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					                                                      Minutes – 20th October 2003


                               Equalities Taskforce

                                Held: 20 October 2003

Present:       Kerstin Carpenter – Chief Executive & Town Clerk‟s Department
               (Chair)
               Kimberley Hall – Chief Executive & Town Clerk‟s Department (Vice-
               Chair)
               Mark Thres – Leisure, Culture & Amenity Services
               Liz Dedman – SOLACE
               Jane Rose – Borough Treasurer‟s Department (Housing Benefits)
               Martina Lee – Borough Treasurer‟s (Internal Audit)
               Mike Gatrell – Department of Social Care (Housing)
               Emma Thomas – Chief Executive & Town Clerk‟s Department (Media
               & Communications)
               Theodore Thio – Technical & Environmental Services
               Donna Hallissey – Southend Adult Community College
               Stephen Robinson – Southend Primary Care Trust
               Robert Harris – Unison / Chief Executive & Town Clerk‟s Department

Apologies:     David Baxter – Technical & Environmental Services
               Ann Johnstone – Education & Lifelong Learning Department
               Steve Currell – advised that he would attend the later session to give
               feedback from the Police and arrived after the meeting had been
               concluded.

Start / finish: 10.00-11.30


1.     Minutes

       The minutes of the meeting held on15 September 2003 were confirmed as a
       correct record.

2.     Matters arising

       (a) Membership – The taskforce was informed that Mark Thres had replaced
       Tracy Jessop as one of the representatives for the Department of Leisure,
       Culture & Amenity Services (LCAS).

       (b) Minutes of the Equalities Taskforce – Kerstin Carpenter reported that the
       minutes of the meeting held on 15 September 2003 were submitted to OMB.
       One of the issues discussed was the lack of attendance and the subsequent
       cancellation of the corporate equalities training due to lack of attendance,
       particularly with regard to Management training. It was expected that the
       training provided will not be cancelled in the future if Directors encourage staff
       to attend.




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                                                    Minutes – 20th October 2003



3.   Communications

     (a) Cascade of information within departments

     Kerstin Carpenter re-emphasised the importance to build on the existing
     network of communications between departments and staff and it was
     essential that other forums where the information needs to be shared about
     equalities are contacted and involved. Each member of the taskforce should
     be using existing networks to raise awareness about the what we are doing
     around equality and future plans. Kerstin Carpenter & Kimberley Hall are
     available to provide any help or assistance that may be required (i.e.
     providing presentations to the various groups / forums / etc).

     The taskforce received feedback from members about how they were
     disseminating information within their departments, as below:-

     (i) Media & Communications (CETC Department) – Emma Thomas reported
     that an article had been placed in September‟s edition of the Southend
     Staffer. An article was also to be placed in the local press with regard to the
     work of the taskforce following consideration at Cabinet of the Equalities &
     Diversity Report (item 5 below).

     (ii) Technical & Environmental Services – Theodore Thio reported that he was
     currently liaising with Group Managers on a one-to-one basis and had
     identified that Managers were unaware of the internal process to meet the
     Equality Standards and the work of the taskforce. Kerstin Carpenter
     emphasised that this should be raised at Departmental Management Teams
     and filtered down.

     (iii) Borough Treasurers – Martina Lee highlighted that Kimberley Hall had
     attended the Staff Forum and had received comments / feedback on the self
     assessment form. Jane Rose reported that she had been unable to dedicate
     the appropriate time to equalities and would be meeting with Patrick Nolan to
     review and possibly nominate someone else who could dedicate the time.
     Kerstin Carpenter suggested that two people could share the work.

     (iv) Social Care – Mike Gatrell reported that the departmental Equalities &
     Diversity Steering Group had been set up for some time and was currently
     finalising the Departmental Action Plan for Equalities, which will provide a
     formalised structure for communicating equalities. The whole process is
     being governed by the DMT and John Nawrockyi (Director of Social Care)
     would chair the Steering Group and would also be attending future meetings
     of the taskforce.

     It was requested that the minutes of the Steering Group and the Action Plan
     be submitted to the taskforce for information. It was noted that the Social
     Care Action Plan would be very useful in helping other departments develop
     their equalities action plans.

     (v) Education and Lifelong Learning – Nick Carter and Ann Johnston were not
     in attendance to report back but Donna Hallissey outlined how information is
     being shared at the Adult Community College.




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                                                   Minutes – 20th October 2003

4.   Desktop Audit

     Kimberley Hall presented a breakdown of evidence required for obtaining
     level 1 of the Equality Standard, which had been updated since the last
     meeting. The information outlined the Council‟s current position, what further
     work/evidence was required and what work would continue to be done for the
     audit.

     It was advised that due to time constraints it had not been possible for the
     taskforce to undertake the self assessment audit but the results form the
     Audit for level 1 would be presented to the next meeting of the taskforce.
     Gaps in the evidence required for the audit had already been identified which
     will need to be closed to ensure that Level 1 of the Standard is achieved by
     December 2003. Kimberley Hall, Kerstin Carpenter and Martina Lee would
     have a pre-meeting in November to review progress and the formal audit will
     be undertaken later in the month by Kerstin Carpenter, Kimberley Hall and Liz
     Dedman from SOLACE. Feedback would be provided at the next meeting.

     It was emphasised that a more detailed audit had to take place in order to
     meet the requirements of Level 2 of the Standard.

     Concerns were expressed with regard to evidencing and measuring equality
     for “classes” as outlined in the self-assessment template. The categories
     have been taken from the Equalities Standard and were there as a reminder
     that the categories of race, disability and gender would be expanded in due
     course. It was accepted that “class” would be a difficult area to evidence and
     that the taskforce may recommend that it is not appropriate for Southend. Liz
     Dedman explained that class affects all areas of equality (i.e. race and
     religion) and would therefore be a theme throughout the other equality issues
     anyway (i.e. race, religion and gender).

5.   Cabinet Report

     The Taskforce received a report considered by the Council‟s Cabinet on 14
     October 2003 which aimed to bring together all policies related to equality. It
     was essential that the information contained in the report is communicated to
     all DMT‟s and staff. The report will also be available via the intranet in due
     course.

6.   Staff Questionnaire

     The taskforce was asked at the last meeting to provide feedback on the staff
     questionnaire. A number of comments were made as outlined below:-

        The main concern appeared to be how complicated the form might be for
         staff, who in the main would probably have a general lack of knowledge
         about equalities. Kerstin Carpenter emphasised that at this stage this
         was one of the reasons for developing the questionnaire in this format – to
         give an indication of what knowledge there is amongst staff, so that we
         can target specific area‟s of weakness (even if the results are that all
         area‟s of knowledge need to be developed).

        It was also highlighted that most staff do not have time to complete
         questionnaires due to other work commitments. The importance of the
         questionnaire will be strongly emphasised when sent out to all staff,


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                                                    Minutes – 20th October 2003


         perhaps by way of a covering letter from the Chief Executive and Town
         Clerk.

        Robert Harris reported that there was not a section of questions related to
         the new Employment (Sexual Orientation) Regulations which come into
         force in December 2003. This would be included.

     Donna Hallissey suggested that the Adult Community College could
     undertake a pilot of the questionnaire with its Management team. This would
     be a good way to take this forward.

     Kerstin Carpenter drew attention to a similar questionnaire which was being
     developed by David Watts (DTES). KC / KH would follow this up.

     Agreed:

     1. That Donna Hallissey provide feedback on the pilot of the questionnaire
     with the Adult Community College.

     2. That each departmental representative identify between 5-10 staff to
     undertake the pilot study / test from their respective departments. All names
     to be submitted to Kerstin Carpenter by 31 October 2003.

     ACTION: Donna Hallissey / ALL

7.   Process for external communication

     The taskforce received a paper from Liz Dedman which outlined what is
     meant by external communication (community engagement) and provided
     guidance for carrying out external consultation. The paper also identified how
     to ensure that an appropriate strategy is developed. The consultation
     strategy, once developed, will be brought together with the Communication
     Strategy which was agreed at the last meeting.

     It was reported that the wider consultation (external) would take place in early
     2004 and consideration had to be given to the method the local authority will
     use to consult with the community (i.e. hard-to-reach groups) and how the
     community could be engaged in the process. A new post of Policy and
     Consultation Officer has been created in the Chief Executive and Town
     Clerks department, who could help with this work once they are in post.

     It was outlined that the results of the staff consultation would be incorporated /
     included in the community consultation questionnaire. This will hopefully help
     prevent any duplication of information collected.

     Agreed:

     1. That comments and suggestions for developing a consultation (community
     engagement) strategy be submitted to the next meeting, including idea‟s on
     which groups / individuals should be included in the consultation.

     ACTION: ALL




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                                                    Minutes – 20th October 2003

8.   Training

     (a) Corporate Training

     It was indicated that the DMT‟s will be requested to encourage all staff to
     attend and participate in the corporate training for equalities. OMB had also
     requested that all managers attend management training, the main one being
     the Equalities Action Planning Course for Managers.

     It was reiterated that the departmental representatives on the taskforce
     should be promoting equalities training within their respective departments.
     Equalities will also be raised through the staff appraisal scheme which was
     currently taking place in each department.

     Martina Lee advised that the Borough Treasurers department has Investors in
     People (IIP) and each person has to draw up individual training / action plans.
     Perhaps equalities training could be included as part of that? Also when the
     development of Personal Development Plans is rolled out across the Council
     equalities training could be included fro all staff.

     (b) Taskforce training

     The taskforce had identified at the last meeting the need to undertake some
     training in respect to legislation, currently in place and being developed (i.e.
     Disability Discrimination Act 2003).

     It was reported that in order to obtain level 2 of the Standard more specific
     training would be necessary for the taskforce members (i.e. for carrying out
     interviews with staff about their knowledge of equalities).

9.   Feedback from the Disabled Access Working Party

     Kimberley Hall provided feedback from the initial meetings of the Disabled
     Access Working Party. It was highlighted that Councillor Mrs Weaver had
     been appointed as Chair and that members included Councillors, officers, the
     Primary Care Trust and disabled groups. The main focus of the Working
     Party is the implementation of Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act,
     which comes into effect in October 2004 and relates to access to buildings
     and services. The Act affects all organisations who offer services to the
     public, including the Police and PCT, not just the Council.

     It was emphasised that that consultants have been engaged to assist the
     Council in meeting it‟s statutory obligations. An audit of Council buildings is
     currently being undertaken and an Action Plan will be developed as a result of
     that, which will include timescales and financial implications.

     A budget of £250, 000 has been set aside for this year to commence the work
     advised by the consultants and it is hoped that further provision will be made
     in future budgets. Graham Swan will be asked to attend a future meeting and
     provide a breakdown / feedback on the procedures which will be put in place.

9.   Southend Ethnic Minority Forum

     Kimberley Hall provided feedback from the launch of the Southend Ethnic
     Minority Forum which took place on 10 October 2003 and was sponsored by


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                                                   Minutes – 20th October 2003


      KeyMed. The Deputy Mayor and Lady Mayoress both attended and the
      Deputy Mayor provided a short address, which was well received. A number
      of organisations attended and also 50 children attended who provided a
      range of dances (i.e. Irish, belly-dancing, Asian, African etc).

      The Ethnic Minority Forum was originally chaired by Southend Police and met
      twice a year. The launch followed the election of a chair, vice-chairs and a
      management in September. The Chair of the Forum is a member of the
      Steering Committee of “Southend Together” (the local strategic partnership
      for Southend).


10.   South Essex Racial Incidents Panel

      Clive Mardner was unable to attend and would provide the presentation at the
      next meeting.


11.   Mechanisms for reporting harassment in departments

      Kerstin Carpenter reported that the mechanisms for reporting harassment of
      staff and the public, needed to be identified and then further developed on a
      corporate basis. It was outlined that all corporate and departmental policies
      relating to harassment will need to be reviewed in line with the Equality
      Standard. Part of the process will be to look at how information is collected
      across the whole authority, how the information is communicated to the
      public, who analyses the information and where it can be accessed from.

      Stephen Robinson reported that the Primary Care Trust had a process and
      questionnaire in place; however, there were concerns that the forms were not
      being used enough. It was evident that some form of awareness raising
      exercise would need to be undertaken, both at the PCT and the Council.

      Agreed:

      1. All taskforce members to forward to Kerstin Carpenter / Kimberley Hall by
      31 October 2003 details of the current position with processes and
      procedures in place in each department and identify policies which were
      being developed for reporting and recording incidents of harassment.

      2. That Stephen Robinson provide feedback on the processes and
      procedures in place for reporting and recording harassment at the PCT at the
      next meeting.

      ACTION: ALL / Stephen Robinson


12    Feedback session

      (a) Primary Care Trust

      Stephen Robinson reported that it was essential to ensure that all policies and
      strategies are jointly developed between the PCT and Local Authority as
      there were issues with regard to the partnership arrangements for the
      employment of staff between the PCT and local authority.


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                                                      Minutes – 20th October 2003



     (b) Adult Community College

     Donna Hallissey reported that the college was currently bringing together all
     work on equalities done externally which included a risk assessment on
     access for disabled people to services and facilities. Part of this process is to
     review the popularity of courses and to look at what would attract local people
     to particular courses (i.e. the majority of residents in Shoebury may wish to
     learn Spanish).

     The College had also undertaken an „Around the World in a Day‟ conference /
     seminar as part of family awareness week and approximately 300 people
     attended which proved very successful. The College would like to fund a
     similar event in the future, possibly on a yearly basis. The feedback from the
     conference / seminar was currently being assessed and the results would be
     provided to a future meeting of the taskforce.

     The College was developing a City & Guilds course which will offer a module
     on training to identify referrals for frontline staff (i.e. who to refer problems /
     complaints / etc) to remove the „barriers‟ from access to services. A pilot
     study would be undertaken to identify any areas which could be adapted or
     changed which could also be incorporated into the local authority‟s
     procedures and policies.


13   Date and time of next meeting

     Monday 24 November 2003 at 10.00am




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