Majonzi covid-19 bereavement fund nears £100,000 donation target


Artwork created by Dr Pen Mendonca

At the time of writing, £94,315 has been raised for an initiative which aims to stand in the gap for communities in what has been a turbulent pandemic.

Organised by Patrick Vernon OBE on behalf of the Ubele Initiative, the Majonzi fund aims to provide small grants to help families, communities and faith groups organise memorial events and tributes (whether physical or online), so they can celebrate and commemorate the lives of their loved ones post lockdown.

Speaking to OBV, Patrick Vernon OBE confirmed that they would be launching the grant scheme next Tuesday to coincide with the National Day of Reflection - 12 months on since the start of lockdown.

We've raised about £95,000 and just under 2000 people have made donations as well as a number of individuals who’ve campaigned to support the initiative as well. What we want to do is acknowledge the loss in BME communities. Sometimes that loss is not fully acknowledged by the government.”

~ Patrick Vernon OBV

A virtual memorial wall will also be launched on the Majonzi website. This will allow people from the community to leave messages of condolences and solidarity.

Over the past year, the impact that the virus has had on minority communities has been documented extensively. Early on in the pandemic, a visible pattern began to emerge highlighting the disproportionate effect the virus was having on individuals from Black, Asian and minority backgrounds. Last May, analysis from the Guardian revealed that of the first 200 healthcare workers to tragically die from the virus, 61% of them were from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Particular focus was also given to the impact the virus was having on healthcare workers from Filipino backgrounds and whether they were overrepresented in ‘high risk environments’.

The second Public Health England report crystallised not only the impact in which the virus was having but also the variety of factors contributing to the patterns which had emerged.

The unequal impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities may be explained by a number of factors ranging from social and economic inequalities, racism, discrimination and stigma, occupational risk, inequalities in the prevalence of conditions that increase the severity of disease including obesity, diabetes, CVD and asthma.

~ Public Health England, June 2020

Age has also been a critical risk factor associated with the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. It has been a key consideration in the government’s vaccination campaign, as care home residents and carers were prioritised for receiving a first dose of the vaccine.

By 15 February we aim to have offered a first vaccine dose to everyone in the top four priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI): • all residents in a care home for older adults and their carers • all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers • all those 75 years of age and over • all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

~Department of Health & Social Care

Professor Kevin Fenton also stressed this during a Westminster council meeting on covid-19, last month.

In any case, the covid-19 bereavement fund, which is nearing £100,000, is one more example of communities coming together to help one another during this pandemic.

If you wish to contribute and donate, you can choose to do so now.

Mayowa Ayodele


A call to action...

For nearly 25 years OBV have fought to ensure black and minority ethnic participation and representation in civic society. Efforts in continuing to do so though, relies on your help. That way we can continue this fight for greater race equality. What would give us a tremendous boost is if today, you made that small donation yourselves, but even more importantly if you encouraged others to do likewise.