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About Acre

Alliance for cohesion and racial equality was set up in 2012 to promote equality, community empowerment and community cohesion in Reading.  Acre promotes community cohesion and equality through engagement, empowerment, and integration of the diverse communities in the Reading and greater Reading area.  This includes the elimination of discrimination, promote positive relationships between communities and advocate equal opportunities for all.

  • Promoting equality across the nine characteristics
  • Promoting community engagement and cohesion
  • Promoting empowerment for the community
  • Set up an Equality Alliance and a Hate Crime Forum to monitor equality and devise a coordinated approach to equality.

  • Aims to offer training across the nine protected characteristics of equality.

  • Improve access to information, advice and advocacy across the nine protected characteristics of equality.

  • Promote third party reporting of hate crime.

  • Consult, review and respond to the equality impact on relevant policies of key public services.

  • Provide a link between ethnic minority communities and statutory agencies.

Alafia-Open Day15Alafia provides a pro-active outreach advice and guidance service for some of the most hard to reach families in Reading. Acre’s Family Support Team works with BME families caring for children between ages 0-25 with disabilities or additional needs.

  • Provide advice and guidance on a variety of issues, including but not exclusive: Housing, Benefits, Special Educational Needs Provision, Crisis Disability Grants, UK education, and welfare landscape
  • Reduce health inequality by encouraging Healthy Lifestyles including reducing Obesity, and promoting exercise and BME high risk health issues (diabetes, prostate cancer, bowel cancer screening)
  • Provide short breaks for children and opportunities for parents to meet other Carers from the same cultural and linguistic backgrounds to offer peer support. This reduces disability stigma and social isolation
  • Empower families to meet and mix across different cultural backgrounds
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Promoting community cohesion requires constant engagement, with the aim of bringing together people from different backgrounds to celebrate the different cultures in Reading. We create opportunities for people to meet and understand each other’s communities with whom they share a common space – Reading. We also facilitate public education by hosting ordinary general meetings on topical issues.

Alafia’s community engagement see outreach visits promoting the Alafia service regularly throughout the year to Children’s Centres, Family Link Support Group, Parenting Special Children, and mainstream schools. We attend public events across faiths and cultures, liaising with community leaders to achieve our aims. By utilising a pro-active and persistent outreach approach, going to the places where hard to reach families, most in need of support, may be seeking support we:

  • Effectively utilise resources to target the most in need
  • Promote Safeguarding and de-stigmatisation of disabled children in communities in which faith based and cultural beliefs may put them at risk

EA

Acre works with a range of organisations representing the nine protected strands as defined by the Equality Act 2010 (age, disability, gender/sex, marriage/civil partnership, maternity and pregnancy, race, religion and belief, sexual orientation, and trans-gender/gender re-assignment).  To this end Acre has developed the Equalities Alliance with a participatory membership of 41 equality support organisations.  The work programme for the Equalities Alliance includes the following:

  • The establishment of a Hate Crime Forum
  • Implementation of a programme to foster collaboration & cohesion
  • Coordinate a programme to respond to myths & stereotypes on equality & community
  • Spearhead a campaign on FGM and other “hidden issues”
  • Organise annual Equalities Alliance Conference & integrated Hate Crime Vigil

It is believed that there are in excess of 170,000 women and girls living with FGM in the UK. Children born to women with FGM are at risk of being cut themselves. FGM is usually carried out on girls between infancy and aged 15. For those that undergo FGM, the physical and psychological consequences are often devastating and lifelong. FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985.  There have been a number of calls for better service provision for those living with consequences of FGM. Acre’s work on FGM is designed to inform and advise potential practicing communities of the consequences of the practice, and to empower the survivors. Acre set out to initially:

  • Undertake a concerted programme of engagement with affected communities to build relationships
  • FGM awareness campaign
  • Develop a network of anti-FGM advocates
  • Galvanise activities leading to the development of a strategic multi-agency body
  • Further to develop a Reading Rose Clinic – a one-stop centre that will deal with FGM related issues.
The Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality (acre) in Reading has started an advice service to Legal logomembers of the public, in response to many enquiries in the field of immigration and from the knowledge of people seeking immigration advice from family and friends with no legal background, leading to inaccurate or misleading immigration advice.  With a significant rise in the demand for legal advice and advocacy support in different areas of litigation from the community in Reading, Acre’s Legal Office will focus on two specific areas of advocacy:

  • Immigration.
  • Employment Law.

Latest News Alerts

In the run up to the school summer holidays, Thames Valley Police is asking for your help to raise awareness of FGM. Click here to read more...

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Statistics

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FGM Survivors in UK
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~ Client interactions annually
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% Rise in Hate Crime 2016
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Our Projects

Testimonials

“Have just returned from one the best AGM’s I’ve ever attended. Every single person who spoke this evening was captivating – every one. Absolutely fantastic team, full of energy and firing on all cylinders, despite lack of resources. The guest speaker, Courtenay Griffiths QC, was simply astounding. So well did he understand and empathise that I felt a brotherly bond instantly. Anyone who’s familiar with attending AGM’s will ask “how on earth can an AGM be captivating!?” Believe me, this was that rare occasion! Anyone whose anyone *must* rally behind ACRE. They really are connecting with and benefitting, tangibly, those who they set out to serve. Alhamdulillah.”
Mustapha Choudry - Conference Attendee
“Alafia is doing a good job! They are providing a valuable service to people whose first language is not English. Whenever I phone, I get a quick response. Their service is effective and efficient. They keep me informed and provide the information in my own language. I strongly recommend it to everyone! Alafia staff are there when I need them”.
Saeed Sheikh – Parent
“Acre is a great organisation to work for. The work here ethic is very professional and lively, yet friendly and laid back, so you can work at a pace that suits you, giving you the freedom to operate at the best of your ability without undue pressure. I have felt welcome here, and felt a sense of belonging. I would recommend Acre to any volunteers looking to work in the third sector.”
Lorena Vicci - Volunteer
“I come here because I feel secure. I don’t worry about her behaviour. I know it is safe and the other parents understand. This is the only time we go out during the month.”
Mother of 2 Girls with Autism
“The event was a great success; it provided DISC with a great platform to inform our BME families of our services. It was great to see all the ethnic communities that attended work so well together, networking and communicating together collaboratively. It encompasses what Reading is about.”
Gill Seagrove - DISC Reading Borough Council
“When I need help I know I can turn to Alafia. I have enjoyed all the events which have also been very helpful. I hope I will continue to get support from Alafia.”
Jadranka Cvitanusic - Alafia Parent Carer

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Our Partners

Acre has worked closely with partners from the statutory, voluntary, and community sectors.  Acre City of Sanctuary Pledegis represented on the Local Strategic Partnership and Cultural Partnership, and we have been involved in delivering the priorities of the Reading Advice Network and Advice Forum.  We also support Reading Borough Council’s ‘Tackling Poverty in Reading’ Strategy and Working Group.

Acre has worked closely with sector partners including Reading Refuge Support Group, Mustard Tree, RAHAB and British Red Cross to have Reading declared as a City of Sanctuary for vulnerable migrants and trafficked individuals.

Acre has provided progress reports on the development of the Equalities Alliance and highlighting key issues at quarterly meetings of the Directorate of Education, Adult & Children’s Services (DEACS) Equality and Diversity Group Meetings. We have also formed the pan-Equalities Alliance of organisations to promote equality in Reading.

Acre has been represented at the ‘Safer Reading’ Crime Based in the Community Group meetings 12366107_1623030417961508_6765783772691475105_oand is actively involved in the development and roll out of the Hate Crime Strategy for Reading. We have agreed Terms of Reference with the Equalities Alliance and we will be moving to the next stage by setting up the Hate crime Forum in the new financial year.  Acre is also represented on the Thames Valley (Reading) Police’s Independent Advice Group to advise on community relations.

Acre is a member of the Thames Valley & Chiltern CPS Local Scrutiny and Involvement Panel and we are represented at the quarterly meetings. During the year HM Government declared stopping Female Genital Mutilation [FGM] and Honour Based violence as priorities so Victoria and I have agreed to represent the organisation depending on the agenda items.

Acre has supported the consultation of community organisations and individuals by public sector Community Consultationpartners or agencies. We facilitated consultations and engagement of community groups by the following: 

  • Cultural Partnership
  • Highways Agency
  • RBC Care Act Implementation
  • Reading Advice Services Guide

Acre has worked with Utulivu Women’s group and Betheli Services to encourage young people especially from the African Diaspora to engage with the agencies that have been set up to provide them with support. Following a meeting with our Grant Liaison Officer at Reading Borough Council we had the opportunity to address the Elevate City Deal partnership Board. The aim is to promote opportunities for young people in hard to reach communities and we need to develop stronger partnership working with the relevant agencies.

We work directly with partner organisations to promote and campaign in support of each other’s strategic interests and concerns: 

  • Partnership work with British Red Cross (BRC) for the Thames Valley area to provide complimentary services to integrate clients, particularly vulnerable clients, from migrant communities.

  • Partnership work with Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) to support the Reading City of Sanctuary project.
  • Partnership work with Utulivu Women’s Group on the FGM Campaign to host multiple conferences, including “This Girl Should Never Be Cut”, “End FGM on International Zero Tolerance Day” and joint presentations to the House of Commons in Parliament on International Women’s Day.

  • Partnership work with the Association of Sri Lankan Muslims (ASLAM) to support their campaign for international intervention to stop hate crimes and attacks on the majority Buddhist community in Sri Lanka.

  • Partnership work with Oxford Road Community Centre (ORCC) to develop the centre into a fit for purpose community resource.

  • Partnership work with Betheli Services to empower young people to find their identity and realise their potential.