inform and influence practice that has a direct affect on the development, delivery and impact of BME voluntary and community organisations (VCOs). We support the sector to build its capacity and secure resources to meet the needs of vulnerable and excluded communities.
Our mission at V4CE is to ensure public policy meets the needs of BME communities by valuing and supporting BME VCOs to challenge inequality and strengthen civil society.
Big Unfair Society campaign
On 1 April 2011, equality-led organisations lost their place at the Office for Civil Society’s key policy-making table. Without representation at a strategic level the voice of BME voluntary and community organisations will be lost. This will have a devastating impact on the disadvantaged communities relying on their support and will prevent Government achieving a vision of Big Society that is fair, inclusive and progressive.
On 28 April Voice4Change England (V4CE) launched the Big Unfair Society campaign to mobilise everyone in the sector that recognises the crucial work of BME and other equality led voluntary and community organisations. They are calling on Government to:
1. Reinstate V4CE as a strategic partner.
2. Use the underspend from the Strategic Partners’ Transition Programme to support equality led organisations.
3. Directly engage equality led organisations in policy development and programme delivery.
Asian People’s Disability Alliance
The Asian People's Disability Alliance (APDA) is a user-led registered charity of Asian disabled people. Launched and active since 1988, APDA is a non-political, non-religious and non-profit making entity. APDA aims to:
Provide needs-led and user-led culturally-appropriate services that mainstream service providers are unable to provide because of limited or no expertise in culturally-related matters of Asian disabled people, their carers and their families. Work in partnership and in collaboration with service planners and other mainstream bodies to help incorporate the particular needs of APDA's client groups in service planning and other programmes that affect their lives. Act as a resource for Asian disabled people, their carers and families for consultation, peer support, exchange of information and ideas etc. and as facilitators in their social development.