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Race charity set to close

PUBLISHED: 16:53 21 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:52 12 August 2010

Bromley
20-05-08
Bromley Racial Equality Council may close
Ali Jafaray

Bromley 20-05-08 Bromley Racial Equality Council may close Ali Jafaray

A RACIAL equality council is set to close unless it receives emergency funding. Bromley Racial Equality Council (BREC), in Penge High Street,

A RACIAL equality council is set to close unless it receives emergency funding.

Bromley Racial Equality Council (BREC), in Penge High Street, had its funding by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) slashed in April.

Bromley council is refusing to provide the £50,000 shortfall the charity needs to exist until the end of the financial year. And, so far, no other sponsor has offered up money.

BREC chief executive Ali Jafarey said: "It was devastating when we found out. We provide an essential service to people who have been victims of racial discrimination and we have improved community cohesion massively.

"We are only asking the council for funding until the end of the year so we have a chance to try and find alternative money but so far we have been turned down by everyone.

"The council and others will definitely feel the pinch when we're gone. We have been here for nearly 20 years. It's been hard work but we have become a credible organisation.

"It's very worrying because nobody else is offering the same service in Bromley. There will be nowhere for people to go. We don't have the option of staying open just a few days.

"There is no medial action, we will have to close. It would be OK if we'd reached that magical time when racism doesn't exist but we haven't."

BREC deals with around 300 enquiries per year and a full-time caseworker works with around 60 individuals per year, in the same way a solicitor would.

At an executive meeting of Bromley council on Monday, leader of the opposition John Getgood, asked how the council can show its commitment to community cohesion in the light of the likely closure.

He said: "The council has been criticised in the past for its lack of interest in minority groups. Allowing an organisation like this to go to the wall will not improve relations. Words are very easy but there needs to be a more active interest in organisations such as BREC. We should be working with them, not marginalising them. Bromley council has made it clear that it has little sympathy for BREC and reinforced their stance at the meeting that they will not provide funding."

Bromley council were unavailable for comment as we went to press. There are around 60 race equality councils (REC) across the country. Kingston REC was also denied funding but Kingston council footed the bill to keep the service going.

In 2003, the Bexley Council for Racial Equality was under threat when its £49,000 funding was cut. They were saved at the eleventh hour by Bexley council with an 'emergency package' to keep services going.

katherine.nelson@archant.co.uk

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