Race relations group could face axe

A CHARITY striving to break down barriers of racial prejudice fears it could be axed under Government plans to reorganise funding for local anti-racial discrimination groups.

By Richard Smith

A CHARITY striving to break down barriers of racial prejudice fears it could be axed under Government plans to reorganise funding for local anti-racial discrimination groups.

The Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) said the Government's proposals to set up a new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) puts funding for local groups in doubt.

Hamil Clarke, chair of ISCRE, said: “Race Equality Councils and the Commission for Racial Equality work hard to build community cohesion and this work is increasingly important.


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“Yet it might be lost within a huge body which must deal with anti-discrimination across seven distinct areas.

“There is no guarantee that the CEHR will support a regional network of local organisations to carry out anti-discrimination and racial equality work on the ground.

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“In the current climate following the July & bombings and the recent disturbances in Birmingham, we have provided a vital post-emergency service helping to hold our communities together by calming and conciliating.

“Our work in healing divided communities and promoting integration has only just begun. If we do not receive continued support and funding from Government the consequences for community relations in Britain could be disastrous.”

Mr Clarke said more than £4m was allocated annually by the Commission for Racial Equality, due to be disbanded in 2009, to fund local race quality work and this had been provided for nearly 30 years. The charity is funded under the Race Relations Act 1976 and it says there is no commitment for this to be continued under future plans.

He added: “If the CEHR does create a funding stream, there is a strong likelihood the effectiveness will be diluted by having to cover the work of a wide range of bodies working towards equality in general, rather than racial equality specifically.”

The charity has raised its concerns with seven of the county's MPs. The Commission for Racial Equality was unavailable for comment last night.

In the last three months ISCRE has supported victims in 35 cases of racial discrimination and/or harassment. This includes people who have suffered serious racist attacks or people being discriminated against in employment or the provision of services.

The charity gives talks to schoolchildren and is working with Ipswich Town and Suffolk Constabulary on the Kick Racism out of Football campaign and wants it to be widened to include pubs where matches are screened.

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