Migrant organisations: the perfect storm

30 January 2013 – SPRC Seminar – Middlesex University (Hendon Campus)

On January 30th 2013 (1pm) I will be presenting a seminar on “Migrant and BME organisations in the UK: navigating the perfect storm”. This is part of the Social Policy Research Centre seminar series. For further info and to book a place click here.

Abstract – Migrant and Ethnic community organisations are widely recognised as fundamental means of support and integration, particularly for newly arrived migrants and ethnically excluded minorities. As well as providing direct support with tailored services, they act as advocates, increase civic engagement and reduce social isolation. These organisations have been often described as a measure of group-level social capital; a direct expression of collectively expressed and ascribed identity. However, their development is affected by a wide range of factors, particularly the ‘opportunity structure’ of the host country.

For a long time, the migrant and BME sector in the UK had been relatively well established, resourced and effective – especially when compared to other European countries. The last decade, however, has seen the emergence of new challenges. The economic crisis, together with policy changes in a number of areas, have created a sort of ‘perfect storm’ which is jeopardising the existence of the sector as a whole, at least in his traditional form.

Building on a number of projects and initiatives undertaken by the author within the Social Policy Research Centre and the Third Sector Research Centre, this paper presents an overview of the recent history of migrant and BME organisations in Britain, how the sector is changing to react to the UK’s socio-economic and political environment and what possible scenarios lay ahead. It is argued that some of the policy trends affecting the sector are much more far-reaching that they may appear. What is a stake is not just the existence of certain types of organisations, but the whole idea of how diversity is ‘managed’ and how the needs of minority groups are catered for.

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