Learning difficulties project in funding crisis

The biggest national learning difficulties project for improving services for black and minority ethnic communities faces an uncertain future if new funding is not found.

The National Learning Disability and Ethnicity Network, set up by charity the Association for Real Change (ARC), could be forced to run a “diminished” service after its Department of Health grant stops at the end of this month, ARC has warned.

The network, which helps more than 1,000 members to share good practice on BME services, has been funded for the past three years under the DH’s section 64 grant scheme for voluntary organisations, but no long-term government funding has been secured.

James Churchill, chief executive of ARC, said he feared support for BME communities was “slipping down the agenda” despite the government’s pledge last year to make the issue a funding priority for learning difficulties services.

Rob Grieg, the national director for learning disabilities, said he was “hopeful” that financial help would be found for the network.

He also insisted that supporting BME communities was an “increased priority” for the government.

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