A recent series of roundtables involving Welsh NGOs, academics and local and national government officials debated a vital issue that has fallen off the radar: the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) Viewpoint Breaking the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales identifies the causes of inequalities linked to ethnicity in Wales and proposes a set of actions to break these links.
With JRF support, and working with the People and Work Unit, Egino organised a series of roundtables to consider the findings and proposals. The wide range of participants welcomed the opportunity to debate the evidence and make proposals for future action. This blog and the accompanying podcast give a taste of that debate.
Aspiration for change
Ali Abdi, Community Partnerships manager at the Grangetown Community Gateway, Cardiff, was struck by the flow of ideas and aspiration for change: “There were lots of people here wanting to give their personal views and experiences from their workplace about inequalities in Wales about different ethnic groups. I think particularly what struck me was the aspiration, to want to change.”
Dr Rachel Bowen, Policy Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in Wales, thought it was “really positive to see that change is possible as demonstrated in the attainment levels of people from different ethnic backgrounds.” But she cautioned against simplistic solutions, about thinking that there will be an automatic reduction in poverty if everybody gets better skills, and flagged up issues in the small business sector.
Mind the gender gap
In Wales, the employment rate for women from ethnic minorities is projected to remain below 50% up to 2020. Christine O’Byrne, Policy and Research Lead for Chwarae Teg, the Welsh charity which has been promoting women’s progress in the workplace since 1992, expressed particular concern about this gender gap: “Gender is central to tackling poverty. Women are more likely to be in poverty than men and we know that women face multiple disadvantage, so as a woman you would be disadvantaged in the economy, and as a woman from an ethnic minority group you’d be even more so.”
From data to intervention
Dr Richard Gale, a lecturer in human geography at Cardiff University, was struck by how the Viewpoint explored the existing evidence base and used it to look at the connections between problems: “When we move into thinking about where and when to intervene, the question emerges: where do you intervene in a particular problem to help create more positive pathways and transition? So I think it was useful to start with the data in the report and then think through the next steps from that.”
For more about the issues debated in the roundtables you can listen to the accompanying podcast, download the Viewpoint, or email Egino.
JRF Viewpoint: Breaking the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales
Viewpoint authors: Anna Nicholl, Chris Johnes and Duncan Holtom
Print copies are also available, in English and Welsh, from [email protected]
Blog author: Lila Haines
Note: These are the author’s views and interpretation, and not the position of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation or any other organisation or individual cited.