Equalities co-production initiative - development phase

(Amanda Heenan) #1

One of the legacy threads for the Pioneers Project is the development of an Equalities Partnership across the UK to bring equality focused organisations / groups / communities together to work together and learn from each other.

The purpose will be to engage with those those whose voices are not currently heard or represented in civic decision making, and develop capacity / address the barriers to participation. There should also be a principle of bridging the gap between disparate perspectives on equalities to expand beyond silo or protective perspectives on equalities. I believe that this can only happen if we can facilitate challenging conversations, between people and groups that may have very different perspectives. We are living in heightened times, where people feeling that their voices haven’t been heard, or have been dismissed, is having some serious consequences nationally and globally.

The Pioneers Project is proposing to support an initial development phase of this initiative, which would include:

  • Mapping out existing equalities / local interest group networks (tapping into existing community / equalities mapping initiatives, identify gaps where representation is missing across the equalities spectrum (including the spectrum that exists within each protected characteristic group, and the intersections across)
  • Reviewing data / research identifying inequalities and underrepresentation in civic engagement / decision making
  • Engaging individually with groups to explore their perspectives, visions and challenges. This would include facilitated sessions to explore individual identities, and how the relationships between peoples / organisation’s identities can lead to blindspots, barriers to collaborating
  • Facilitating an open conversation (event in / around February 2019) leading to a collective proposal to the Big Lottery UK
  • Providing support to write up the proposal

Centre for Good Relations and Arc of Inclusion are discussing supporting the Pioneers Project to develop this initiative with Ruchir.

We’ll keep you updated, and would welcome any thoughts / views / contributions, particularly given the equality and inclusion expertise within this network.

Best wishes,

(Paul Mutch) #2

Hi Amanda – I tried to reply to you last week but for technical reasons this apparently wasn’t received. I think the issues are now resolved, so trying again now in the hope that it gets through!

We’re conducting some work in this area which may be of interest. This is focussed on awareness of - and engagement with - freedom of information rights amongst children and young people in Scotland.

Recent polling by Ipsos MORI suggests a significant gap between awareness of FOI rights amongst young people and the wider population. There’s more information here but, in summary, 25% of secondary school pupils in Scotland reported an awareness of FOI, compared to
85% awareness amongst the adult population
. The survey also found that young people were not confident they would receive a response to any information request made to a public body.

In June we ran a workshop with members of the Scottish Youth Parliament to explore these findings and identify potential barriers to awareness and engagement.
The report from this workshop is published here
. A recurring theme was the perception by young people of a significant power imbalance between themselves and public organisations, with young people believing that their requests for information / attempts to engage with public bodies would not be taken seriously by those organisations.

We’re planning to take this work forward by working with partner organisations to develop resources to help build awareness and confidence around FOI amongst young people, while also reporting our findings back to public organisations to encourage them to consider their own approach to engaging young people in this area.

Hope this is useful, and best wishes for your future work. Look forward to hearing about the outputs.



(Amanda Heenan) #3

Hi Paul,

Thank you so much for this! I have had a quick read through the report (have set some time aside tomorrow to do some more work on this). It looks like it was a brilliant workshop! Fascinating to get a sense of what young people would like to find out about, and really helpful to have the iceberg model with reasons why confidence is low.

I was also involved in some work a few years ago with through a race equality forum in South Yorkshire, to raise awareness about FOI, and work together on putting some requests into the local authority and reviewing their responses.

Will certainly follow the progress of this, and see how the learning can be used across other protected characteristic groups. For example, I’m going to the Inclusion Scotland AGM next week, and, if I get an opportunity, will ask how FOI is being used amongst disabled people to scrutinise decision making around welfare reform, as well as other areas such as employment and pay rates for disabled people in public services.

Thanks again for sharing this, it’s stimulated a lot of thought.

All the best,

(Ruchir Shah) #4

Hi All.
Of relevance to this initiative, please see a new communication released online by Big Lottery Fund UK at https://bigmail.org.uk/3V8D-GLHN-0150MTYJA6/cr.aspx

New purpose:
We support people and communities to thrive
People in the Lead strategy.

From the end of January 2019 they will be known as:
The National Lottery Community Fund

I read this as indicating a strong shift to an equalities focus for the BLF UK.

(Elric Honoré) #5

This is brilliant - please keep me in the loop too. I started a early-mapping outline earlier in the year - it’s a big project and would need a collaborative approach to truly work out at national level - have a look at linked doc>

The angle we (FCE) are piloting work on is at local level/across all equalities and not in divided factions - not easy as but definetly something worth aspiring too, and somewhat more trustworthy if done transparently.

(Amanda Heenan) #6

Hi Eric,

Thanks very much for sharing this.

We’ll be updating the Wiki with our proposal, which we’ll hopefully be able to discuss further at the Open Gov mini summit in November.

Best wishes,

(Amanda Heenan) #7

Apologies, Elric!

(Amanda Heenan) #8

Hi again,

Many thanks again for your responses and insight. Here is a link to our proposal, please do add your thoughts, so that we can co-produce this assessment / development project: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZTsfaJpJ7AFWE8Wk1Fu0ZYh5mml67OWScfVOJKlMRVE/edit?usp=sharing

This way of co-producing online, is a new way of working for us, so I’m looking forward to learning as we go.

Best wishes,

(Sarah Hutchison) #9

Thanks for sharing this very interesting proposal, Amanda. I do have a thought to offer!

I agree the focus has to be on the quality of relationships between different stakeholders. From experience, relationships are significantly affected by understanding - and understanding is so often about where the power lies in access to relevant information. We’ve seen so many examples of communities only being able to communicate with public authorities when they have access to the same accurate, relevant and accessible information. It’s only once they have the same information that stakeholders can participate in a meaningful way.

The Scottish Rural Schools Network and the C Diff Justice Group case studies on our website at link are great examples (albeit rather old) - both organisations have engaged positively in relationships with the public sector to influence change.

It would be great to see the new project incorporating access to information in its relationship building.


(Amanda Heenan) #10

Thank you so much for that contribution Sarah. Knowledge is power, and as you’ve raised, accessible, relevant information, easily available to all who need it is a powerful way of levelling the playing field between people in communities and policy decision makers.

Working in the health service and public sector, nearly all the engagement I’ve been involved in has seen accessible information being the top priority of people we engaged. Accessible information, and knowing where to find it, when you need it.

The public sector talks so often of ‘hard to reach groups’, when the evidence so often shows that it is the policy makers and service designers who can be the hardest to reach, from the perspective of people in communities. As the public sector has undergone so much change and restructure in the last decade, navigating to the right person / information you need becomes even more challenging. Added to that, the jargon and language used in documents can make them opaque to people.

The case studies you shared are both powerful examples of FOI being used to campaign for change. The work done on FOI and young people shared by Paul in this thread is very insightful too.

I’m starting to develop a mind map of points and issues raised as we develop this project. I’ll keep a version on Google docs and share on the Wiki as things develop.

Thanks again for your input!

(Elric Honoré) #11

Fully agree there’s problems with settling with a ‘some people are just hard to reach’ viewpoint. Re: your point on transparency, I’d say its not only useful from campaigning for targeted change but also a whole support system to secure communities involvement - there’s some recent work from WWS on this (see ‘Hard to reach’ read as ‘easy to ignore’).

There’s a good focus at the moment on upskilling or capacity building for community engagement but that is not always designed and/or facilitated with the purpose of distributing influence through diversity and inclusion - unfortunately that’s often seen as something to do ‘after’ the initial unlocking of power structures rather than part & parcel.

Just as in PB leads into learning across local communities and budget holders, I think there’s scope in the co-production initiative to look at mutual learning between policy makers & equality groups - something like the ‘walk a mile in their shoe’ type ideas. Making transparent links between this learning and changes in policy or engagement would be pretty ambitious, but I think it could be piloted at least

(Amanda Heenan) #12

Hi all,

Thank you again for sharing your insight and information, it is all feeding into the pot!

Here is a link to to the Wiki, which we’ll be updating regularly - please do feel free to edit or contact us with suggestions: https://opengovpioneers.miraheze.org/wiki/Equalities_co-production_initiative#Equality_Good_Relations_Project. It includes a stakeholder list - please let us know where gaps are!

We are also developing communication to share with equality interest groups, who may be unfamiliar with either the Open Government Pioneers Project, or the Sustainable Development Goals. We are doing this in collaboration with The Friendly Information company - a social enterprise run by people with a range of disabilities. We will have this ready by 28 November.

We are also developing a reading list, which includes the resources you’ve referenced here and others that are informing this project. Please do feel free to add to it.

We look forward to meeting those of you who are attending the mini summit on 28 November and at other opportunities, as we develop the project together.

Thanks again and best wishes,
Amanda & Sam

(Elric Honoré) #13

Thanks Amanda & Sam - I’ll pm you to set a time to chat this week coming, can chip in with what we’ve learnt so far from the local angle. By the way you might know of this already as it much closer to you than us up here - in 1 week there’s https://www.thepublicsquare.org.uk/ - might be worth having the equalities angle there at the launch if you were linking up with more orgs for this initiative

(Amanda Heenan) #14

The webpage for the Equalities Good Relations Project has been launched today, with an invitation to get involved. Thank you again for all your input so far. Here’s the link - would be grateful if you could share across your networks: https://www.arcofinclusion.co.uk/equalities-good-relations-project.

Please also hold the date of the 27the February if you would like to attend the open conversation event in Edinburgh (please register your interest on the web page above).

I’ve also updated the Project Wiki page, to include a list of organisations we are inviting to participate. Please can you let us know if we have any gaps in our list, or if you have any other feedback: https://opengovpioneers.miraheze.org/wiki/Equalities_co-production_initiative#Making_links

Thank you!

Wishing you a peaceful and joyful festive season and look forward to being in touch in the New Year.