Read our advice for best practice when working with black and minority ethnic communities.
Valuing People Now (2009), the government's three year strategy for people with a learning disability, emphasises the need to make specific adjustments to ensure that the needs of the most excluded groups are met - including people from BME groups and newly arrived communities.
- Mir, G; Nocon, A: Ahmad, W: Jones, L, (2001) Learning Difficulties and Ethnicity. Department of Health.
- Emerson E, Hatton C, (2004) Estimating future need/demand for support for adults with learning disabilities in England. Lancaster University.
- Hatton C, Akram Y, Shah R, Robertson J, Emerson E, (2004) Supporting South Asian Families with a Child with Severe Disabilities. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
- (2006) Reaching Out, Mencap.
England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Human Rights Act 1998
Under the Human Rights Act 1998, it is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way that is incompatible with a person's human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The Racial Equality Strategy will help to secure the human rights of all people, regardless of their racial group, under the ECHR and the UK's other international obligations.
England and Wales
Single Equality Bill
The government published a single Equality Bill for Great Britain in April 2009. It completed its Commons Committee stage on 7 July, and Royal Assent is expected in spring 2010. If passed, it will replace nine major pieces of legislation and around 100 statutory instruments and bring disability, sex, race and other grounds of discrimination within one piece of legislation. The bill does not apply to Northern Ireland.
Race Relations Amendment Act 2000
The Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 was enacted in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry to tackle the problem of institutional racism. A key point from the inquiry was that a ‘colour blind' approach of applying the same rules to everyone, regardless of race, was failing to address the disadvantages suffered by ethnic minorities. As a result, the inquiry recognised that organisational practices, structures and policies were treating ethnic minorities unfairly and less equally, often without intention of knowledge. The Act places a duty on most public authorities to eliminate race discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and good relations between all racial groups.
Equality Act 2006
The main provision of the Equality Act 2006 was to establish a single Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR). The act introduced a positive duty on public sector bodies to promote equal opportunities, and to harmonise sex equality law with the current Race Relations Amendment Act and the changes to the Disability Discrimination Act.
Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006
The Racial and Religious Hatred Act was designed to stop hatred against people because of their religion, not just their race.
Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 (amended)
These regulations outlaw discrimination (direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation) in employment and vocational training on the grounds of religion or belief.
Welsh Language Act 1993
The Welsh Language Act 1993 establishes the Welsh Language Board, whose remit is to promote and facilitate the use of the Welsh language. It requires public bodies to prepare Welsh language schemes to take account of the language in its business and administration.
The Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order
The Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 (the RRO) outlaws discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origin. It also says that segregation on racial grounds constitutes discrimination..The Irish Traveller community is specifically identified in the RRO as a racial group which is protected against unlawful racial discrimination.
The Northern Ireland Act 1998
Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 requires departments and other public authorities to promote equality of opportunity between people of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation and between people with and without a disability.
The Single Equality Bill
The government in Northern Ireland is currently developing proposals for a Single Equality Bill that will join all anti-discrimination and equality law into one bill.
Specialist services or mainstreaming
Tackling the issue of inequality faced by BME communities should remain a priority. However, recent government policy has also tried to address the issue of integration, and how to ensure services meet the needs of individual BME communities whilst also encouraging integration and cohesion of communities.
To translate or not to translate
The majority of research with BME communities shows that language is a barrier. However, guidance for local authorities on translation of publications (2007) discourages translation as a substitute for learning English and states it should be reduced, except where it builds integration and cohesion.
While many organisations have produced information in community languages, there has sometimes been little uptake from the communities they are aimed at. There are also many decisions to be made at the point of translation - including what to translate, which languages to choose and how to ensure the quality of translation. Despite these issues, translation is usually an investment for any organisation.
Working with migrant communities
Around half of the non-white population in 2001 were Asians of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or other Asian origin. A further quarter were black, and fifteen per cent of the non-white population were from the mixed ethnic group. As a result, many BME projects and research has concentrated on South Asian and black families. Mencap, the National Advisory Group for Learning Disability and Ethnicity (NAGLDE) and Valuing People Now recognise the need for the inclusion of other migrant communities.
Hatton, C, (2007) Improving services for people with learning disabilities from minority ethnic communities: The second national survey of Partnership Boards: Listings of good practice and contact details.
Mencap's approach is to mainstream race equality and work with people from BME communities throughout the organisation. We are also developing specialist projects where there are areas of need or demand, or gaps in service provision, to develop and contribute to good practice.
Our approach is to work in partnership with other organisations to ensure that people from BME communities have access to a wide range of service provision.
How we work with others
Mencap is a member of the National Advisory Group on Learning Disability and Ethnicity. (NAGLDE). We work with Mencap affiliated groups, many BME community organisations, learning disability support groups and Valuing People.
In collaboration with ARC we have supported the publication of Services for All. We work in partnership with organisations such as ARC and BILD to develop successful bids to tackle race inequalities for people with a learning disability from black and minority ethnic groups.
Who to contact
Many people with a learning disability and their families are interested in accessing services in their local area, and some services or projects have been run or adapted specifically to respond to the needs of families from BME communities.
- The Learning Disability Helpline offers a translation service called Language Line for anyone whose first language is not English. Just call the helpline on 0808 808 1111 and tell the operator which language you need. The operator will ask for your contact details so they can call you back. They will then contact Language Line and you will be able to talk to the operator through an interpreter. This is a three way process.
- Midland Mencap runs several projects to support BME families in the Birmingham area including the Reaching Out Carers project. For further information, please contact Satpal Badhan on Satpal.Badhan@midlandmencap.org.uk
- Wandsworth Mencap works in partnership with a black family carers group as well as running a monthly support group for all carers of people with a learning disability. For further information please contact Chris Albury or Ann Johnston on 020 874 8178.