Black Lives Matter UK (BLMUK), a members-led nonprofit network that supports anti-racist causes, has announced a list of organisations it will award grant money to after the success of a huge fundraising appeal in 2020.
The GoFundMe campaign, launched in the wake of the global Black Lives Matter protests last summer, raised £1.2 million in donations — half of which will go towards funding small grassroots organisations supporting racial justice up and down the UK, plus two international groups.
In the first phase of funding distribution, £169,500 has been given to 14 organisations. The largest recipient of funding is the United Friends and Families Campaign which has received £45,000 to help set up a “people’s tribunal” to investigate deaths in state custody, the Guardian reported.
The United Friends and Families Campaign was initially set up in 1997 and represents people who have lost loved ones who were being detained in state custody, such as in prison or police custody.
The tribunal will invite international human rights lawyers to investigate cases and look at why there has been a failure to prosecute over deaths in custody. A 2017 government report on deaths in custody stated that every prosecution over a death in custody in the last 15 years had ended in an acquittal.
Similarly, the Northern Police Monitoring Project — an organisation that supports people experiencing police harassment based in Manchester — has received a grant from BLMUK.
Other organisations receiving funding in this round include those responsible for spearheading Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the UK, including All Black Lives, Justice for Black Lives, and A Tribe Named Athari.
First Round.— #BlackLivesMatterUK (@ukblm) February 17, 2021
We are so pleased to announce further details of how the BLMUK fund will be spent! https://t.co/uKpNqH5H2X
Grant money will also go to vital specialist groups such as Sistah Space, London’s only specialist domestic violence service for women of African and Caribbean heritage; and the African Rainbow Family, a charity supporting Black and minority ethnic LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers in Britain.
Other organisations to receive funding include: Acts of Love, an Africa-Caribbean community centre; AZ magazine, an arts and culture initiative for LGBTQ+ people of colour; and B’ME Cancer Communities, a charity that supports BAME communities affected by cancer, long-term illness, and now COVID-19.
While the fundraising drive happened after the wave of protests that began in the US in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody, BLMUK has in fact been running for five years. It says it raised these funds to support other organisations that “improve Black people’s lives in a racist society.” The remaining £600,000 will be used to scale-up its own operations.
It aims to build “an anti-racist organisation that can scale up its existing community organising, education work, and directions.”
Speaking to HuffPost UK, member of BLM UK, Alex Wanjiku Kelbert said: “Summer 2020 was very transformative for us as an organisation and also for a lot of people in the country."
“There is a lot energy and we’re really excited to be a big part of the anti-racism movement that’s going to take us forward," she continued. "We really wanted to support groups that are Black-led, multi-ethnic led, or are working on issues that affect Black communities.”
Lemara Francis, an organiser at BLMUK, added: “State racism is widening inequality, making support for Black workers, youth, the undocumented, women, LGBTQI people, and those struggling during the pandemic more urgent than ever. We’re excited to be contributing to projects that will aid the vital work being done in these areas and more.”