BLOG SERIES: Perspectives on the pandemic
More than a year on from the launch of the National Emergencies Trust’s Coronavirus Appeal on 18 March 2020, we have asked our incredible funding partners – and some of their incredible grant-making partners – to share their unique perspectives on the pandemic
Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG)
by Phoebe Georgestone, Project Support Officer
What difference has the pandemic made to the communities you serve?
Covid-19 has had a disproportionately negative impact on communities experiencing racial inequality, where a large proportion of individuals occupy public-facing/ key-worker roles which has led to an increased exposure to the virus, heightened anxiety, stressful situations for their families, and sadly disproportionate numbers dying from Covid. Black and minoritised young people have suffered a loss of schooling and the move to online learning has caused some pupils to fall behind due to ‘digital poverty’ (a lack of laptops/ technology/ Wi-Fi etc). The economic fallout, lack of job opportunities, and string of government lockdowns has had a significant negative impact on the mental health of young people.
What impact did you see on your services as a result?
BTEG was directly impacted by Covid. A number of our programmes – particularly our role model work in schools – could not take place. Funding was paused and some staff furloughed. Everyone moved to work from home. This was not a situation that we were geared up for in terms of resources (laptops/work phones). We had to reallocate funds to facilitate new working conditions. Even once schools reopened, delivery was slow as schools had to catch up rather than welcome external visitors/initiatives.
How has funding from the Coronavirus Appeal, via Comic Relief’s Global Majority Fund, made a difference?
The funding has allowed us to support small organisations led by and for different ethnicities to keep their doors during a crucial time of need. It has helped fund activities to improve the mental health of young people, ensure education attainment, keep young people from falling victim to gangs/county lines, support women fleeing from domestic abuse, help communities with food parcels and resources much needed just to get by.
Some funding was also ringfenced to provide organisations with expert consultancy support. This gave organisations the opportunity to really step back and look at what their organisation needs to sustain and grow. This could mean business planning support, bid writing or the opportunity to employ project staff so directors can manage and not deliver services. Amazingly, one of our grantees was successful in winning 8k of further funding as a result of bid-writing support funded by this grant.
What challenges and/or opportunities do you foresee ahead?
We are hearing now about the emerging issues of Covid-19 such as teacher predicted grades, the impact of homeschooling on young people who missed large chunks of learning, the mental health impact etc.
But for the small organisations led by and for different ethnicities we support, they are fearful that funders may feel they’ve “done their bit” and will move on to support other issues and that any funding ring-fenced for communities experiencing racial inequality will cease. Small organisations led by and for different ethnicities often have limited capacity and resources and find it challenging/ near impossible competing against larger mainstream bodies for funding. This frustrates the sector as it has been chronically underfunded in the past and there is a real fear that we will go back to that and all of this great work will be negated.
The National Emergencies Trust partnered with Comic Relief in July 2020 to launch the Global Majority Fund. Find out more here.