The BME Services Unit at ARC has been running for 8 years. Its aim is to promote good practice in service delivery for people with a Learning Disability from ethnic minority communities.
The work in this area started for ARC in 1998 when the Department of Health awarded a grant to write guidance for providers on culturally competent services. Bridget Fisher was appointed as the Project Worker and now is Manager of the BME Unit.
The project produced the ‘Services For All’ book and a range of support tools including a handbook for families, and videos (now DVD’s) including some in minority languages.
The many contacts made over the 3 year’s Services For All project were too useful a resource to lose so the Department of Health gave a grant to fund the National Learning Disability and Ethnicity Network which continues to this day and now has over 1500 members.
Over the last 10 years the Unit has worked on many National Projects and currently is running the Giving Us A Voice project which will produce a National Charter for Inclusion.
Over the years we have worked in partnership with many organisations including Mencap, BILD, the National Autistic Society, the Council for Disabled Children, the National Children’s Bureau and the North West Training and Development Team.
Our aim is always to promote better life opportunities for people with Learning Disabilities and therefore wherever possible we talk to Service Users and their families. We actively encourage them to become involved in service planning and delivery.
The increasing importance of this area of work is reflected in the status ARC gives the work. The Unit Manager is part of the 5-strong Senior Management Team. One of the seats on the Board of Trustees is a designated representative from a BME organisation.
Currently 20% of people joining adult Learning Disability Services are from ethnic minority communities and that figure will probably continue to rise. The BME Unit within ARC is there to help ensure services are well prepared to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse client group.