Newham Monitoring Project is a community-based organisation that aims to provide oversight of the manner in which public bodies respond to incidents of racial violence, harassment and discrimination.
The focus of our work is primarily on the police and local authority departments. Secondary to these are other institutions wihin the criminal justice system. Increasingly, we also focus on bodies with a semi-public status who have taken over many of the former responsibilities of local government, such as housing associations.
Our client group
We seek to provide those suffering the impact of racism, both individually and as communities, with the tools to hold these public bodies to account for the service they provide. NMP therefore works with individuals and families from Black Asian Minority Ethnic and Refugee / Asylum seeker backgrounds in east London.
In order to do so, we provide casework support, mainly to individuals or families suffering racial harassment but occasionally to organisations such as places of worship or specialist accommodation that find themselves the target of racists.
Because community-based oversight requires detailed local knowledge, our casework service is restricted to the following London boroughs:
Barking & Dagenham
NMP’s role in providing casework support
Initially we may act as advisors and advocates but our aim is always to enable people to be able to speak for themselves and have the confidence and skills to take on public bodies that fail to address their experiences. In order to do so, our casework support will always be completely independent of any public body.
This is the important distinction between our approach and the client/professional relationship of, for example, solicitors or most advice centres. If people are dependent on our ‘professional expertise’, then they are no closer to reclaiming some degree of control over their lives than when they are dependent on the stifling bureaucracy of, say, a council department.
Moreover, it is important to ask why members of black communities under attack need an intermediary to negotiate between them and public officials? Why can’t these institutions change so they are more responsive to the concerns of people suffering racist violence and more willing to rectify quickly mistakes when they are made?
However, avoiding the distinction between ‘client’ and ‘professional’ does not mean that the support we provide should be anything but highly competent, proficient and well organised. In demanding of public bodies that they provide a high quality service, it seems incumbent on us to do the same.
Quality casework means a commitment to the following
- Ensuring that all information concerning cases remains confidential and that the release of any information happens only with the explicit permission of the person concerned
- Keeping in regular contact with our cases. Keeping properly maintained case-files and fully record all work undertaken.
- Conducting a regular bimonthly review all the cases on our Casework Database to identify emerging trends and issues and to compile a breakdown of our current workload.
The link between casework and campaigning
On a broader level, by monitoring the way in which public bodies confront racism at a grassroots level and highlighting the deficiencies in their approach, we aim to fundamentally change the way that black communities are treated both locally and nationally.
The overwhelming ‘reason’ for our casework is therefore its ability to enable us to see the patterns, trends and issues that are common to those we support.
Drawing together similar or recurrent experiences of a number of people suffering racist violence and harassment provides us with evidence of institutional failure and therefore the basic building blocks of a campaign that can force an institution to change its practices and policies.
For many years, this has been expressed within NMP in the following way:
CASEWORK identifies ISSUES that lead to CAMPAIGNS
Attempting to both assist people who are suffering the impact of racism to demand a better service and highlight the issues of institutional failure that their experiences point to – and remain wholly independent – whilst also acting as a semi-public service provider, would be an irreconcilable conflict of interest.
NMP offers an independent and confidential service regardless of class, religion, race, nationality, gender, age, sexual preference or health status.
We expect our clients to show respect to staff and other users. We operate a complaints system for users who are dissatisfied with the service they have received. We welcome feedback from our service users on how they have found our services and how these could be improved.
Availability of Casework Service
NMP is open Monday to Friday 10am – 6pm. The advice service operates within these hours by appointment only. Outside of office hours people may leave a message on our answerphone for non-urgent messages.
If you are unable to visit us we are able to offer home visits within office hours, subject to staff availability. Please ring the office to arrange an appointment. We will arrange an appointment within 2 weeks of contact. The caseworker will usually attend accompanied by another person from NMP. The caseworker will bring documentation to confirm their identity as an NMP worker.
NMP emergency helpline is available 24-hours a day, 365 days per year. Unfortunately, this does not include minicom or other text phone facilities.
We aim to respond to client enquiries as quickly as we can. We will endeavour to respond to all written correspondence (e-mails and letters) within 10 working days and telephone messages within 3 days.
We also aim to give you an appointment within 2 weeks of contacting us.
If you request a letter to be written by us and we agree, we will aim to write it within 10 working days, unless it is urgent or there is a deadline to consider. This timeframe will be explained to you by the caseworker, so you can discuss it.
The building NMP is based in is wheelchair accessible, however NMP’s offices are not, being based on the second floor with no lift available. NMP are able to arrange access to interview room space on the ground floor to see clients.
NMP has a wide pool of volunteers, many of whom are able to provide spoken and/or written translation speaking over 20 second languages.
Access to Case Files
If you wish to access your case file, please advise your caseworker. We will require 24-hours notice to respond to this where the file is kept on the premises. If the file is in storage, we will inform you and discuss a suitable retrieval time, taking into account the urgency of the request. We aim to retrieve files from storage (off-site) within 1 week.