Terms of Reference


BMENational “The voice of the BME social housing sector”

TERMS OF REFERENCE

This document consolidates the statements about aims and rules, which the BMENational has adopted since its inception in 2009 and contains some additional rules regarding membership and governance.

BMENational’s Vision

BMENational’s vision is of:
“A world where flourishing BME Housing Associations provide homes as well as culturally specific services to BME individuals and communities”

Aims & Objectives
1. The main aims of BMENational (BMEN) are to:

a) Be the umbrella group for BME housing associations that provides a consultative and promotional platform for BME housing issues.
b) Represent and positively promote BME housing associations.
c) Collaborate with the National Housing Federation (NHF) to influence national housing policy.
d) Promote equality and diversity in the delivery of housing and support services.
e) Promote the needs and aspirations of BME communities in addition to their contribution to successful, vibrant and integrated communities.
f) Work with the NHF to influence local and central government, the Homes Communities Agency and other relevant statutory authorities in establishing and implementing policies and procedures affecting the housing, support and wider interests of BME communities.

Key Tasks
2. BMENational will concentrate on a number of key tasks/issues each year to be agreed by the membership. The operations and achievements of BMENational will be reviewed annually at the last meeting of the calendar year.

Events & Conferences
3. BMENational, with the assistance of the NHF, will endeavour to organise at least one event each year.

Diversity and Equality
4. The promotion of diversity, equality and anti-discriminatory practices is implied in all parts of BMENational’s work and that of its respective member associations. BMENational shall integrate equality and diversity practices into all its matters and activities.

Membership
5. The membership of BMENational is open to all BME housing organisations (including non-registered organisations) within England. Membership is subject to payment of an annual fee that is to be paid within 28 days of a written request being made.

6. Members may nominate the Chief Executive / Managing Director or their deputy to attend meetings. All nominees must have sufficient delegated authority to make decisions at BMENational meetings.

7. A BME housing organisation is one that chooses to define itself as such.

8. Non-BME organisations may be invited to attend specific meetings as and when required. The Executive Officers of BMENational may from time to time offer Associate membership to non-BME organisations, which can add value to its work. Any such Associate membership will be subject to an annual fee, but will have no voting rights at meetings.

9. BMENational operates under the auspices of the National Housing Federation.

Meetings and Venues
10. BMENational will meet at least 4 (four) times a year with an annual general meeting (AGM) held in April.

11. Five (5) members are required for a meeting of BMENational to be quorate.

12. All efforts will be made to have meetings held at venues across the country and not exclusively in London.

Appointment of Officers and Executive
13. BMENational will elect a Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary and Press Officer every two years. Up to three other members may be appointed to act as officers. Their terms of office shall be for two years. These Officers will form the BMENational Executive which will undertake the following roles:

a) Manage BMENational’s day-to-day activities
b) Make emergency decisions/representations
c) In conjunction with NHF staff provide BMENational’s administration
d) Attend meetings on behalf of BMENational
e) Delegate any of the above roles to other Group members who may have more relevant expertise or resources
f) Undertake the recruitment, selection and management of any support workers
g) Commission bespoke pieces of work
h) Ensure the 3 Year Strategy is reviewed annually by the membership and specific tasks are allocated and outcomes monitored
i) Ensure the Risk Management Register is reviewed annually by the membership and mitigations are actioned apprioriately.

14. The role of the elected officers shall be:

Chair
• To convene and chair meetings of BMENational
• To agree the agenda for meetings in advance with other members of the Executive
• To agree the minutes of BMENational before they are finalised and distributed
• To represent BMENational at meetings with other stakeholders or agree which other BMENational members should do so

Vice Chair
• To perform the role of chair in the absence of the chair
• To represent BMENational at any meetings or media event as agreed with the Chair

Secretary
• To take notes of meetings of BMENational
• To agree the minutes of each meeting and agree these with the chair/vice chair before they are circulated to the membership
• To issue notifications about meetings and circulate agreed agenda in advance of meetings
• To liaise with NHF and other supporting member organisations about venues and facilities for meetings

Treasurer
• To keep records of any financial transactions made by BMENational
• To prepare annual budgets for discussion and agreement at BMENational meetings.

Press Officer
• To act as the single point of contact for all BMENational dealings with the media
• To liaise with the Chair and Secretary to agree the line of response to any media enquiries
• To promote the profile and standing of BMENational amongst the media and trade press

Elections
15. Elections will be held at the first meeting of the new financial year and no later than 31st May. All paid up members will be eligible to stand for election.

16. All members will be given a minimum of 21 days notice of the election date and venue in writing and nominations are to be received by the Secretary 7 working days prior to the election date.

17. All nominees will require a proposer and seconder.

18. Voting will be on the basis of one vote per member and done by a show of hands. Proxy voting received in writing by the Secretary is accepted from a recognised nominee of the BME housing member organisation. In the case of a dead heat, the Chair will have the casting vote.

19. Each region in which BMENational has members will be able to nominate a regional representative as member of the Executive in addition to any individual nominations from the membership at large. As currently constituted this means in practice that the following regions will be able to nominate a regional representative:
• London & SE
• Midlands
• North West & Merseyside
• Yorkshire & Humberside

20. The elected officers shall hold office for two years after which they may stand to be re-elected. In the event of a retirement or standing down creating a vacancy before the elected term expires then any such vacancy may be filled by a resolution passed at a quorate BMENational meeting. Any vacancy filled by resolution at a meeting shall be only for the period ending with the next AGM or until the next two yearly elections are held. Any person appointed by resolution will be eligible to stand for election in the normal way.

Code of Conduct & Confidentiality
21. All issues discussed at Group meetings or in documents circulated to members will be treated as confidential to BMENational unless expressly stated otherwise.

22. Members will actively promote the needs of all black and minority ethnic housing associations irrespective of which ethnic background they belong to.

23. All members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional, respectful and courteous manner at all times.

24. All contact with the media on behalf of BMENational is delegated via the Press Officer to the Chair and secretary who must clear any press releases with each other.

25. In the event of conflicts or dualities of interest, members will declare such at each meeting before discussion of the relevant item begins.

26. During Group meetings all comments and contributions shall go through the chair.

27. Members must not use rude or disrespectful language or behaviour during Group meetings or at any other Group event.

28. If a major incident arises the Chair can approach any BMENational member (and vice versa) to obtain information and clarification.

29. The Chair will be guided by the member in terms of the support required including media interventions.

30. In the event the issue is brought into the public domain, the Chair will initially meet with other BMENational officers to consider any issues that may potentially be of detriment to the BMENational membership.

31. In the event the executive officers agree that the actions of a member are potentially detrimental to BMENational the Chair is authorised to issue a statement agreed by the officers to confirm BMENational’s stance in relation to the issue.

32. At all times any such statement should seek to be neutral and objective, particularly where more than one member is affected.

33. Subject to confidentiality issues, the Chair should keep the whole members informed of BMENational’s position in advance of any statements to the media.

34. In cases where an Executive member (including the chair) is involved in a dispute, which may harm the reputation of BMENational – the member concerned should step down from the Executive until such time as the dispute is resolved. If the person fails to step down, the remaining Executive members may vote (based on a simple majority) to remove the person from the Executive and thereafter report the matter at the next full meeting.

35. BMENational will not normally intervene with individual organisations that may be involved in a dispute, unless the actions of its member are potentially detrimental to BMENational itself or the wider BME housing sector.

36. The Executive Group may call a special meeting by giving 28 days notice in writing – to vote on removing an organisation from its membership, which is deemed to be bringing the sector into disrepute.

37. Any member of BMENational can ask the Chair for a meeting to be called of the whole membership, subject to allowing 7 days notice. In this event the member needs to give their reasons for calling the meeting. The Chair has final authority to decide whether the reasons put forward warrant a meeting of the whole group.

Administration
38. BMENational’s administrative arrangements will be kept to a minimum. Other members may be involved in the administration of particular events. These will be agreed in advance and will be task-related. If finacially viable, BMENational will consider recruiting a support worker to help deliver the key tasks.

Rule Changes
39. These rules may be altered by a resolution of an Annual General Meeting carried by a majority of at least two-thirds of those present where the meeting notice contained particulars about the proposed rule changes or by a majority (more than 50%) of those voting in a postal vote conducted across the whole membership.

Dissolution
40. The organisation may be dissolved by a resolution supported by at least two-thirds of the members present either at an AGM or at a special meeting the notice of which contained full particulars of the proposed resolution. The dissolution shall take effect on the day when the resolution is passed or such other date as may be stipulated in the resolution. The members of the Executive shall be responsible for the winding up of the organisation and in particular shall realise the assets of the organisation, discharge any debts and other obligations and distribute any surplus equally among the members of BMENational.

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