Southall Black Sisters has been helping empower black and ethnic minority women since 1979. The work they do – on issues as wide-ranging as ‘honour’ crimes, domestic violence and depression – is invaluable, but is now under threat because Ealing council has decided to withdraw its funding.
The local authority’s decision is based on the view that there is no need for specialist services for black and minority women and those services to abused women in the borough need to be streamlined. This view fails to take account of the unequal social, economic and cultural context which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for black and minority women to access outside help or seek information about their rights. In effect the council proposes to take away essential life saving services provided by SBS. Ealing council suggests that we either extend our service to cover the needs of all women in the borough or that we set up a consortium of groups to provide such a service for the same sum of money.
Since the mid eighties our ‘core’ funding has been provided by Ealing. Over the years we have on average received £100,000 per annum from the local authority and this is utilised to provide advice, advocacy, counselling and support services to black and minority women in the borough who experience violence and abuse. The experience and insights gained through this work has led us to become a strategically important service, providing advice on policy and legal developments to government, and international, national and local organisations and professionals. The Ealing grant has, of course, had to be supplemented by funds raised elsewhere.
The group is calling for supporters to contact the council and voice our discontent with this decision. The person to contact is: