Black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities have been among the groups worst hit by the coronavirus, and for many BAME families, the spectre of financial hardship now looms dangerously close.
People from BAME groups have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 with communities such as British Bangladeshis twice as likely to die from the virus as the wider White British population, and British Pakistanis almost 1.5 times more likely. British Turks (including Turks, Kurds and Turkish Cypriots) have also fared poorly when compared with other Turkish-origin diaspora communities in Europe. The British journalist and activist of Turkish Cypriot heritage, Ipek Ozerim told Reuters that some 137 of the 500,000-strong British Turkish population have died, a much higher proportion than its German counterpart of 4 million that has seen around 87 deaths.
In general, Muslim males have suffered with the highest rate of fatalities in England and Wales. In the early months of the pandemic this rate stood at 198.9 deaths per 100,000 people according to the Office of National Statistics. There is a stark contrast between this figure and the mortality rate among people who do not identify with any religion which was 80.7 per 100,000.
These statistics have an important bearing on the food and hospitality sector. British Bangladeshis run around 80% of all UK Indian restaurants, while people with origins from Muslim-majority countries including Turkey and Pakistan are also well represented among eatery and takeaway workers, particularly in the Kebab Industry.
Members of these communities have been some of the worst affected by Covid-19, and the restaurant owners and staff among them are also at risk of losing their livelihoods. Many BAME-run food businesses are under immense financial pressure brought on by the coronavirus lockdown. Left empty, many local restaurants and takeaways have had no choice but to rely on delivery giants JustEat, Uber Eats and Deliveroo to maintain revenue sources. These firms however are known to levy exorbitant commission fees of up to 35%, eating into vital income needed by small restaurants to shoulder basic running costs including staff wages, supplies and utility bills.
“20% of [our income goes to] workers, 25% to meat and chicken, which is really expensive right now, so we’re not very happy, we’re struggling at the moment” Murat, who runs Capital Restaurant in Wood Green, North London told BritShish. “We are a restaurant with 300 seats capacity, which is very high, and because of the lockdown we only have the option to takeaway, which is not enough for us,” the kebab restaurant manager added.
“Because the charges of the delivery partners — JustEat and Uber Eats — are very high, it is very complicated, so they need to help us with the percentage, maybe put it a bit lower down.”
Many BAME-owned restaurants are struggling to survive in these difficult times. You can support your favourite local restaurants and takeaways by ordering your food with cafes and restaurants directly — and avoiding Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats. Get the message out by posting on social media with the hashtag #DropTheApp.