Fundraising is something we tend to do as sole campaigners or charities, but in an unusual move, five groups came together to raise funds for BME women's services in the UK last month.
Last month, a fundraising coalition took place over the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. We talked to Bootcamp grad Zlakha, who is also the Director of Apna Haq, a support service in Rotherham for women and girls from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities escaping violence. We talk to her about the organisations response to funding for BME women’s groups being slashed.
It’s brilliant to see organisations building coalitions and fundraising together. How did you build and maintain partnerships with the four organisations?
When the leaders of three charities and social enterprises heard us talk about the current issues BME organisations face, they came together to see how they could support my organisation and others like us across the UK. Five organisations across the country responded to their call. For the past 6 months they worked with us; training us on fundraising, digital comms and storytelling. With our case studies, survivor’s voices and our images, we put together the powerful fundraising video which ran over the 16 Days of Activism to end violence against women.
Why is there a need for funding for organisations that tackle violence against BME women such as Apna Haq?
Women from BME communities face a range of issues in trying to escape domestic and sexual violence. They face not only pressures from their own family and communities, but also lots of impact of racist attitudes and policies that often mean they find it a much harder journey to be able to escape the violence. My organisation, Apna Haq, have provided support to BME women for over 20 years and like many BME organisations across the country, we are now facing an onslaught of losing funding. For example, 50% of BME women’s refuges over the past 10 years have lost their funding and closed. This in effect means an end to the only lifeline many of these women have to ever get out of the horrendous levels of physical, sexual, emotional, financial and coercive control abuse they may be facing.
Was there anything you found particularly important at Bootcamp to bring back and share at your organisation?
The realisation that we have a right to be a campaigning organisation, because of the nature of the work we do. The local council and new organisation that had won funding over Apna Haq said that campaigning was not related to the support of a BME service. Bootcamp made me realise that what we have been doing is right. There is a whole lot of thinking and analysis that one can use to strengthen that activism.
How have you campaigned to raise awareness of funding cuts to BME services?
After having held a local authority contract for delivering domestic violence services to BME women in Rotherham, we lost the contract due to the way services are commissioned to a generic white women’s service. Apna Haq were able to contribute this case study to a report for commissioners, which highlights the issues BME women’s organisations are facing in terms of losing funding across the UK. Imkaan, a London based service, were instrumental in helping us run a petition saying to keep Apna Haq open, that people from all over the UK signed. We then held a rally in central London and handed the petition to 10 Downing Street. At the rally, 250 women of different nationalities and backgrounds, from different towns and cities joined to support us; the rally firmly put Apna Haq on the UK’s feminist organisations map.
What have been some of the pros of your organisation being led by and for BME women?
Apna Haq is a life-saving service, and it is run the best way a women’s service can be – by and for women who understand their community’s needs. The women who run Apna Haq have deep personal understanding of the particular patterns of abuse, the excuses that are made for it, and the barriers to escaping abuse in their community. They understand both the internal pressures on women to stay quiet and remain in abusive relationships, but they also understand how racism by individual workers and structural racism through policies can keep women from gaining safety. We work at all these levels to ensure that BME women are able to leave and gain safety. Many of the women Apna Haq supports then go on to volunteer for Apna Haq, and we have a number of service users on our board.
What could readers do to support BME women experiencing violence?
Seek out appropriate BME services across the UK and encourage them to make contact with them. Like Apna Haq, if we can’t help, they will refer onto another appropriate organisation. You can support our crowdfunding campaign. 100% of your donation (plus gift aid if you are a UK taxpayer!), will be shared amongst all five organisations. We want to raise £150,000 of unrestricted funding to help empower and support more women, and set us up for organisational success in 2019 and beyond.
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