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Why do we continue to explore community leadership and representation? Simply put, it is because this is an area that continues to pose practice challenges to meaningful community involvement. London Civic Forum (LCF) is one organisation among many that continues to have a tremendous opportunity to assist in answering this question as we have a specific programme that we are running linked to this issue. LCF seeks to enable a wider range of Londoners to participate in London's democracy, building a community of people committed to inclusive engagement and supporting our members in influencing policy issues of different concerns.
Strong, yet different views are held within communities about the meaning of community leadership and representation and there is contention even in deciding whether these are the preferred terms to use or not. Whatever terminology we choose to use the bottom line is the roles that come along with these labels are necessary to have any influence and we need to engage with them. Where these labels derive their legitimacy from is another issue which is not the focus here however it is important to begin to understand some of the main routes into community leadership and representation. The following six routes (which I am sure we can at least identify with one of) were identified through Community Development Foundation's Practice Links project report (2007) self-selection; activism; professional experience; hand-picked by outside agencies; externally accredited, and media-made.
Effective community leadership and representation help create a shared vision of what needs to happen, why it should happen and who should...
Established in 2002, the Equality and Diversity Forum is a network of national organisations working together to promote equality and human rights.
Five years ago, when the Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF) started, there were already many organisations working to promote equality and human rights, and prevent discrimination in Britain. These included the statutory commissions on disability, gender and race; non-statutory organisations such as Stonewall and Fawcett championing gay and women's rights; human rights organisations like Liberty and JUSTICE; advice agencies and legal service providers; and policy-focussed organisations including those working at a regional level like Race On The Agenda (ROTA). Perhaps most important were the many small voluntary and community organisations around the country providing services on the ground to improve individuals' daily lives. Such organisations have developed enormous experience and expertise in specific fields of discrimination, often over many years. There will always be a need for bodies campaigning on single issues and providing dedicated services. What was missing was recognition of the linkages between different forms of inequality and human rights, and a space for organisations to work together in common cause, when useful. This has been the space filled by EDF.
The catalyst for change came from Europe. In 2000, the Employment and Race Directives required European Union member states to make discrimination unlawful in the areas of race, disability, religion and belief, sexual orientation and age, thus...