Women’s voices in community planning

Woman with loudspeaker‘Community Planning is about the structures, processes and behaviours necessary to ensure that organisations work together and with communities to improve the quality of people’s lives, through more effective, joined up and appropriate delivery of services’

This is the definition used by both the Scottish Executive and Communities Scotland at the beginning of the Community Planning process.  It is, therefore, essentially about the process for improving services to local areas in a ‘joined up’ way.

Equality was supposed to be embedded throughout the process and was legally defined by the Scotland Act rather than UK legislation, giving it a far wider interpretation.  Community Planning was therefore an opportunity for women in  communities to not only Influence how services were delivered but also to ensure an equalities perspective was part of that service delivery.

Women in communities therefore needed to know what was happening, what questions to ask and what support they were entitled to have in order to hold policy makers to account.

Engender ran training courses for women in 3 areas of Scotland, including Glasgow.   Part of the focus of the training was to try to demystify the Community Planning process in order for women to be able to understand and influence that process, in particular the delivery of community services to meet that community’s needs.   We developed some materials/exercises specifically aimed at challenging policy makers and ensuring that women made a difference at community level.   Prior to the training, very few of the women participants had heard of the Community Planning process.   During the training, we were able to highlight opportunities for women to become more involved and it was useful having Community Planning experts’ input.  However, due to the fairly bureaucratic structure and membership of Community Planning Partnerships, it seemed that the whole process was being overseen by the ‘usual suspects’ ie officials, Councillors etc.

Clearly, the key organisation for ensuring Community Planning succeeds, is the local authority and yet local authorities in general are perceived as being remote from their ‘communities’.  One of the assumptions made in the development stage of Community Planning was that ‘communities’ are aware of how local authorities and other public bodies work.  In reality, people have very little understanding of how policy/decision makers operate.  Yet, the decisions that they make affect the whole community.

If women are to play their part in working towards a more inclusive community, through the Community Planning process, then they need to have the resources available for them to understand the structures that control that process.  Women are usually fairly active in organisations within their own communities and are often heading up lone parents families.  They therefore have little time to participate in ‘another structure’ unless they can influence that structure.

Women are also not homogenous.  Engender has been working with some Gypsy/Traveller women over the past few months, trying to engage with them and encourage them to be more active/vocal in relation to services provided by local authorities and other agencies.  However, as they are an under-represented group, they are even more marginalized in relation to the whole Community Planning process.  If the Community Planning process is to be successful in that all ‘communities’ are actively engaged in relation to service delivery, then some thought and resources have to go into ensuring that equality and diversity are embedded in that process.

Community Planning as a process for involvement and influence by the whole community has now been around for a reasonable length of time and yet, it is still seen as a ‘mystery’ to lots of women within their own community.

Jeanette Timmins,
Engender, 26 Albany St, Edinburgh EH1 3QH
Tel: 0131 558 9596 info@engender.org.uk

Community Planning and the Equalities Hub

Equalities Hub staffGlasgow is abuzz with rumour about the Equalities Hub. Who is involved? Who is in charge? Has it got any money? How can I get hold of some of it? What’s it all about anyway?

This article answers some of those questions.

The legal bit

The law says that Community Planning Partnerships (CPP) must:

  Make sure people and communities are genuinely engaged in the decisions made on public services which affect us (‘community engagement’).

  Ensure organisations work together in providing better public services (emergency services, Council services, education, employment, enterprise, transport etc).

           Encourage equal opportunities, specifically on the grounds of sex or marital status, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, language or social origin, religious and political beliefs.

The Glasgow Equalities Hub process

In January 2006 Glasgow Community Planning Partnership (CPP) asked Glasgow’s four Voluntary Sector Equality Networks to develop ideas for a new body or structure (an ‘Equalities Hub’) to help them to tackle equalities in community engagement.

Glasgow Disability Alliance, Glasgow Black Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Network, Glasgow Women’s Voluntary Sector Network and the West of Scotland LGBT Forum have been negotiating with Glasgow Community Planning Ltd since then.  Glasgow CPP has now agreed to fund an Equalities Hub to March 2008 – up to £115,199 for 06/07 and up to £263,104 for 07/08. The funding is for:

Initial consultation and development activities (the ‘Hub’ defining its priorities by talking to the 10 Local Community Planning Hubs, 3 Thematic Social Inclusion Partnerships (SIPs), equalities groups/organisations, public service providers and other key stakeholders).

  • Implementation activities (training and support to improve equalities in community engagement for the Local Hubs, Thematic SIPs, equalities groups, public service providers and other stakeholders).
  • Measuring activities (ensuring that all Community planning partners agree on measures, indicators and data collection methods for equalities in community engagement).
  • Publicity activities (telling people what the Equalities Hub is doing).
  • A full time Manager, full time Admin/Finance Officer, 4 x half post Development Workers and some specialised sessional staffing to implement these activities.
  • Office costs for the workers.
  • Development and support for the Equalities Hub Directors (developing policies, training needs analysis, development days).

Who is in charge of the Equalities Hub?

The management of the Hub is being undertaken by a new Limited Company: Glasgow Equalities Partnership (GEP). This Company has been formed collectively by the four Equality Networks each of which can have two GEP Directors.

GEP will hold the funding for the Equalities Hub, will be responsible for ensuring that the work of the Hub is successfully delivered against defined benchmarks, and will be responsible for employing any staff.  As with any funding arrangement, GEP will be accountable to Glasgow Community Planning Ltd for the Equalities Hub programme of work.

Karen Willey – Manager; Karen Gould – Administrator; Heather McArthur – Development Officer (Disabilities); Jean Monaghan – Development Officer (LGBT); Maryam Wasim – Development Officer (BME)Who’s who then?

Most of the staff are now in place.  They are:

Karen Willey – Manager

Karen Gould – Administrator

Heather McArthur – Development Officer (Disabilities)

Jean Monaghan – Development Officer (LGBT)

Maryam Wasim – Development Officer (BME)

The only post currently vacant is the Development Officer (Women).

Where are they?

The team are in the process of setting up their office – there are no email addresses yet but you can write to them at: Suite 311, The Pentagon Centre, 36 Washington Street, Glasgow G3 8AZ or Telephone 0141 221 8938

What will the Equalities Hub actually do?

Broadly, the Equalities Hub will make sure:

  That public services and other Community Planning structures follow best practice in engaging with the diverse communities of Glasgow

  That all Glasgow’s diverse communities have the right support to tell public services and other Community Planning structures what they want.

  That the delivery of public services genuinely becomes more equal as a result of this community engagement.

The Equalities Hub will complement and support the Community Planning community engagement work done by the 10 Local Community Planning Hubs and the 3 Thematic SIPs (Glasgow Anti Racist Alliance, Routes Out of Prostitution and The Big Step).






Two examples

1. The Equalities Hub might train and support public transport providers to talk in the most appropriate and meaningful ways with LGBT groups about local and citywide transport needs; the Equalities Hub might also support Local Hubs’ involvement in this process; the Equalities Hub could then work with LGBT communities, Local Hubs and public transport providers to help them measure real resultant differences in transport provision for LGBT groups.

2. Job Centre Plus might review their policies and practices on making their service meaningful to Black and Ethnic Minority (BEM) communities across Glasgow. The Equalities Hub could work with them, Local Hubs and the Thematic SIP (Glasgow Anti Racist Alliance) to ensure that they hold effective consultation events which take into account the diversity of the BEM community. The Equalities Hub could again work with all to agree measures of equalities success from the process.

How should I keep in touch with the Equalities Hub?

The four Glasgow Equalities Partnership Directors are:

Harriette Campbell Glasgow Women’s Voluntary Sector Network

Alistair Smith The West of Scotland LGBT Forum 0141 221 7203

Jatin Haria Glasgow Black Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Network

Tressa Burke Glasgow Disability Alliance

Equalities Hub developments will be reported by the Directors to their own specific Equality Network meetings. So, if you work in your own interests’ area in the voluntary or community sector, this is another reason to join the relevant Network for you. Please contact the relevant person above if you are interested in becoming involved.

You should also look out for opportunities to start to engage with the Equalities Hub staff in stakeholder events starting as soon as the staff have been through their induction process and the priorities agreed with the GEP Board.

Richard Brunner, Equality Networks Development Worker, Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector, 1 November 2006 (with an update by Karen Willey, Manager,  Equalities Hub, February 2007)

Richard moved on to a new job at the end of 2006, the current Equality Networks Development Worker at GCVS is Ruth Forrest. You can contact Ruth on 0141 332 2444 or email Ruth Forrest