Over 120 supporters, staff and clients of Suffolk’s leading civil rights organisation, the Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) attending the organisation’s Annual General meeting last night (14th September) heard how the last year has been one of the most difficult since it was founded in 1977.Concerns about continued funding for its key projects, the growing negative impact of cuts to legal aid and other public funding on local people and the rise in hate crimes following the European Union Referendum have all contributed to what Business and Operations Director Phanuel Mutumburi calls “the most challenging year imaginable for equal rights.” “Yet I’m pleased to say that our overall message is one of hope and good news in the face of these difficulties. As a result, ISCRE continues its vital work in support those facing unlawful discrimination of whatever kind.” The key highlights of ISCRE’s year include:
- New funding for the Tackling Discrimination in the East initiative, aimed at raising awareness of and helping victims address unlawful discrimination thanks to Big Lottery Fund. When the previous funding finished in the spring, over £3800 was raised via the legal fundraising site CrowdJustice site to keep the project going until it secured a further Big Lottery Grant of £350,000 for the next three years
- New funding for Suffolk Law Advice Centre thanks to the Tudor Trust. ISCRE has been granted £27,000 per annum for three years starting April 2016, for its core costs. The Centre is a joint venture with the Suffolk & North Essex Law Society and national Pro bono charity, LawWorks. Based in Ipswich but used by residents from all parts of the county, the Centre provides 30 minutes of free legal advice, in areas such as family, immigration, personal injury, employment, housing, small claims and community care from over 70 local legally qualified professional volunteers.
- Launch of the Living Rights Project in the East of England, which is funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union of which ISCRE is the regional delivery partner. This is aimed at ensuring newly arrived EU citizens are aware of their legal rights and know where to turn for help and how to access services
- #SuffolkSolidarity campaign which was launched in reaction to a reported rise in hate crimes immediately after the EU Referendum result and which has been supported by dozens of councils, other public bodies and not-for-profit organisations
Christopher Cumberbatch, chair of ISCRE’s Board of Trustees added “I am immensely proud of the monumental efforts of ISCRE’s team to address discrimination and promote understanding and acceptance among Suffolk’s very many communities. At challenging times such as the ones we are currently living in, ISCRE’s positive contributions to our society matter more than ever.” The ISCRE AGM was held on 14th September at the University of Suffolk. This year’s meeting was chaired by the Deputy Mayor of Ipswich, Councillor Glen Chisholm and attendees heard an inspirational presentation by Katharine Segal, of CrowdJustice.