chapter  5
14 Pages

Voluntary groups

ByTanzeem Ahmed, Amanda Webb-Johnson

The traditional voluntary sector in Britain is composed of a variety of organisations, ranging from large institutions such as the National Association for Mental Health (MIND) to small groups staffed by one or two people. Historically, they derive from Victorian philanthropy and charitable works of the last century, but they are now well established and accepted as institutions that are often heavily supported financially by state funds. However, voluntary groups serving the needs of ethnic minorities are generally modest, small-scale organisations composed mainly of local people, and focusing on providing practical help together with religious and cultural activities for their communities. They arose largely during the 1950s in response to a need for self-help, coupled with a feeling of communality in the face of discrimination (Institute of Race Relations, 1993). Therefore there is a strong tradition of independence from government among black voluntary groups, although many are now funded by the state or by large ‘white’ grantgiving agencies.