Race Equality Network (REN) is an umbrella group which aims to bring together Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities across Bradford and District.
We work with a vast number of partners, individuals and organisations to provide support, celebrate diversity and campaign for equality.
REN was established in October 2000 as the Consortia of Ethnic Minority Organisations (COEMO) following concerns by BAME voluntary sector organisations that they were not properly supported by local Infrastructure organisations.
Bradford and District has a large but fragmented BAME sector, making it difficult to secure lasting improvements to the quality of life of ethnic minority communities. REN aims to change this.
Who does REN represent?
We work with over 180 organisations.
REN represent the views and aspirations of a multitude of groups across Bradford and District, from long-established communities to new arrivals and migrant communities. We work with over 180 organisations
Refugee and Asylum Seeker
Central and Eastern European
What does REN do?
Working directly with Communities is our top priority.
How REN supports communities.
- We take action against racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism
- We raise the profile of BAME-led organisations
- We provide infrastructure support to BAME organisations
- We influence service providers, funders and other agencies that come in contact with the BAME voluntary sector
- We organise networking & consultation events
- We undertake research activities within the BAME sector
- We act as an advocate for the BAME Voluntary sector and the wider community with local government, central government and other relevant institutions
- We represent the views of the ethnic minority voluntary sector on partnerships and decision-making bodies at local, regional and national levels.
How REN operates
REN is a registered charity and has a written constitution. It is also registered as a company limited by guarantee. The management of the organisation is based on membership, and members annually elects a Management Board. We have an office located at the Grange Interlink Centre and paid members of staff.
REN works closely with other organisations to deliver certain projects.
1. To act as an umbrella group to create, develop and maintain a network of groups and individuals who will act as a focal point for information, advice and support. We will collaborate with key partners and stakeholders to identify, challenge and address issues arising from race inequality, poor community relations, and xenophobia and promote race equality and the fostering of good relations between communities
2. To promote and support any charitable purposes which benefit the black and ethnic minority community, particularly groups involved in the following:
3. To campaign against xenophobia, ethnic, cultural and religious hatred including chauvinism and bigotry and the impact of such behaviour and beliefs on communities and society as a whole.
4. To promote and celebrate the diverse cultural, ethnic, religious, and racial make-up of the Bradford District, and beyond as relevant
5. To take action against racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.
REN has always organised and encouraged large gatherings of BAME organisations in order to disseminate information, conduct consultations and celebrate our collaborative work across Bradford. Such events have included:
- The Working Together conference
- Change Up project conference
- Local Area Agreement seminar
- Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities funding workshops
- Consultation event on the Airedale Masterplan
- Celebrating Community Cohesion in West Yorkshire
In 2019 we launched our Leadership Development Programme. Working with Empowering Minds, REN delivered training to women and young people from diverse ethnicities on issues around cohesion, racism and equality. Phase 2 of this programme is currently being developed, and will provide training on participation on Management Committees and Boards along with other transferable skills.
Activities which indirectly or directly promote race equality and good community relations.
Community development and community capacity building, integration and community cohesion.
The advancement of socio-economic issues and the prevention and elimination of poverty and disadvantage.
Neighbourhood renewal and regeneration, educational and social advancement.
IMPROVING REACH PROGRAMME
As part of the Improving Reach programme at West Yorkshire level, over 80 organisations across Bradford District were supported via workshops and training sessions on Health in the workplace, Employment Law, Disability Rights, Management Committee training and Quality Assurance processes. This programme also carried out work in supporting migrant communities including planning and facilitating Refugee Week.
PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
In 2008 REN pioneered a unique networking opportunity with financial support from West Yorkshire Local Development Agencies, encouraging BAME organisations to come together and establish working partnerships which would strengthen activities and fundraising opportunities. REN advised and provided co-ordination and support with creating these working partnerships.
BCCI COMMUNITY COHESION PROJECT
BCCI Community Cohesion Project – also known as Communities Together saw REN bringing together eight community organisations to deliver activities to promote social cohesion whilst addressing key issues around racism and extremism. 156 activities were delivered through the programme. Partners included Kala Sangam, Milan Centre, Peacemakers International, Thorpe Edge Community Centre, West Bowling Centre, Grange Interlink, Bangladesh Community Association, and Bangladeshi Forum for Community Cohesion.
The “Changing Bradford” book and exhibition was a Heritage Lottery Funded project in which REN recruited and trained up a group of young people as oral history interviewers. These young people undertook interviews which contributed to the book and were exhibited at Bradford’s Impressions Gallery. REN advised and provided co-ordination and support with creating these working partnerships.
This West Yorkshire-wide project saw the partnership of sub-regional infrastructure support organisations delivering 4 specialist strands: Environmental, Support with applying for funding, Marketing and Communications, and Community Cohesion. REN led on Cohesion and worked with faith-based networks and BAME organisations to deliver a range of activities to strengthen community cohesion.
YOUNG PEOPLE INTO MANAGEMENT (YPIM PROJECT)
After identifying a gap in the representation of young people on BAME Management Committees, REN undertook a pilot programme (YPIM) recruiting eight young people from diverse ethnic backgrounds. These young people were mentored by four key individuals from the voluntary sector. These included Jenny Pupius, CEO of ABL; John Corbishley CEO of CNet; Surji Cair, Manager of Milan Centre; and Peter Tate from MAPA. Bradford CVS and BYDP provided formal training to the young people. The programme led to NVQ2 qualifications for the participants.
You can read more about the COVID Prevention Project here:
T&A article on 7th August 2001 about the original launch:
Asian and black community groups are being united under one banner in an attempt to bring cultures together and bridge divides. Membership of the Consortia of Ethnic Minority Organisations (COEMO) has swollen from 40 to 63 groups in the last week. COEMO was officially launched yesterday with leaders saying it was not an attempt to revive the Race Equality Council (REC) under a different name.
Secretary Yusuf Karolia said: “We want to form partnerships, particularly with other umbrella groups. But we are not a threat to other organisations. We have to work with all partners and make a difference to the quality of life of the citizens of Bradford.”
Chairman Mohammed Salam said he hoped that bringing groups together would enable people to share expertise in applying for funding. He said: “It is true that ethnic minority communities have missed out on funding opportunities due to a lack of information, timely advice and development support which is why we felt a need for an organisation such as the Consortia.”
The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Ghazanfer Khaliq, warned delegates at the launch not to focus purely on ethnic minorities to the detriment of the white population. Kanchan Jadeja, Assistant Director of the National Association of the Council for Voluntary Services, said Bradford’s problems meant it could be a target for Government funding.
Kanchan Jadeja said: “People might be scared of Bradford at the moment and might not want to come here but clearly this seems to be an opportune time for this organisation and there are opportunities for groups to put their ideas forward in a very clear and rational way. The response of the Prime Minister initially to what happened in Bradford was because of a level of thuggery. Now the Home Office seems to be saying it wants to look at the deeper problems which caused what happened and there seems to be a level of willingness to find out what communities need and what can be done.”
A unified response
Following months of bringing together the fragmented BAME organisations, REN was now catapulted into developing a sector response to the riots which took place during its first year in operation.
It engaged constructively with the Council, with Ted Cantle’s review and later directly with Home Office officials to develop a longer term response to prevent similar disturbances including helping to shape the Race Equality Act 2010.
Ted Cantle’s review was revealing and he commented that:
“Leadership was different in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham to other areas that we visited in the sense that the local authority and other institutions had been seemingly less committed to a multi-racial, diverse society, and perhaps had been less willing to promote diversity as a positive virtue”
Ted Cantle’s team came across widespread feeling that BAME communities did not have a stake in society and were not getting enough help to tackle their problems. The report identified a lack of hope and a sense that their future was limited by their economic and social circumstances. It only took the right trigger sometimes lack of access to service or provocation by far-right groups, to tip that frustration into violent confrontation. You can read more about Ted Cantle and the report here: www.tedcantle.co.uk
Ted Cantle said he was hopeful of a better future particularly young people who he said were really inspirational and gave him hope.
Working with the communities the measures Bradford Council, Police and other agencies took were extensive and focussed on bringing people together and raising cultural awareness and tolerance of each other’s beliefs.
The strapline, One Landscape, Many Views, was soon enacted as a strategic approach to underline future strategies and policy responses which resonated well with the communities.