Supporting BAME Communities in Colchester
Work has been going on in Colchester for more than a year to ensure members of BAME communities are listened to and feel included and safe.
A collaborative project was launched in June 2019 by Community360 (C360) and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex who have been working with Essex Police, African Families in the UK, Firstsite, IAG Network, The Latin American Community members and UHURU Project. The aim of this was to improve links with diverse groups and to respond to community safety within BAME – black, Asian and minority ethnic – communities. The project has been extremely successful and has highlighted the importance of a multi-agency approach, partnerships working together with one common goal.
Throughout the year, the C360 project has –
• created a robust independent advisory group (IAG) to deliver safety information to the community, with a focus on BAME
• hosted the first Mexican Day of the Dead Festival to reduce barriers between communities and promote positive inter-cultural dialogue and to highlight hate crime reporting with 300 people attending
• held a series of workshops on safety, safeguarding and domestic abuse and increased the knowledge of those issues within BAME communities.
• recruited and trained hate crime ambassadors
Tracy Rudling, CEO at Community360 said: “We have a long-standing history with the BAME community; we really know the issues they face. It is a matter of us consulting with them on a monthly or weekly basis; it’s about being a listening ear.”
As well as working with the delivery partners, Community360 have being working alongside, Stop the Traffik, members of Caribbean, Kurdish/Iraqi, Turkish/Kurdish, Nepalese and Chinese communities, as well as older people groups the East Anglian Indian Association, and Black History month to consult on work that has been undertaken.
“The remit for this project was about hate crime awareness training, alongside looking at the issues that really matter to the BAME community, such as domestic violence.” Added Tracy. “This is not a case of jumping on the bandwagon. As an organisation we are passionate about helping our community as well as individuals.”
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC) contributed £18,000 to the C360 project from the 2019/2020 Community Safety Development Fund.
“Without the PFCC funding, we would not have been able to reach this wider audience.” Said Tracy. “It’s so important that we empower one another and ensure that BAME Community members voices are heard and action taken. We do not speak for them, but we can connect them with local statutory bodies and the wider society to raise issues.”
The project was cut short in April due to the Coronavirus outbreak, but the team instead began offering support to BAME communities in a different way.
Tracy said: “Throughout the crisis, it was very much a rapid response, but again showed how collaborations and partnership working helped to make the Covid-19 response so successful. We were able to converse with the BAME community via text and WhatsApp and assisted with packaging food to deal with their religion, culture and faiths as well as trying to assist with finding contacts for religious ceremonies.”
Moving forward C360 are now looking at what other projects they can work on to deal with the impact Coronavirus is having on the BAME community.
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Giving the public a voice in local community safety matters so they feel they are heard, feel able to come forward to report crime and anti-social behaviour and have confidence in the way that the police protect them and the fire and rescue services can keep them safe is so important. This was a great project to really help empower and connect with all members of our BAME community in the Colchester area.”