A key part of our work is to ensure that the views of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people are considered in service delivery. We very much believe that communities should be given their own voice, and that part of our role is to strengthen that voice as well as helping to make agencies sit up and listen to what they have to say.
‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’
Martin Luther King
We do this by working with communities through our community development service and helping to develop their capacity to be involved in things like consultations on services. We provide training to groups to help them develop their skills and confidence around engaging with public sector and others.
We do however recognise the limitations faced by community groups and therefore we have set up a BME Consultation Panel to make sure that there is an effective consultation mechanism for local public sector agencies. The Panel is made up of Black and Minority Ethnic people from across Cheshire, Halton and Warrington areas who have agreed to get involved and respond to consultation requests. People on this panel come from a wide range of backgrounds, some are active in their community, others are not – but it gives everyone an opportunity to choose their level of involvement. Utilising the panel comes with a cost, but it proven to be a very effective method of engaging a diverse range of communities.
Because of the small numbers of community organisations, it is not always possible to always secure physical representation at the various partnership tables there are. We see it as our role to make sure that the views and concerns raised with us by BME communities are brought to the partnerships we are involved with, and that we disseminate any information we have that affects groups as widely as possible.