Though community businesses exist within the black community, and black community organisations who owned their own premises have been in operation over the past 50 years, it took research by The Ubele Initiative to highlight the degree to which some of these black organisations have lost or been dispossessed of these buildings and community facilities. That research – A Place to Call Home – also revealed that these organisations were not benefiting from the many initiatives directed at encouraging community ownership and management of assets.
The research found out that whilst some of these facilities were owned by communities of interest, they were available for use by a wider diverse range of people and organisations: from the statutory sector for meetings and events to community groups and even by the private sector and individuals. Their activities encompassed different sectors from health and wellbeing sessions for young and older people, after-school clubs, youth clubs, food banks, support for new migrants and more and included activities supporting some of the most excluded and disadvantaged groups.
The loss of these buildings was found to be of huge detriment to the community as a whole, and not least those groups most in need of support. For this loss to be addressed, the report found, there was an urgent need for targeted support, advice, capacity building, organisational development work and investment to help these BAME organisations retain and grow and in some cases gain new premises.
There was also a need for resources and materials, for sustainable business models, effective succession planning to encourage participation of younger people and next-generation leadership to be implemented.
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