Rise in discrimination cases in county, warns race charity

suffolk: A charity fighting racial discrimination in Suffolk today raised concerns over increasing tensions – and warned of potential “flash points” as funding cuts bite.

The Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) said it has been a “tough year for equalities in Suffolk”.

Chairman of the organisation Hamil Clarke told The Evening Star he fears public spending cuts will impact on its ability to fight for minority communities in the county.

He said in the last year ISCRE’s case load had “gone up considerably”, with an influx of issues relating to the employment of minority races, particularly people from Eastern Europe.

“In a nutshell, racism isn’t getting any better” he said.

“Here in Suffolk people’s heads are buried in the sand where racism is concerned.

“People talk about equality and diversity but don’t mention racism.

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“We would like to see more people challenge racism. Everyone challenges disability and women’s issues, but not so much race.”

Mr Clarke said the charity’s AGM on September 14 would positively address the challenges faced in Suffolk to give all communities “greater power and confidence to achieve fairer treatment”.

He said: “It’s been a tough year for equalities in Suffolk – and the squeeze on the public sector is likely to make that even tougher in the year ahead.

“The AGM will hear that the number of discrimination cases handled by our charity has continued to spiral upwards.

“More generally, there is no doubt that the economic recession is contributing to a worrying rise in tensions in some parts of Suffolk between established populations and newly-arrived communities.

“No one in authority should be complacent about the challenges in dealing with these potential flash points.”

The charity has in recent months successfully launched a leadership academy for African Caribbean boys to tackle underachievement in exams.

It has continued its innovative Stop and Search Reference Group with police as well as encouraging organisations to improve awareness of equality issues in the workplace.

Mr Clarke added: “The work we do is very, very important.

“If organisations would take on board and embrace race equality in their strategies it would make life easier.”

n What do you think about ISCRE’s concerns? Is racism a problem where you live? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.