Why Are Black & Minority Ethnic Communities Losing Out On UK Funding?

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Piggy Banks

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) are hosting an event on 24th February 2015 called Manchester’s Diverse Communities. This event is specifically aimed at Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in Manchester.

We spoke with Maya Sharma, a Development Officer in HLF’s North West office, about the motivation behind the event and her views on why BAME communities might be losing out on vital funding.


What is the Heritage Lottery Fund?
Heritage Lottery Fund distributes grants for heritage projects in the UK. We take money raised from the National Lottery and make grants to organisations to run heritage projects. Our job is to make sure this public money is spent well on projects that celebrate the UK’s heritage.

My role as a Development Officer is to provide information and guidance to people who are thinking of applying for HLF funding. I’m very pleased to say that I don’t judge applications nor do I make decisions; I do the fun stuff: getting out and about and promoting our different grant programmes; helping people develop strong applications and organising events promoting our funding to specific communities. A big part of my job is helping people to understand which of our grant programmes might fit their project best and giving feedback on how we might view their project.


You have an event coming up, ‘Manchester’s Diverse Heritage’, what is this event about?
Our event on 24th February 2015 is aimed at Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in Manchester with an interest in heritage.
The aim is to:
• Showcase BAME heritage projects and inspire people to run their own
• Introduce Manchester’s museums and archives, who can talk about how they support BAME community groups in heritage activities
• Share information about HLF funding
• Offer the opportunity for an informal chat with HLF about project ideas


Why are you holding this event, what do you hope it will achieve?
We know that BAME communities are keen to explore and celebrate their heritage and its contribution to the story of Manchester. We want to inspire and encourage people to think about running their own heritage projects. We also want people to see how local museums and archives can help with this – many have objects and documents that may be very relevant to BAME communities and they can often contribute to projects by providing training, support and guidance.
Lastly, we want people to learn about HLF funding and see it as an opportunity for their groups and communities.


Who do you hope will attend the event?
Our target audience is people from BAME communities, and as we can’t make grants to individuals, we hope that they will be part of community groups. It should also be of interest to anyone with an interest in the diverse heritage of Manchester and as it’s a free drop-in event, the more the merrier!


Why is it important for BAME organisations to access Heritage Lottery Fund services?
Our main service is funding and we want to make sure that Lottery money is distributed fairly and that all communities in the UK get their share. Our monitoring tells us that we receive less applications from BAME community groups and therefore less money goes to BAME communities. We want to make sure that all communities have the chance to tell their stories and explore their heritage and we hope that events like this one will encourage a greater range of applications.
I think it’s also important that groups know that we can give support in the early stages of making an application – the Development Team is here to give guidance and feedback before a full application is made and this help can often increase an applicant’s chance of success.


Why do you think BAME organisations are reluctant to apply for funding?
I think our systems could put people off: like many funders we ask for online applications which some people can struggle with. I think people often feel unconfident about presenting their ideas in writing but I always say “our Grants Officers are not here to correct spelling or grammar – they are interested in the ideas you have and actually prefer simple plain language!”.

I also think that the word “heritage” can put people off too: it’s often taken to mean old buildings, Kings, Queens, the Magna Carta…major events and wars. While these are all part of our heritage so are community stories and memories; traditional practices and customs: “everyday” heritage. Perhaps BAME organisations think we don’t see their heritage as part of the UK’s heritage; this is not the case! We are very clear that BAME heritage is an intrinsic part of UK heritage.


Tell us about some past successes you had working with BAME organisations?
There are so many that it’s hard to pick out one! Come along to the event and find out more. You’ll be able to talk to young people who interviewed elders in their community about traditional festivals, a community who set up their own archive, a group who celebrated the life of one of their community leaders, and much more.

Successful heritage projects have the ability to connect people to their roots and help them feel a sense of pride. They encourage communication between generations and across other divides, helping people understand each other better. They also encourage people to connect more with where they live and contribute to community life. Successful projects will also involve people who might not normally get involved in heritage activities; they often give people skills to investigate and explore their heritage themselves rather than letting professionals and experts take the lead.


Finally, for people who are interested in heritage projects or HLF funding what should they do to get more information about HLF services?
First of all, have a look at our website www.hlf.org.uk/about-us. There’s a lot of information on there, including a list of our grant programmes, examples of HLF-funded projects, and information about the changes we want to see heritage projects bring about. If you have a project idea you could fill in a project enquiry – give us an outline of the project you’d like to run and we’ll give you some feedback. Alternatively, pick up the phone and give us a call on 0161 200 8470 or email us at [email protected]


For time and venue details about the upcoming HLF event, Manchester Diverse Communities, click here Event Details


We’d love to hear your views on the issues raised in this article. Are black and minority community groups and charities losing out on funding? Why are these groups applying in fewer numbers? Do you have a story of success working with HLF? Let us know in the comments below.

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