Dispelling the myth of coronavirus ‘the great leveller’

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BAME community organisations are reporting a rising demand for services, a lack of financial security and a desperate need for support

Article by Lucy Gilbert, Head of Policy

The Coronavirus crisis has brought upheaval to the whole of the UK. But while the virus and measures to contain it affect us all, for some people the impact is worse than for others. Women, people on low incomes and people with disabilities are all among those who are likely to suffer most in the crisis.

Widely reported in the press, we will all have seen the reports that people from black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) communities too are being disproportionately affected. A report by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre found that 35% of critically ill Coronavirus patients have been from BAME backgrounds, nearly triple the 13% proportion for the UK population as a whole.

This is for a range of reasons: the poverty rate is twice as high for BAME communities than for white groups, placing people at greater risk due to factors like underlying health conditions, and overcrowded and poor housing. But employment is also a big factor: one report shows that more than a third of Black Africans of working age are employed in key worker roles, for example, front line roles which place them at greater risk.

So this virus is not a ‘great leveller’ and the consequences are not the same for everyone. There is a danger that as we emerge from the crisis, the inequalities in our society will be worse than ever.  

People living in more deprived areas of England and Wales are more likely to die with coronavirus than those in more affluent places, new figures suggest.

Office for National Statistics analysis shows there were 55 deaths for every 100,000 people in the poorest parts of England, compared with 25 in the wealthiest areas.

Mortality rates are normally higher in poorer areas. But the ONS said coronavirus appeared to be adding to the problem.

Here at Quartet, we’re working hard to support a future society that will be fairer for everyone. We know that trusted, community-led groups are in the best position to reach vulnerable people who would otherwise fall through the gaps. But many of these organisations are struggling for funding and are at very real risk of closure.

In Bristol, for example, more than half of BAME community organisations are very small, with incomes under £25,000 per year. Like other small community groups, they are reporting a rising demand for services, a lack of financial security and a desperate need for support. But with competition for funding already fierce, these organisations can face barriers to accessing funding that mean they often miss out. Research suggests that as many as 90% of these organisations will close permanently if they don’t receive urgent support.

To help address barriers in the short term, last week we awarded the Black South West Network and a partnership of more than ten small BAME-led organisations a grant of £10,000. This funding will go towards providing a supply of culturally-appropriate emergency food packages to BAME families in Bristol’s underserved communities during this crisis period.

And as part of our commitment to improving access to support for these groups for the longer term, last year Quartet joined a pioneering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coalition of 16 national funding organisations, including the National Lottery and BBC Children in Need. We are working hard to make sure our funding can be accessed by the widest possible range of community groups and that support reaches everyone who needs it during this crisis and beyond.

·         Read what the Black SouthWest Network say about claims Covid 19 is ‘the great leveller’:

‘We are not all in this together’ : https://www.blacksouthwestnetwork.org/bswn-statement-on-the-racial-divide-of-covid-19

·         Visit the Black SouthWest Network’s dedicated Covid19 page where any Black and Asian led organisations and businesses can get in touch to find out about working in partnership, opportunities and useful information: https://www.blacksouthwestnetwork.org/notice-board