In with the new

Posted on 3rd February 2012 by

It’s New Year, new Chief Executive here at Impetus. Steve Lawless has left us after 7 years service to Impetus and a lifetime of service to communities – we thank him very much for his expertise, commitment and positive contributions!

I’ve been in post part-time since the beginning of January, taking over full-time from Steve on 1 February and so far so good! One of my challenges will be to balance the needs of a changing and growing organisation with external representation and strategic influencing.

This week I’ve been writing our response to the Brighton & Hove Council consultation on their Equality and Inclusion policy.

The full response is here (click to download)

If you don’t want to read the whole thing, our key points are:

We would like to have seen a more ambitious and innovative approach to equalities, making more of the wide resources that the City can access within its community and voluntary sector, and beyond. My experience with CityCamp last year showed me that there is an appetite beyond the public and voluntary sectors to contribute to making the city better – we should be trying to tap into this.

It is difficult to respond to a consultation on a series of objectives in the absence of a clearer policy direction, and that the objectives set out are really so high level that they have lost their meaning.  Because of this I think there will be a hard job of work for the Council to do to convince people that this policy is more than lip service. I hope to pick this up with Cllr Ben Duncan, member for Communities, Equalities and Public Protection in the near future.

We would like to see detail in the policy about how Equality & Inclusion will be embedded across council processes and strategic frameworks. For example, how will ambitions on equalities be truly reflected in commissioners practice?

I am still learning about the nitty gritty of Equalities Impact Assessments (EIAs) within local government here, but it seems that with an ageing population and predictions of a much greater over 85 population, that will have multiple support needs, separating ‘Older People’ out from ‘Age’ as a specific category in EIAs would be sensible.

Finally, it was surprising to see no reference to volunteering within the consultation, and given that we are all trying to connect people and unlock capacity within communities, this seems like a big omission. This will be particularly important in universal and public-facing services, such as libraries, that are making increased used of volunteers alongside staff.

We do welcome the opportunity to be involved in developing Equality & Inclusion policy locally, and will continue work with colleagues in the community and voluntary sector, council members and officers on this. Please feel free to get in touch with any comments or suggestions on our response.


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