Nearly 9 out of 10 BAME micro and small community organisations may close due to COVID-19

5 May, 2020


A new report from the Ubele Initiative has found that almost 90% of micro and small community organisations led by people of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds could be forced to close if the COVID-19 crisis continues until June 2020.

Ubele is an intergenerational social enterprise led by the African Diaspora, which works to build more sustainable communities in the UK.  

The report, called Impact of COVID-19 on the BAME community and voluntary sector, was based on surveys conducted in March and April 2020, with 182 responses, 137 of which were from BAME-led organisations (at least 51% of their management board or committee must be from a BAME background). The definition of micro and small organisations in the report is those receiving £10,000 or less per annum, up to those receiving £100,000 per annum.

Showing the far-reaching effects of the pandemic, 63% of respondents know someone who has been diagnosed with coronavirus and has had to self-isolate.

Key findings from the Ubele Initiative report:

  • 68% of organisations did not have any reserves; 19% had reserves covering three months.
  • Given this lack of reserves, 87% of organisations surveyed could cease operating in three months’ time. If these organisations did have to close, it would lead to 15,000-20,000 service users unable to access services.
  • The report author (Karl Murray, of Ubele) suggests that organisations ‘consider greater collaborative working within and across sectors’. One of his medium-term suggestions is to contact local BAME forums such as Black South West Network.
  • Where possible, organisations need to move services and fundraising online.
  • Karl Murray has recommended that a ‘National BAME Infrastructure’ is created to offer coordination, support and development to BAME-led organisations in the VCSE sector.


Equalities and COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has hit equalities groups hardest, none more so than the BAME community. The Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre report found last month that 35% of frontline workers who have died from COVID-19 were from BAME backgrounds, whereas BAME people represent 14% of the overall UK population.

Beyond the pandemic, other reports have shown that BAME people have worse outcomes for a series of long-term health conditions such as diabetes and stroke (source: NHS report, 2019); they also face disadvantages in the criminal justice system (source: European Network Against Racism study, 2019), and a 21.7% ethnicity pay gap compared to white workers (source: ONS report, 2018).

Diversity, equality and inclusion remain an important focus for Voscur, and we are keen to highlight reports like these to help reduce systemic inequalities. As the report recommends, Black South West Network is a key point of contact for local BAME-led organisations, and we have a long history of collaborating with them on projects to support the VCSE sector across the region.

We can also help coordinate collaborations and partnerships on a more local level, and we can advise on funding applications for partnerships or individual organisations, during and beyond the pandemic.

The more we do to achieve equality in the community and support BAME-led groups of all sizes in the VCSE sector, especially during COVID-19, the more we can make Bristol an example that the rest of the UK can follow, to bring about systemic national change.