Valrec – Valleys Race Equality Council - was set up in April 1997 as a response to the growing number of racial incidents among its small number of Black and ethnic minorities residing in the Valleys.
The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) was instrumental in establishing Valrec and ensuring support for its work. The CRE continued to work closely with Valrec until being subsumed into the Equality and Human Rights Commission along with the DRC and EOC.
Legislation was passed in 2006 to establish a new Commission for Equality and Human Rights and modernise the law so that public bodies have new duties to promote equality and good relations between people of different groups. The new body bought together the work of the three existing Commissions - the Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission - and added to its responsibility the 3 new equalities - relating to age, religion or belief and sexuality.
Following a thorough consultation process and in line with the new Equalities and Human Rights Commission, Valrec has now become a Regional Equalities Council dealing with all equality mandates (see appendix 1).
Valrec is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity. It is a member led organisation with a diverse and growing membership of over 400 people drawn from local communities in the Valleys. Its areas of benefit include the County Boroughs of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Torfaen.
High unemployment among the Welsh communities in the Valleys, outward migration of those with the skills and motivation to create jobs, lack of inward investment, geographical isolation, poor social and economic infrastructure, all have contributed to a feeling of socio-deprivation. In this economic and social environment, those wishing to stir up hatred towards ethnic minorities could find fertile ground.
Traditionally Valrec has concerned itself with supporting victims of discrimination and crime. This work has continued and VALREC now operates a very effective case work system which has received the Quality Assurance Mark of the Community Legal Service.
In recent years however Valrec has taken the conscious decision to develop a more proactive approach to its work. So, in addition to case work, Valrec now undertakes a variety of community development work involving the creation of networks of interest for mutual support, focus group work to influence public policy, training of public service managers, consultation group work and, increasingly, working with young people and women in order to offer support - and encourage their engagement and self esteem.