Comic Relief’s £2.8m fund for specialist UK projects tackling COVID-19 racial inequalities

Recent research from The Ubele Initiative report found 9 in 10 Black, Asian and Minority ethnic-led charities could cease operating if the lockdown continued

Written by Rodney Hinds

Published on 12th February 2021

TRIO: Members of the Big Brother Burngreave project supported by Sport Relief Photo by Andrew Whitton/Comic Relief

COMIC RELIEF has awarded 10 specialist charities a share of a new £2.8million fund which is set to help hundreds of smaller grass roots projects across the UK that provide vital services to diverse communities who have the greatest risk of Covid-19.

The selected 10 charities are ‘intermediary partners’ and have each been awarded between £179,000 to £360,000 to distribute to smaller UK projects at the forefront of delivering community Covid-19 response activities. 

Each intermediary partner has also been awarded an investment for grant management and organisational development. Each partner will open their own funding calls from the end of February and set their criteria and grant amounts individually, with applicants applying to them directly.

As many small projects struggle to adapt their services and develop new ways of working during the pandemic, recent research from The Ubele Initiative report found 9 in 10 Black, Asian and Minority ethnic-led charities could cease operating if the lockdown continued and a projected 15,000 to 20,000 users per week would be unable to access services.

The Global Majority Fund aims to help address these inequalities by targeting services for the most at risk communities. The £2.8m fund includes contributions from Barclays, as part of the NET’s Coronavirus Appeal, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Clothworkers’ Foundation and Comic Relief.

 The selected 10 intermediary partner charities are:

  • Do It Now Now: Awarded: £360,000. The UK-wide organisation is set to fund Black-led charity social enterprises that provide services to people that have been adversely affected by COVID
  • Migrant Centre Northern Ireland: Awarded: £179,400. The Northern Ireland based charity is set to fund projects providing access to emergency support with accessing food banks, mental health services and bereavement support
  • Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights Awarded: £288,000. The Scotland based charity will be funding projects tackling food poverty as well as mental health services, healthcare inequalities, gender based violence and homelessness
  • Women’s Resource Centre in partnership with Black Training & Enterprise Group (BTEG) Awarded: £276,000. They will fund smaller led by and for, Black and minoritised women’s organisations which provide domestic abuse and violence against women and girls support
  • BME Health Forum Awarded: £288,000. The London based charity will fund community led advice and advocacy, emotional and mental health support, digital inclusion and improved access to food, medicine and health services
  • Lancashire BME Network Awarded: £288,000. The charity will provide frontline services such as emergency food parcels, befriending and wellbeing activities, and addressing digital exclusion across Lancashire
  • Africa Advocacy Foundation Awarded: £288,000. The charity is set to fund London based projects supporting Black migrant communities affected by racial injustice, violence, poverty, disability, and mental ill-health
  • Caribbean and African Health Network Awarded: £288,000. The Greater Manchester-based charity will support projects that help increase inclusion, and reduce loneliness and isolation
  • Race Council Cymru in partnership with BAWSO and Welsh Refugee Council Awarded: £318,000. Across Wales, projects that break down barriers, promote participation and community cohesion and integration, will be funded
  • Muslim Charities Forum Awarded: £288,000. The charity will fund a range of projects providing mental health, skills and education services plus essential needs (e.g. food provision)

Comic Relief and the National Emergencies Trust first collaborated last spring to create a £3.4million fund for projects led by leaders with lived experience of racial inequalities, working with communities disproportionately affected by Covid-19. Combined with the new second phase funding, this brings the total fund to over £6.2 million.

From the first phase of funding, 10 intermediary organisations have helped deliver 449 grants to projects, helping over 16,000 people across the UK, and have been used to provide emergency support to a wide range of communities including mental health support, food bank assistance and bereavement services.

Jacqueline Onalo, Trustee, Comic Relief said: “This funding programme is a vital and long overdue way of reaching key smaller projects that are a lifeline to many marginalised people who are most at risk during the pandemic.

“The Global Majority Fund is innovating our grants processes, and putting leaders with lived experiences at the forefront. I am proud of the hundreds of projects already funded by our first phase and I look forward to seeing the great work delivered across the UK by our new £2.8 million programme.

“In addition to this fund, Comic Relief is continuing to expand this important work by supporting The Baobab Foundation, the UK’s first grant making foundation, led by and for communities experiencing racial inequity.”

Mhairi Sharp, CEO, National Emergencies Trust, said: “This pandemic continues to have devastating impacts on people’s lives, and in ways that are not always visible or obvious.  

“Working with specialist charities who know exactly where to look, and how to help, is a critical part of ensuring funds reach all those who need them.

“The Global Majority Fund has already made a meaningful difference to communities. It’s new intermediary partners bring with them new expertise and fresh perspectives on the pandemic’s impacts, which will enhance and evolve this work further.”

Bayo Adelaja, CEO, Do It Now Now said: “Organisations are facing a funding deficit that significantly affects the long term sustainability and impact of their work within the underserved communities they focus on.

“COVID forced us to reckon with the consequence of allowing Black-led organisations to fall away due to a lack of accessible finance. Through this Comic Relief funding, we are able to continue supporting Black-led organisations working in communities across the country.”

Charles Kwaku-Odoi, Chief Officer, Caribbean & African Health Network said: “This funding is ground-breaking as the first of its kind given to a Black-led organisation to distribute funding to Caribbean & African led organisations in Greater Manchester. CAHN is extremely delighted to be fulfilling its ambition of enhancing and supporting amazing but underfunded, Black-led organisations to deliver on their objectives.

“The grants programme will enable many Black-led organisations provide practical health and welfare support to the Caribbean & African community that have stark health inequalities which have been compounded by the Coronavirus.

“Black-led organisations are better placed to provide culturally competent services which are evermore need during this Covid-19 pandemic.”

An unprecedented high number of applications were made to the Global Majority Fund, reflecting the huge demand on the services of smaller specialist organisations during the pandemic.  

As a result, Comic Relief is offering unsuccessful applicants workshops to help develop skills and tools to strengthen their future funding opportunities.



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