Creating a fairer Britain
Regeneration work in Hull is funded by central and local government investment but overseen by the Council. Work is planned and delivered in partnership with public and private agencies. A review of the local authority’s planning guidance was included as part of the equality impact assessment programme. This supported the Council's objective of creating an accessible city.
The Council established Hull Access Improvement Group (HAIG) a practitioners’ group of disabled people who were trained in reading planning documents and able to provide training to other disabled people. Following the revised planning guidance, the regeneration partnership undertook extensive public consultation (including with HAIG).
They then agreed to a significant change in policy: to incorporate ‘Lifetime homes’ standards into the planning requirements for the redevelopment. Concerns about resistance from developers have not materialised; they did not object to implementing these standards provided the requirement is built in at the design stage of any new project.
Responding to the duty to promote good relations among people of different groups, Fenland District Council developed a community forum drawn from its diverse population. Sub-groups were established from the forum to address specific issues: such the ‘out’, the ‘trans’, the Travellers and the learning disability forums. There is a very good working relationship among members of the community forum which was evident during their involvement in the successful 2008 multicultural festival.
As a result of involvement work with disabled residents, the London Borough of Camden identified issues with repairs contractors employed by the Council. In particular this highlighted a lack of awareness amongst contractors about the access needs of sensory impaired residents. Action was taken to address this by running training sessions for contractors who attended from 22 companies.
Merseyside Police Introduced a system which allows deaf people and people with hearing impairments to contact them and to report incidents to the control rooms by using mobile phone texting technology. To date, (summer 2009) the service has been used over 600 times.
Acting on concerns raised by disabled people on issues relating to disability Hate Crime, West Yorkshire Police established there were higher instances amongst individuals with learning difficulties. As a result, disability Hate Crime was placed on the agenda of the Force Hate Crime Co-ordinators meetings. Disabled people and individuals who work with disabled people have given presentations to the group. Training on Hate Crime issues is also being developed for disability support workers. New Hate Incident reporting centres at community locations used by disabled people are also being developed.
West Yorkshire Police developed a service level agreement with key disability support organisations and networks across the area. The purpose of this is to enable the Police to secure the input and expertise of disabled people in the development of their Equality Scheme, their policies and their Equality Impact Assessments.
A charitable donation will be given by the Police to identified disability support organisations who will, in return provide an agreed number of hour’s involvement in one of these projects.
Tayside Police arranged an open day about their work. This was an opportunity for them to witness mock custody cases involving domestic violence, drug possession, shoplifting theft and vulnerable witness evidence processes. The day was promoted to disabled people at the public launch of their Disability Equality Scheme. It was widely publicised through posters, radio and local newspapers. However, although it was very well attended, there was no uptake from wheelchair users or people with sensory impairments. When evaluating the event, it became clear that it would have been beneficial to carry out direct promotion to disabled people through disability related community forums and support organisations. This learning will be used in planning for similar events in the future.
Angus Council signed up to the “DisabledGo” project to enable Tayside Police to have each of their Angus police offices to be inspected with regard to their physical access. The findings were published on the “DisabledGo” website for disabled people. As a result, disabled people with internet access can now plan a trip to any police office in Angus. They can know before they leave home what kind of access and service provision they can expect when they arrive.
Access to hospital paediatric and maternity wards relied on verbal communication via an intercom which was identified as a barrier for deaf service users. There was no way to alert ward staff that a visitor or service user may be deaf or require assistance. To find a solution the equalities department at the Trust brought together deaf users, ward and estates staff and the intercom design company.
Deaf users were fully supportive of the need for ward security and worked to enable staff and designers to understand the barriers to communication. The designers were able to test a number of ideas and they came up with a range of solutions to improve communication. For example, illuminated assistance buttons and a text box with access instructions. In addition, the users commented on the poor general signage for the intercoms and advised on better pictorial signage.
The intercom will be piloted in the hospital and it is expected that recommendations will be made to roll out the new design further. Feedback from the design company indicated that this was the first time they had been asked to look at accessibility of intercoms. To build on this knowledge and understanding of communication issues and the barriers faced by users accessing services, a programme of deaf awareness training is under way, including staff on wards where the new intercom is being piloted.
Islington PCT set up a disability group with staff providing adult and children’s services as well as with representatives from Islington Disability Network, Islington Age Concern and Islington Borough Users Group (mental health).
The Group worked together to identify the priorities for disabled people. They developed initiatives to address any gaps and to improve services for disabled people. These included providing and disseminating information in alternative formats such as “easy read”. This included information about the Patient Advice and Liaison Service, about making a complaint, and about how to find a dentist locally. The PCT also provided a list of Pharmacies and information about their accessibility on their website.
The group reviewed a number of services and policies to ensure that they promoted disability equality. They took a number of actions as a result, including: steps to improve co-ordination amongst services for children with a disability and advice to all GPs, dentists, pharmacists and opticians in Islington about improving their services for disabled people, including about using British Sign Language (BSL) Services. They implemented a new BSL service for opticians in the area to carry out NHS eye checks and to screen people with diabetes for early signs of diabetic eye disease.
In 2007 Islington PCT’s disability group focussed on improving children’s services and introduced targets to improve co-ordination and integration of services for children with a disability. Over 60 families have a new, named, lead professional to act as a single point of contact for them. The lead professional co-ordinates single multiagency plans for every disabled child.
A new recruitment process for staff working in the children with a disability service was set up. Staff are interviewed by a panel which includes either parents or young people with a disability.
Together with the Islington Borough Council, the PCT links up with a local disability organisation for parents and carers and has introduced a new 8 weekly, talk shop for young people with a disability and parents who have a child with a disability. The talk shops focus on new service developments and agree actions to improve services.
Staff at Somerset PCT were invited to attend a one one-day course on ‘Communication Tactics with Deaf People, run by Hampshire Deaf Association. This promoted deaf awareness and advised on basic communication skills, particularly for those who rely on lip-reading. The day included a short test which gave staff the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in a practical way.
The PCT also held mandatory Equality and Diversity training courses which included a session run by two volunteers with hearing impairments. They communicated through British Sign Language and spent time talking about their experiences of using local healthcare services. Time was spent discussing with staff the improvements that could be made to improve the patient experience for those with hearing impairments.
Woodheys Primary School in Sale, Trafford has had many years’ experience of involving disabled children and their parents in the life of the school. For example, staff consulted a physically disabled pupil, S, and her mother about how the school could support her in getting the most out of an adventure holiday. This ensured a really positive experience that enhanced S’s confidence and she returned to school, according to the Head, ‘a transformed child’.
After progressing to secondary school, S was invited back to her primary school to comment on access for disabled children and adults. This resulted in many changes around the school, from car parking arrangements to the design of the waste bin in the toilet for disabled people. S is now on long-term work experience at the school and is involved in all aspects of classroom support.
As well as helping to design the new accessible outdoor activity trail, S is also beginning to support a vulnerable disabled pupil and his concerned parent to maximise the opportunities available to disabled children at the school. Having S regularly involved with the school over many years has enriched and deepened staff understanding of disability. It has also increased pupils’ learning about disability, as well as providing a role model for other disabled pupils.
For more information go to: www.woodheys.traffrd.sch.uk
As a result of involvement London Borough of Camden developed a new advisory service whereby fortnightly sessions are run for people with learning disabilities and their carers. The aim of the service is to prevent homelessness by helping people with learning disabilities find appropriate housing, including helping them to remain in their current accommodation if appropriate
With financial support provided through Dorset County Council, a local group for people with learning difficulties, SPOT, designed and purchased a quantity of brightly coloured wallets. These can easily be seen by bus drivers to signal to them that the passenger may require assistance. They contain journey information to help the holder communicate with the driver. The scheme will be extended to other forms of transport like railways and taxis, and it could be distributed to other groups whose members experience mobility difficulties.
Redbridge Council has established a ‘Children in Care Council’ (CiCC) to provide looked after children (children under the care of the Council) and care leavers with a voice and the opportunity to influence the care system in the borough. Children in care sit as councillors on the CiCC. A clear process has been established for the proposals made by the CiCC to be taken to the appropriate decision making in the authority. There are quarterly meetings between the CiCC and councillors with responsibility for children and young people’s issues in the borough.
“Because the (Children in Care) Council’s there everything is out in the open and things can get done.” Children in Care Councillor
The CiCC has helped shape changes to the care system designed to improve the service and increase the number of successful foster placements. For example, future recruitment of social workers will incorporate a session where shortlisted candidates meet a group of children in care as part of the interview process. The children’s views on the candidates will be fed into the selection process. In addition, the training of potential foster carers will include a presentation by the CiCC and follow up discussion between potential foster carers and members of the CiCC.
“I feel really happy about the changes that are being done, and really excited to be part of this.” Children Leaving Care Councillor
Gypsies and Travellers aren’t ‘hard to reach’ at all, they are ‘seldom reached’ groups and that’s the difference! (Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson).
In Wales, work is being done by the Welsh Assembly Government and by local authorities to increase the involvement of the Gypsy and Traveller community in the decision-making of public bodies. The work to encourage greater involvement by this community in Wales has highlighted that two significant barriers to greater involvement by this community are lack of trust and illiteracy.
Spending time with Gypsy and Traveller communities on site in a way that suited them was an effective strategy to change attitudes, increase trust and confidence and promote involvement. This approach can have the added benefit of increasing the confidence of communities to communicate effectively with officials such as those from the local authority.
At a local level, Gwynedd Council has encouraged council officers involved in working with the community to develop an awareness of the Romany, Irish and New Traveller culture, as well as an understanding of issues faced by Travelling Communities.
Because there are high levels of illiteracy, giving Gypsy and Travellers a hard copy of the strategy isn’t really going to work so we actually need to have one to one engagement with the members of the Gypsy Traveller community. (Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson)
To build capacity and overcome the barrier to involvement posed by high levels of illiteracy, a number of strategies were used. These included using the expertise of specialist and voluntary organisations to develop and deliver easy read versions of documents and speak to people about the issues. Capacity building was undertaken, for example by asking members of the community to work with their own communities to understand and discuss important issues. Steps were also taken to ensure that events were tailored to suit participants. For example, a range of single sex events and events for children and young people were held. The approach taken of national and local organisations working together can help to increase the benefits resulting, and it can save resources.
In the ‘Refugees into Libraries’ project, Leicester library services sought to involve refugees and asylum seekers in a volunteering scheme as a direct means of getting information about the needs of these communities in Leicester. This information was used to plan for and deliver library services in Leicester.
"We’re a library and information service and we have a duty to meet the needs of all sections of the community. Who better to understand these needs than people themselves?" Senior Community Librarian
The involvement process led the library service to revise their assumptions about what people wanted. They had expected that migrants and refugees would like to see more books and resources available in their own languages, but what they found following was that people actually wanted resources to help them to learn English.
The refugee volunteer group has been successful in influencing the development of new services in the library to address previously unmet needs. The volunteer group influenced development of study groups for English language practice, citizenship courses and IT skills, and stock and software choices. The library has increased membership from target communities and provides more services and products that better meet the needs of refugees and asylum seekers.
"It’s not about ticking the boxes, I hate that. It’s about the desire to actually involve those communities in the service and the way to do this isn’t just to talk to them about this, but is to actually do it." Senior Community Librarian
The Health Development Service in Coventry runs drop-in services and weekly advice sessions targeted at women in Asian communities in the most deprived parts of the city. The involvement of women from the community in identifying the barriers they experience in accessing health services, and proposing ways to improve services to overcome these, is integrated into work to raise health awareness and improve take-up of services through information, advice and support.
To encourage women to become involved, the service made it a priority to identify and overcome the barriers that prevented Asian women from getting involved with, and using, health services. For example, rather than asking women to come into the Health Development Unit offices, those involved in the work now go to where the women they want to reach are.
Regular women’s health sessions now take place in community centres, GP surgeries, temples and schools or centres near Mosques.
The benefits for participants include improved health outcomes, more opportunities to socialise and increased confidence and well being.
Benefits of the involvement include:
The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (GMPTE) has built on the work it undertook to develop its Disability Equality Scheme to involve disabled people in planning public transport provision. The GMPTE involved disabled people in its project to extend its Metrolink light rail network by establishing a Disability Design Reference Group (DDRG). The DDRG is a group of disabled people who have been involved in designing consultation processes and in the design stage of the Metrolink expansion. GMPTE commissioned a voluntary organisation with expertise in community participation and disability issues to manage recruitment and facilitation of the DDRG.
A genuine dialogue was encouraged and participants were given feedback about the effect they were having.
I never thought, after the first couple of meetings (when I saw the quality of the discussions) that we were being ignored or just ticking boxes. I always thought that they were listening to every word and gave a proper considered answer to everything... Yes, I always thought we were having an effect. Member of the Disability Design Reference Group, Metrolink expansion
Following the GMPTE’s work developing its Disability Equality Scheme, public transport services have become more accessible for disabled people. For example, there has been an increase in the availability of door to door transport services and improvements have been made to GMPTE’s website to provide more accessible information aimed at meeting the needs of disabled people. Involvement of disabled people on the Metrolink expansion has helped shape design of signs, ramps, pathways and lifts, and safety procedures for disabled people.
The Celebrate Age Network (CAN) Forum is an independent group that enables older people to get involved in the planning and development of public services in Dundee. The group membership is made up of older people who elect a committee annually to manage the work. An important focus for CAN has been increasing the capacity of older people to effectively participate in consultation and involvement opportunities.
Generally, the process of involvement is based on asking people to initially get involved in a small, discrete piece of work and then providing progression opportunities. For example they might start off taking a taxi journey for CAN as part of the Mystery Travelling Project and end up sitting round a table with the Head of Transport.
Once people become involved there is a process they can go through to support further (and deeper) involvement. Participants are provided with information, training and a mentor or ‘buddy’ to help them build capacity. Informal social activities are also arranged, as a way of encouraging participation.
Young people from South Norfolk led the planning and delivery of a training package for Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) aimed at tackling misconceptions and negative attitudes held by both sides.
Members of South Norfolk Youth Action (SNYA) and other young people who have had negative interactions with Police developed and delivered the training package, which was designed to reduce barriers to effective interactions between the groups.
"I wanted to get involved because of the misrepresentation of young people in the media….If we got involved in the training then PCSOs would understand that young people are not all bad." Member of South Norfolk Youth Action
"I learnt most about the Police themselves. I found out that they are just normal people. It gave me a sense of the work that they do…it’s a really tough job…If I’m worried about something (now) I’m more likely to go up to a PCSO." Member of South Norfolk Youth Action
The need to create a training package was identified through the ongoing work of South Norfolk Council (SNC) and Norfolk County Council (NCC) to involve young people in their decision making.