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Equality, racism and BME Sector Leadership: Crises or opportunity for revitalisation?

Dec 10, 2013 - Comments: 0

The 1960s, 70s and 80s was a tough place to be an ethnic minority in Britain. Racial tensions, high unemployment, poor housing, inner city deprivation and stop and search “sus laws” saw riots erupt across a number of cities. It was also the period which saw a generation of Black and Asian young people become activists and organisations sprung up across the country to serve the needs of BAME communities, highlight their plight and promote race equality. But is the BAME voluntary sector now in crises at a time when race and immigration are the second highest issue of public concern after the economy?

With integration better than most places in the world, there is a great deal to be positive about race relations in Britain. However, according to a BBC report in 2012, nearly 88,000 racist incidents were recorded in Britain's schools between 2007 and 2011. Data from 90 areas showed 87,915 cases of racist bullying, with Birmingham recording the highest number of incidents at 5,752, followed by Leeds with 4,690. Carmarthenshire had the lowest number with just 5 cases. Many areas including Luton, Oldham, Croydon, Bedford and Middlesbrough saw an increase of 40% or more over the period 2007/08 to 2009/10, whilst in Cardiff, there was a 32% increase in cases of racism in schools.

Not surprisingly, some commentators believe that racism is on the rise again in Britain, and the tragic and violent death of Bijan Ebrahimi is a stark reminder that hard won gains can be lost without constant vigilance and new ways to catalyse positive social change.

Austerity measures, though, have dramatically reduced the capacity of the BAME voluntary sector to hold the Government and other institutions to account, stimulate evidence-based debate, provide practical help to individuals and promote fairness. Area-based initiatives, which sustained many local organisations, have been all but dismantled. According to new research by the Third Sector Research Centre, managers and employees in BAME organisations feel their work is less valued than previously in the current political context. Faith groups on the other have been thriving in many communities.

So does the BAME sector have to offer anything distinctive in the 21st century? Many have struggled to compete in contract and service driven markets, unable to provide economies of scale or adequately differentiate their activities. Those engaged in advocacy have done so on the back of support for service delivery. Yet, whilst service provision might not necessarily offer a differentiator for some organisations, advocacy clearly can.

But scaling up advocacy is not straightforward and requires some creative thinking by the sector. It is profoundly very different from service delivery, particularly in terms of securing outcomes. Services can generate atomised and measureable successes but “in advocacy well designed efforts often fail, scaled-up efforts often have no more success than smaller ones, and replication of previously successful models doesn’t always lead to success” (Teles and Schmitt, 2011).

One of the big challenges facing the BAME sector is also a generational one. How do 2nd and 3rd generation young people perceive and think about racism and equality today? Is there a critical mass of young people picking up the mantle of championing economic and social justice?

Each generation needs to define its own challenges, and maybe if there is a lasting legacy from the struggles of the 1960s and 1970s and the subsequent progress, it is to ensure that a generation with new ideas and energy picks up the baton. And from the ‘click to change the world’ generation, we may just see the revitalisation of the BAME sector – and probably not as we currently know it.

This Message Is For Young Black Men Of African, Caribbean And Mixed Origin Aged 16-25 Years Of Age

Sep 09, 2013 - Comments: 0

Join us at the BEX Live Routes2Success Future Entrepreneurs Workshop 11am-1pm Saturday

21st September, Birmingham Town Hall

My charity, the Black Training and Enterprise Group, cares about the future of all young people in this country because young people deserve to have opportunities to fulfil their potential and develop their talents. The statistics show that the chances of young black men being successful in education and employment are not high compared to other groups of people. There are more young black men unemployed than employed. This is wrong but how do we change this situation and what can you do to help yourself?

President Obama recently said that young black men are ‘painted with a broad brush’ compared to other young men in America. This portrayal of young black men links to drugs and crime, unemployment and aggression. The negative stereotypes of young black men impact on their job prospects - what do you think?

In our country young black men find it harder to get work; are more likely to be stopped and search and to end up in prison. Hard working young black men have told me they don’t want to be another ‘statistic’.

You may fit into one of four situations at the moment:

  • At 6th form, college or university
  • At work (hopefully with good prospects and receiving further training apprenticeship)
  • Not in employment, education or training (NEET) or
  • Looking for work or planning to start your own business.

If you are studying and have a clear career goal in mind - well done. Keep working hard and think about joining our Routes2Success (R2S) network. Just make sure you are taking the right subjects and courses to get to your chosen destination. Do you know someone in the occupation that you plan to enter who can give you some useful advice?

If you are frustrated with your situation; have been in the criminal justice system or are just are not sure what to do to get to the next level, then get involved with Routes2Success. Now is the time to do something different to help yourself. Many young black men do succeed, so there is nothing to stop you succeeding - except yourself. Some people may want to hold you back but no matter how difficult your situation is there will be choices for you to take - make the best choices for you.

There is no quick fix. You are going to have to make the effort and put in the hard work. Everyone has something to offer - ideas, commitment, knowledge, personality, communication skills, integrity and willingness to learn. What do you have to offer?

My charity wants to work with you and help you to network with successful people. We now have a volunteer force of successful black men that want to connect with you. They want to inspire you to do the very best for yourself by sharing their experiences of work and business. These role models have been chosen by young black men. We believe it’s time to invest in talented young black men. Remember - we just want you to be successful at whatever you choose to do.

Come and meet successful entrepreneurs and share your ideas at our R2S networking event. We also want to hear about what you want to do with your life chances. All you have to do is book a place and come along You will not be disappointed.

Routes2Success recruits 20 volunteer role models

Aug 30, 2013
Routes2Success recruits 20 volunteer role models and begins to engage with local organisations across the UK to inspire young Black males of African, Caribbean and Mixed origin
Jamie Rodney & Anthony Henry (R2S Role Models)

Jamie Rodney & Anthony Henry (R2S Role Models)

The Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) is delighted to announce that we have now recruited 20 enthusiastic, motivated and successful black professional men across the UK who are willing to commit and volunteer their time to make a difference to the next generation. We are hoping to attract more attention from even more successful black men who will come on board as a Routes2Success role model.

On Saturday 29th June 2013, we held our first Role Model Induction Training Day, it was a very successful day with many of the role models leaving feeling ready to inspire the next generation.

Feedback was very positive from the event and we are hoping to induct our second batch of role models in September.

The second R2S Role Model Recruitment event hosted by BTEG at The Drum in Birmingham on Monday 8th July 2013, the event entitled ‘You can make a difference to the future of young black males’ was a another successful evening with many of the successful black professional men wanting to engage with the programme.

BTEG have now been engaging with local and statutory organisations who work with young black males between the ages of 11-25, so that they can use R2S role models to go out and inspire them to reach their full potential in education, employment and entrepreneurship. It is refreshing and encouraging to see the responses flooding in from local youth groups in boroughs across London and areas in England such as Liverpool; as well as Young Offender Institutions and Children’s Homes who want to engage in the Routes2Success Programme in order to help young black men that they work with. If you are a local organisation that wants to be a part of the programme please get in touch!

We are taking part in Birmingham’s BEX Live event on Saturday 21st September 2013, at Birmingham Town Hall. BTEG are giving young black men (aged 16-25) the opportunity to meet three successful entrepreneurs through the Routes2Success programme who will inspire them, give them advice and tips about how to start up and run a successful business and even give them the opportunity to pitch their own business ideas. Also, look out for up and coming events for Black History Month featuring BTEG’s R2S role models in London and Manchester.

Young people need to have aims

Mar 25, 2013 - Comments: 0

Aspirations, desires or ambitions are essential for the direction that young people take their lives.  Young people need to have aims which will guide them on their educational and career paths. The lack of suitable aspirations is an important factor in the under-representation of BAME young people in desirable and well-rewarded jobs.

BAME voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises have a long track record of helping young people to realise their full potential. As community leaders and parents we want young people to make the fullest use of their capabilities, but for some reason, there is still a distinct lack of progression on the social mobility ladder.

Is what we are offering as a sector still appropriate to what BAME young people need and want? Are we listening to the real issues stifling their progression? Are BAME organisations equipped to manage this change?

Many funders rightly want to see young people shaping provision. Importantly young people hold a wide range of views about how much emphasis to place on ethnicity – some see place and deprivation as bigger determinants of future opportunities. The issue is complex but we have to listen to their views and work together to develop and improve our provision.

BTEG has been exploring these issues from an organisational perspective but also the young person’s view point with a focus on education, employment and enterprise. We need to dig deeper and so we have put together a free event - Knowing the Needs. Providing the Services – that will explore these issues in detail. For more information click here

Police & Crime Commissioners: update for the sector

Sep 05, 2012 - Comments: 0

A full list of confirmed candidates so far standing for PCC elections is available at the Police Foundation website. Go to to track candidates for your area.

Nominations close on 19th October 2012 and elections will be held on 15th of November 2012. Voters must be registered by 31st October to exercise their vote for the PCC elections.

In July 2012, the government released £2.6 million to help disabled people overcome barriers to becoming elected officials. The 10 million disabled people in the UK are under-represented in public life and this is an attempt to level the playing field. The fund will help meet additional costs such as extra transport or sign-language interpreters. Offers of individual grants between £250 and £10,000 will be made available to disabled people who want to be selected as candidates for PCC election. An online training package developed by BYG Systems Ltd. ( ) covers how to become an elected representative, communications skills and working with the public and media. Both the fund and the training are part of the government’s access to elected office strategy.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Panel was formed in July 2012 and its first elected Chair is the Leader of Sandwell MBC, Councillor Darren Cooper. The PCP is now looking to co-opt two independent members. Further information available here

There are several opportunities for a range of BAME-led voluntary sector organisations to influence their PCCs: It important to understand the links between health and crime. It is estimated that 90% of offenders have mental health problems and 44% of violent crime is alcohol related. Health and Wellbeing boards will be important partners to PCCs, and through Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) and the Joint Health and Well-being Strategies (JHWSs) will influence the commissioning of local health and care services. Through the PCC Office the Local Community Safety Fund will be used to co-commission initiatives that tackle drugs problems, reducing re-offending and community safety. The BAME-led voluntary sector organisations has an opportunity to influence PCCs and ensure that the health and crime related needs of BAME groups are understood.

A selection of PCC events for the sector include:

19th September A PCC event for women’s organisations based in the South- East and London areas, organised by Eaves:

26th September Voluntary Action Leeds

18th October Police and Crime Commissioner Question Time, organised by Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum

The BAME sector and the media - be prepared for the attention!

Aug 07, 2012 - Comments: 0

The black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) voluntary and community sector struggles to influence the national media. On the rare occasions when we do have some success we are often unprepared for the media interest. A recent example for BTEG was a speech made by Nick Clegg which pointed to racial bias in banking (evidence for this was taken from a BTEG publication). We received up to 10 calls from the national media in one morning and appeared on radio and TV the same day. Nearly all of the journalists wanted to speak to individuals that had experienced discrimination when applying for a loan from the bank. This proved very difficult to arrange and BTEG was simply not prepared for the media interest. In future, the BAME sector needs to be proactive and work together. .

BTEG has sent out many press releases over the past 20 years on unemployment, young people, educational attainment and parents. We do need to work together to improve our ability to get our message (the need to tackle growing race inequalities) across effectively. Perhaps the one area we can improve is to develop an evidence base to demonstrate how racism manifests itself in our every day experiences. We think we have to be systematic about this and produce a robust library of case studies. You will know from your own experience that journalists often connect more with individual stories rather than statistics showing long standing racial disadvantage.

BTEG has started to develop a small library of case studies and developed a case study proforma to be circulated to appropriate users, to a mix of people from our communities in terms of gender, faith and disability who are willing to speak to the media, if necessary. We are happy to share the template and our experiences in collecting case studies:

BTEG is not the only organisation to stress the need for and collect evidence in order to make our case stronger. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community is calling for written evidence for its inquiry into ethnic minority female unemployment.

I think this is very important for our communities and our organisations. Please contact BTEG if you have evidence to share or would like to discuss this with me or with any of my colleagues.

"Blind marking" urged to raise exam score of pupils from ethnic minorities

Jul 31, 2012 - Comments: 0

Interesting article Sunday's Observer that says:

Ministers are seeking to introduce "blind marking" of pupils' schoolwork by teachers as part of a push to tackle a history of underachievement among black and ethnic minority groups, while banks will be required to carry out ethnic monitoring of people to whom they lend money.

The article - which quotes BTEG reseach - can be read in full here

Urgent need for more action to stop the killing of young black males

Mar 14, 2012 - Comments: 0

The recent deaths of more young black men in London and other parts of the country are tragic and disgraceful. Black communities must do more to stop the killing in our neighbourhoods. Society is becoming immune to these outrageous and mindless acts of violence. Distraught and traumatised families are left devastated and heartbroken, and often with no explanation as to why another young person placed no value on their son’s life.

The acts of a tiny minority tarnish the public’s perception of young black people and the media coverage of young black men is overwhelmingly negative. Black pupils have worked extremely hard over the past eight years and the GCSE or equivalent attainment rate (including maths and English) has jumped from 33% to 54%. This is a success story but one which we hear very little about. Of course we all want to see the rates go much higher and reach the highest achieving Indian and Chinese pupils.

We need stronger communities and neighbourhoods where there are alternatives to gangs, drugs and violence. Strong communities depend on strong values and stable families, good schools, fair policing and good employment prospects. One or all of these are often absent for these boys and young men.

The unemployment rate for young black men is 44 per cent and 20 per cent for young white men.

A survey of 1,052 young men aged 15-18 years in custody (59% white 22% Black 11% Mixed and 6%) found that only 12% of black or minority ethnic young men said they had a job to go to on release - much lower than the 25% of white young men who reported this.

Many boys and young men in these areas think they that have no future prospects and therefore nothing to lose. The absence of role models at home and school does not help, and poverty does not sit well with unrealistic material aspirations. The search for status and somewhere to belong can lead to gang allegiance and someone has to be top dog and be in control of the situation. Many of us don’t understand the mindset of these young people; social and technological changes are so rapid that the generation gap between the young and their parents can seem wider than ever before.

All of us must be prepared to listen to these boys and young men and then see how we find solutions together to end this crisis. Too many families are being destroyed by the violence and lack of hope. I think many black people are prepared to listen and do something about it. We can’t have places where people are scared to walk for fear of being killed, but we do.

The Big Society means nothing in many of these areas because we don’t engage with the individuals and organisations that can access and work with these boys and young men. There is an untapped army of black male volunteers willing to give something back and willing to engage. Throwing money at the problem is not the solution but intelligent investment is. There are ex-offenders and ex-gang members working to turn around young people that are following the road to prison or death and ruing the lives of other people in the process. We need to utilise these black men young and old and we also need those men that are doing well across the occupations.

Black voluntary and community groups are disappearing at the very time they are needed most. They are not winning a share of grants from charitable trusts, lottery, private companies or government. The Black Training and Enterprise Group wants to help reverse this situation and we plan to put in place a volunteer force of black male role models who are prepared to go out into communities, into prisons and young offender institutions, schools and pupil referral units and find way to connect with young people so that they can see a way out and a better future. We need more young people to step forward and take responsibility for their actions and their futures but they must be met half way by those that are charged with providing services and local employers that all too often have tended to over look them.

BTEG is conducting a survey to get the views of young males of African, Caribbean or mixed origin because we want them to shape projects and implement them. We can’t rely on the State or the Mayor of London to solve these issues but they do have a role to play and that starts by accepting this problem has been ignored for too long.

I would like to hear your opinions on this subject. Either log in to the comments section on the left, email me at or join the discussion on Twitter #rolemodels4blackmales

Jeremy Crook OBE
Director of Black Training and Enterprise Group

United we stand, divided we fall

Feb 06, 2012 - Comments: 0

What can make a collaboration work? Collaboration is a word that has been bandied around, sometimes with a great amount of passion, for several years. It is something that has been encouraged by funders and, more recently, almost forced on some organisations by the cuts and the difficult economic climate. But what can make or break a collaboration?

Pulling together a group of people with a whole array of skills, backgrounds and passions is not easy, especially if they are all leaders!

I believe that practical things such as the mission, structures, incentives, ideas, specialism, technology etc are crucial ingredients in the mix. But without one key ingredient the collaboration is unlikely to succeed. That ingredient is trust.

However, the trust has to begin within each individual organisation.

A good leader will ensure that there is transparency. By being open with your own staff and clearly explaining ‘the plan’, you will gain trust and support.

A good leader will understand the implications for all employees. This does mean all. Not just the people that you work closely with but even those that you occasionally pass in the corridor or don’t have much contact with because they are part-time or because they sit too far away. There will be a lot of fears and anxieties, which if not dealt with could be costly. The trust dynamic has also changed as more and more contracts are short term rather than permanent leaving less time to build trustworthy relationships.

Large institutions have faced meltdowns because there have been far too many unknowns, ad-hoc forecasting and development of internal ‘groups’. Trust is multi-dimensional and once broken is hard to repair.

Now and then good sense breaks out and allows trust and collaboration to begin. Trust (like distrust) is contagious. It is carried socially and can flourish when enough people in a given population show willing.

It is only when the trust is visible within individual organisations that any collaboration can stand a chance to flourish or indeed even survive. Get the trust in there, then the listening, engaging, sharing and delivering will happen much more effortlessly.

Trust is essential and valuable, but for too many organisations and for too many leaders not nearly enough effort is displayed.

CJS Blog on Children and Young People in Custody (2010- 2011)

Oct 27, 2011 - Comments: 0

BTEG CJS Blog- on Children and Young People in Custody (2010-11) 

Half term, and the one day I am in the office will be a busy one.

Yesterday, sitting in the hairdressers in Wood Green with the kids, I read the Guardian headline that '40%' of Youth Jail population were black. This was the headline grabber from the Chief Inspectors of Prisons report into the state of our youth offending institutions. I haven't read the report yet, so cannot comment on the detail but it confirms two things that I have felt in my water doing this job over the past 3 months: firstly, race is a huge issue in the CJS; and secondly, the CJS is in denial as to what a huge factor it is in changing the system for the better.

Some useful links;

Young black men make up four in 10 of youth jail population

Children and Young People in Custody (2010- 2011)


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