The Welsh Government has awarded 25 grants totalling £115,580 to community groups across Wales to help put Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) voices at the heart of the development of Wales’ Race Equality Action Plan.
The disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities in Wales, as well as events which culminated in the Black Lives Matter movement, have drawn attention to race inequality and the experiences of BAME communities in a unique and significant way.
Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, who is leading work on the Race Equality Action Plan, said:
Now is the time to act, and to act fast. Here in Wales, we are taking radical action to transform the experiences of BAME citizens. We must grasp this opportunity to make meaningful change and tackle racial inequality in Wales.
By working with third sector organisations and community groups to draw in as wide a range of voices and first person perspectives as possible, the Welsh Government is ensuring that the Plan is co-constructed with BAME communities.
This novel approach represents an important statement by Welsh Government of its vision, values, and intentions, and the practical actions it will take to address racial inequality.
Jane Hutt continued:
The Race Equality Action Plan will set out the framework for improving the life chances and outcomes of BAME citizens in Wales. Work on the Plan is already well underway, and we are now investing funding in community and grassroots groups who are working to feed in the lived experience of different communities.
The Community Engagement Grant is a really important step in understanding community perceptions, and ensuring that the Race Equality Action Plan properly addresses areas of need. Most importantly, it will enable us to listen to BAME communities, hear their stories, and use first person experiences to build a Plan which will make cultural change happen in Wales.
Mymuna Soleman initiated the virtual Privilege Café at the beginning of lockdown, and has been awarded £5,000 funding from the Community Engagement Grant.
Every week, I host a themed Zoom conversation which encourages participants to talk about lived experiences. It has been amazing in terms of engagement, with over 200 people attending some calls.
I think Covid-19, and the racially aggravated events this year, can be used as a positive catalyst for change, as the Welsh Government is doing. By choosing to co-construct the Wales Race Equality Action Plan and taking the time to learn about the personal feelings of Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse communities, Welsh Government is taking a bottom-up approach. Instead of just saying “we want to do things differently”, they actually are doing things differently.
People within politics are starting to take the process of tackling racial inequalities seriously. I feel valued, and I feel that my opinions, and those of my neighbours, are valued. This grant funding is a huge step for me, which will enable me, and those who attend Privilege Café conversations, to take an active part in driving inequalities out of Wales. I’m looking forward to making it happen.