A CIVIL liberties campaigner, Ella Vine has slammed Thurrock MP, Jackie Doyle Price over her claim that the anti-racism organisation Trust is not fit for purpose.
Ms Vine, who was a Labour candidate for Little Thurrock Rectory in the May local elections.
Ms Vine said:
“I find Ms Doyle-Price’s MP comments in her recent article for Thurrock Gazette from July 31st outrageous. In it, the MP for Thurrock suggests that the only umbrella organisation in Thurrock for BME communities, a registered charity, Thurrock Racial Unity Support Taskgroup, in short commonly called TRUST, should disappear. This charity supports most vulnerable black and ethnic communities (BME) in Thurrock, including refugees, asylum seekers, victims of domestic violence and victims of hate crime from BME communities. Ms Doyle-Price allegedly calls for withdrawing funding from this charity and for its closure. Ms Doyle-Price wrote: ’That said, would anyone miss TRUST? It is currently in receipt of more than £40,000 a year to strive for community cohesion. I am not aware of any positive outcomes of its work, though I am aware of problems with governance. I don’t believe it is fit for purpose, so there is an easy saving to be made’.
The comment above has caused public outrage. I am from Thurrock’s BME community and a former trustee of TRUST. I find Ms Doyle-Price’s comments inappropriate, unprofessional. I believe these comments could cause tensions within the community of Thurrock.
I suspect these comments could have been written with the aim to encourage a debate amongst Thurrock’s constituents whether ethnic minorities in Thurrock deserve help from this charity and whether public money from Thurrock Council should or should not be directed to help those communities. For these reasons I have asked the parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to investigate. I have also complained to David Cameron. This seemingly trivial issue could lead to funding withdrawal, criticism and closure this so much needed charity in Thurrock, leaving the most vulnerable people and families in most need in Thurrock with no help, all as a result of a call of an MP.
I am a professional charity worker and have worked for many years in this sector. I have founded, led and chaired many third sector organisations. I am also a professional fundraiser. In 2013, I was chosen as one in 25 top young fundraisers in the country by Civil Society and ‘Fundraising’ magazine.
In my entire career I have never seen a case where a MP calls for any charity to be closed or to have its funding withdrawn. Not even once. What shocked me in Thurrock’s case is that Ms Doyle-Price targeted only TRUST, which is the only umbrella charity for BME communities in Thurrock. I believe this is unprofessional and does not sit in the remit of work of a MP. It is alleged that Ms Doyle-Price’s choice to call for an end of funding to and an end of existence to TRUST as the only charity she mentioned, was not based on merit but on some other intentions. Additionally it is unknown and doubtful that Ms Doyle-Price prior to writing this article has undertaken borough-wide comprehensive evaluation of voluntary services and organisations to be in a position to target TRUST only.
Then there is a question whether Ms Doyle-Price had at heart to best for the people of Thurrock. TRUST benefits every one of us, not just BME communities, as it provides prevention and early intervention from problem escalation and saves public money. In this case, I believe that Ms Doyle-Price didn’t act in the interest of the Thurrock’s large BME community and in the interest of Thurrock’s constituents as a whole by calling for this charity to be closed.
As a charity worker I know exactly how much effort, time and hard work takes to run a charity and its services, especially in this difficult financial climate of funding cuts and where there are more people and families needing help as a result of cuts. It is exceptionally difficult for charities like TRUST, which provide services for a not a popular cause.
Ethnic minorities funding is usually right at the bottom of funders’ priorities. Many charities do struggle, but that’s not to say that their services are not valuable. I don’t think that Ms Doyle-Price comments did to TRUST’s employees and volunteers who work hard to give the most to Thurrock’s residents with limited funding. Anyone who has given their time to a charity will know how hard it could be to keep services and a charity running. Those people at TRUST deserve recognition, not such inexcusable comments from their MP.
I think that Ms Doyle-Price has overused her power and crossed a line here. Charities are not a political meat for the powerful and should not be. In this case, unfortunately, it is an example where the powerful try to hinder the efforts for the most vulnerable residents of Thurrock. I find it appalling”.
Ms Doyle-Price has responded:
“In respect of TRUST, I have been moved to comment because of the threat of cuts to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). At a time when taxpayers money is constrained we need to ensure that every pound we spend produces a positive outcome and is value for money. The services delivered by CAB certainly meet that test.
“In respect of TRUST, Your Thurrock has reported some worrying issues regarding governance which would suggest that Its ability to meet the value for money test is questionable
“As a community leader with a belief in achieving community cohesion amongst our now very diverse community in Thurrock, I am surprised that in four years of being Member of Parliament, I have never been contacted by TRUST. This contrasts with other voluntary organisations who have been only too keen to tell me about what they do. As they should. If there is a good story to tell then tell it and support will follow.
“All bodies who take public money must be transparent about how it is spent and what positive outcomes they achieve so that we can judge whether they are delivering the objective we are funding them for. That is accountability and no organisation which received taxpayers money should be immune from it.