'...our staff are our most valuable asset!'

By Lana Jakilazek

From the 5 – 10th November, people and organisations across the UK are celebrating Living Wage Week – the movement to pay a wage that reflects the true cost of living. 

The London Community Foundation has been an accredited Living Wage Friendly Funder since 2016, which means we encourage and support applications from organisations wanting to pay the real Living Wage or higher. Low pay in the charity sector is a real issue and especially affects people from BAMER backgrounds and women.

One such organisation challenging low pay in the sector is IMECE Women’s Centre, who believe that their staff are their greatest asset and should be rewarded for their important work.

With over 30 years’ experience of delivering advocacy and support to survivors of violence from Turkish, Kurdish and Cypriot Turkish communities, IMECE aim to empower and improve the quality of lives of women and children by collaboratively working with them to design and deliver their services. Advocating for the real Living Wage for several years, they have especially taken an active role in increasing awareness of the Living Wage for refugee and migrant organisations to encourage employees in those communities to pay it. 

Deniz Uğur, the Director of IMECE, took some time to answer our questions and explain the importance of paying the real Living Wage.

Why do you believe it’s important to pay the real Living Wage?

We believe it is important to pay at least the London Living Wage as we recognise the cost of living, in London in particular, is rising and as employers, want to ensure that we pay our staff who do critical frontline service delivery adequately and accordingly.

Why do you think it’s important for funders to fund organisations who are paying the real Living Wage?

Funders are critical to influencing policy and can play a significant role in encouraging and enabling best practice within the community organisations and charities they support. As an organisation, our policy is to only work with funders which do fund strategically and sustainably.

Do you face any challenges paying the real Living Wage? 

We are always under pressure to deliver projects that can show best value for money, which we do do, however we never compromise on salary levels, given that our staff are our most valuable asset!

Why is it important to increase the awareness of the real Living Wage for migrant and refugee organisations?

Inadequate pay and exploitation at work disproportionately affect migrant and refugee women, which means that for them escaping poverty becomes increasingly difficult. If you are being exposed to multiple oppressions — i.e. gender, race, nationality — the opportunities to elevate yourself are even harder to access.

It is critical to continue to increase awareness about the importance of funders paying LLW for migrant and refugee organisations in particular to work towards ending poverty, and specifically for those that also are already being treated unfairly by society.