Smaller voluntary and community groups, many of whom work with BAME communities, struggle to develop the infrastructure and ways of working that would help them to maximise their impact. At the same time, the experiences of people from BAME backgrounds are often under-represented in decision-making by local authorities

and others. This leads to less effective outcomes for people from those groups, reinforcing disadvantage.

Our BME Network works with over 120 stakeholders in Lewisham, providing a paradigm for how to engage and strengthen groups who are often termed ‘hard-to-reach’ or ‘under-represented’. The network brings together community groups, statutory organisations and local businesses to build a stronger community.

Through the BME network we:

· Provide a forum for exchange of ideas, sharing of skills and resources, and co-ordination with other community organisations.

· Help communities to develop a strong voice in decision making and to work with public bodies and partner organisations to improve how services are run.

· Provide capacity building, helping organisations to develop their thinking, skills and infrastructure to maximise their impact.