Organisations receiving grants from Black Lives Matter UK say the funding will help them build on their vital work in areas such as domestic violence, mental health and police monitoring.
The anti-racism collective on Wednesday announced plans to give out £600,000 in funding to grassroots groups working for Black communities.
The first round of grants, totalling £169,500, have now been handed out and the second round will follow later this year.
Sistah Space, one of the few Black women’s organisations in London that provides services specifically for Black survivors of domestic violence, has been awarded £10,000 to fund research into these women’s experiences of abuse and accessing help across Britain.
Founder and CEO Ngozi Fulani told HuffPost UK: “To be awarded this funding is both historic and fantabulous.
“That money was donated by the community which is powerful. This is the first time a Black organisation can support a Black organisation and I think that’s worth so much.”
Describing the importance of the data that she seeks to compile, Fulani explained: “We’ve found that there’s limited or virtually no UK statistics [about Black survivors of domestic violence] – they’ve dumped us under the label of ‘BAME’ which is very discriminatory. It takes away our individuality, our culture, and lumps us with everybody who is not middle class white.
“There is a massive divide between African heritage women and girls receiving adequate support, [compared to] their white and Asian counterparts. This funding is important because we have to do our own research. The only way that we can tackle this is from the inside and we have to change policies.”
The funding will also help Sistah Space to set up a training programme to teach mainstream abuse support charities and mainstream audiences about the unique cultural sensitivities needed to support Black survivors.
“Our organisation speaks to things others couldn’t possibly know about. For example, only we know what it is like if your perpetrator is a Black man – [in that event] we have to think two, three, four times before we report him because that could mean his death or serious injury, or it could perhaps bring down deportation,” Fulani said.
“There’s so many things we have to consider before reporting abuse and so most of the time we don’t.”
Based in Hackney, the group recently underwent a high profile battle with the council to keep their premises and continue their work which has become all the more urgent during lockdown. Fortunately, Sistah Space has now secured a new home in Hackney, at a reduced rate, under a year’s lease.
All Black Lives (ABL), a newly-founded Black activist group which helped to organise Black Lives Matter protests across the country in the summer of 2020, is receiving a grant of £5,000.
The money will go towards funding an annual event celebrating Black cultures through food, art and music. In the longer term, ABL is planning to unveil a Black therapists project to providing emotional and mental support for Black communities.
This will be in the form of a directory of therapists who will offer group sessions on social media – to account for Covid regulations while ensuring accessibility – as well as one-to-one sessions.
ABL was co-founded by university students Tasha Johnson, Aima and Tyrek Morris, and the group is in the process of becoming a Community Interest Company (CIC).
Describing the money as an “important start”, Morris told HuffPost UK: “Seeing deaths like George Floyd’s on the internet, experiencing day-to-day racism as a Black person is traumatic.
“The way most people deal with trauma is to try and ignore it and that causes a lot of long-term issues with people’s mental health.
“We want to address that and break down the stigma by giving our Black supporters and the community the chance to heal, come together.”
Learning that BLM UK would be awarding ABL with the grant came as a shock to 21-year-old Morris.
“A lot of people were questioning where the money would be going. When I got the call it was a big relief for us. It’s not easy, organising around anti-racism without funding,” he said.
“The fact that BLM, an established group, is supporting ABL is not only a testament to the work we’re doing but shows that people out there appreciate it.”
Northern Police Monitoring Project (NPMP), an independent campaigning organisation centred around police harassment and violence, will receive £11,000 to pay for a “know your rights” training project in Greater Manchester.
Working with over-policed communities since 2012, the organisation has been campaigning against racism in policing and addressing matters relating to stop and search, police brutality, police in schools and the collection of biometric data.
Remi Joseph-Salisbury – part of NPMP’s steering group – told HuffPost UK the grant was “really exciting and encouraging”.
“We’ve been growing quickly over the last couple of years, particularly through responding to the policing of lockdown, and supporting people who’ve been affected by over-policing,” he said.
“We’ve also been working on the No Police in Schools campaign that we’re leading alongside Kids of Colour and others, and are members of Resistance Lab, where we’re working specifically towards the abolition of Tasers. The lockdown has only heightened the urgency of the issues we’re working to combat, and so this funding is really welcome and timely.
“We are an abolitionist group – we do not believe police reform is sufficient, and we are committed to building a society that doesn’t see policing as the solution to social problems. For this reason, we’ve often been overlooked for funding.”
The “know your rights” training has been requested by young people who engage with NPMP and the funding is expected to last for one year, Salisbury added. It is geared towards helping members of the community, particularly young people of colour, to better understand their rights when they encounter the police.
“This is about placing the police under closer scrutiny. We know there is a long history of racist policing in the UK that has impacted particularly harshly upon Black communities,” said Joseph-Salisbury – a presidential fellow in ethnicity and inequalities at the University of Manchester.
“The workshops and resources we’re developing are about raising awareness, and ensuring that young people are as well equipped as possible to deal with police encounters. This work is about building links that can enhance police monitoring, by encouraging young people to report policing practices to monitoring groups like ours.
“Vitally, for us, the work occurs alongside our work that focuses on policing as an institution, an institution underpinned by racism. As such, we see know your rights workshops as a survival tool within a wider abolitionist movement.”