Increasing interest in regional voluntary community sector (VCS) infrastructure led to the Home Office report: Strengthening the Black & Minority Ethnic Voluntary Sector Infrastructure[1], which noted how Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) third sector organisations promote social inclusion, race equality and justice. The report also went on to acknowledge that as well as the provision of tailored services and cultural activities, the BME third sector also provided new employment, training and education opportunities, acted as advocates for those who are disadvantaged and under-represented, and influenced government policy and practice through campaigning.

A decision was taken to review the feasibility of establishing a generic and BME network in each of the nine English regions. Go East convened a meeting in the East of England, inviting key stakeholders in local and sub regional BME organisations to review interest in establishing a BME network. A feasibility grant was applied for and obtained from the Home Office Active Communities Unit. The project review was managed by Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) with a partnership of other BME stakeholders including Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council, Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum and Ipswich Caribbean Association. Support for the feasibility application was also provided by the Cambridge Vietnamese Refugee Association and Cambridge City Council.

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[1] Home Office, “Strengthening the Black & Minority Ethnic Voluntary Sector Infrastructure” (Home Office Active Community Unit, 1999)

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