BEMIS is the national umbrella body supporting the development of the Ethnic Minorities Voluntary Sector in Scotland. BEMIS was established in 2001 to promote the interest of minority ethnic voluntary organisations, develop capacity and support inclusion and integration of ethnic minorities communities. It is a member-led and managed organisation with an elected board of directors.
The major aims and objectives of BEMIS are to represent and support the development of the ethnic minority voluntary sector across Scotland, and to support the diverse communities and individuals that this sector represents, especially those who are under- represented and disadvantaged. BEMIS aims to address inequalities by empowering communities, working towards an inclusive society by establishing structures, which recognise diversity and empowers ethnic minorities, and ensuring that they are fully recognised and supported as a valued part of the Scottish multicultural civic society.
Initial Key aims and objectives:
- To strengthen the capacity of the ethnic minorities voluntary sector.
- Raise the profile of the ethnic minorities’ voluntary sector and its needs at strategic, local and national levels.
- Have a coordinating role for the voice of the ethnic minorities’ voluntary sector, ensuring pertinent issues are raised with the relevant bodies.
- To take a lead on policy issues and debate which are of concern to minority ethnic communities at both local and national levels.
- Work in partnership with all stakeholders and the diverse Ethnic Minorities communities in support of equality and a multicultural Scotland.
Key Strengths Of BEMIS as identified in the HMIE review:
- a highly committed board of directors and staff who brought with them a good range of professional skills and a clear understanding of their responsibilities;
- the organisation had been successful in uniting a diverse range of stakeholders;
- BEMIS was highly valued by stakeholders and was making a positive impact on individuals, organisations and communities;
- strong commitment to inclusion and diversity; and
- strong commitment to ensuring grass roots organisations have a voice rather than acting as a spokesperson for EM communities.
The above is complemented by the following notions stated by HMIE:
- A sector leading organisation/ excellent rating.
- BEMIS made a significant difference in local communities and to the organisations it supported. 93.6 % of questionnaire respondents rated the overall service provided by BEMIS as good to excellent
- Active involvement in research work with other organisations [which] enhanced understanding and removed barriers to BME involvement in local and national democracy
- Organisational efficiency and effectiveness for stakeholder organisations had been improved
- BEMIS gives grass roots a voice rather than acting as mouthpiece for EM communities
- BEMIS had been instrumental in securing a significant increase in the EM responses to consultation processes making effective use of its network both nationally and across a diverse range of ethnic communities/
- BEMIS was making a positive contribution to policy development and had been instrumental in ensuring …‘engagement’… directly with EM organisations/
- BEMIS had a strong track record of consulting its target communities, identifying needs and responding quickly with programmes and projects.
- Their commitment to capacity building ensured that local projects were self sustaining and no longer required significant support from BEMIS staff
- The comprehensive range of accredited training opportunities offered including a BA in community regeneration and HNC working in communities ensured EM people in local communities had the skills to better engage with local structures and partnerships
- Managers and staff at BEMIS were highly motivated, energetic and committed to the purpose of their work. They worked very effectively as a team, providing high levels of mutual support.
- The very strong commitment of BEMIS to diversity and inclusion was reflected in its diverse membership. Participants in the professional development courses came from a range of ethnic backgrounds
- The organisation had made very good efforts to target specific communities with its work, and to involve them in its management
- the organisation was not fully capitalising on its excellent work. It should develop better means to communicate and celebrate its successes so as to raise its profile.
- There is a strong commitment at both board and staff level to ensure that the diverse voluntary sector and communities this sector represents are fully recognised and supported as a valued part of civic society and a multicultural Scotland.
BEMIS enjoys a high proportion of fundamental Strengths that are essential for the development and delivery of our role and remit. The opportunities for developing and delivering our strategies and objectives are ample and remain to be explored and exploited to the full in support of the diverse EMVS as well as government policies and initiatives around equality and social justice.
Within the above context, BEMIS has and continue to be a major partner in supporting the equality agenda in Scotland and in supporting the diverse communities within the framework of equality, diversity and a cohesive multicultural Scotland. We envisage this role to be enhanced and promoted enabling us to function and deliver at several levels in empowering the diverse EM voluntary sector and the communities this sector represents as well as assisting national policies and objectives of the government in their endeavour to promote an equal multicultural Scotland.