Minority pupils 'face daily taunts'

17th August 2001 at 01:00
CHILDREN from ethnic minorities in mid-Wales face name-calling and taunts on a daily basis from their classmates.

A helpline for victims of racist abuse in Powys found that many children from other cultures are isolated in classes in rural schools and suffer constant abuse.

The pound;10,000 helpline, run by Powys Victim Support in Ystradgynlais, was set up in response to the Macpherson report. Eileen Richards, helpline co-ordinator, said: "We found ethnic-minority children were very isolated. Children on a daily basis receive abuse in schools and it has a detrimental effect on their school work.

"There needs to be an understanding of race in schools. Teachers do their best but they don't always do the right thing. There should be a teacher responsible for ethnic wellbeing in rural schools."

Powys Victim Support had to battle against a huge amount of scepticism when seeking project funding.

Mrs Richards recalled: "One man said there are no ethnic minorities in Ystradgynlais, even though at the time he was standing outside an Indian takeaway, next to a filling station owned by an Asian businessman and facing a Chinese restaurant.

"The helpline is now part of Powys Victim Support but we need to be a separate organisation."

The helpline's existence is now under threat due to lack of funding. It was previously funded by the Dyfed-Powys police, Powys County Council and the Home Office.

Mrs Richards said: "There is some really good work going on here."

Sue Learner

Helpline number: 01639 842877

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