May 2008   Issue 18 header_top

1. Equality and Human rights

Report about the value and unmet needs of London’s equality sectors published

London is one of the most diverse cities in the world. It needs a third sector that reflects and represents its diversity to deliver a more equal society for all of us. "Gaps and Solutions", published by HEAR last month, considers how support for London’s third sector might be developed to build a more diverse and integrated third sector by better meeting the needs of frontline equality organisations (i.e. those that are ‘led by, and for’ specific communities and people who experience discrimination including Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people, children and young people, disabled people, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, older people, people of particular religion or belief, refugees and migrants, and women). The report highlights the value of frontline equality organisations, presents information about the support needs specific to particular equality sectors; furthers the debate about the respective roles of specialist equalities and mainstream support providers in meeting these needs; and makes a number of recommendations aimed at improving support for frontline equality organisations. To download the executive summary and full report visit ROTA

In this issue:
01Equality and Human rights
02Crime and Anti-social behaviour
03Community Empowerment and Cohesion
04Education and Young People
05Third Sector News

Human Rights Inquiry – Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced on 6th March 2008 that it was proposing to launch an inquiry to find out how public authorities are responding to the Human Rights Act. The inquiry is about establishing how public authorities, such as hospitals, schools or local and national government offices, make sure they treat people well and in line with the requirements of the Human Rights Act.

Under the Human Rights Act, “public authorities” includes both those bodies which would usually be thought of as public authorities (like local authorities) but also private or voluntary organisations when they are carrying out public functions (for example, a private company running a prison).

The EHRC needs you to help them build up an accurate picture of how well things are working now so that they can recommend improvements for the future. To participate in the consultation click HERE

ROTA has provided feedback on the EHRC’s Human Rights Inquiry Terms of Reference. For a copy please visit the What’s New section of our website ROTA


Research projects commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission

As part of its Human Rights Inquiry, the Equality and Human Rights Commission is commissioning three research projects:

  • Evaluating the impact of selected cases under the Human Rights Act on public service provision

  • The impact of human rights culture on public sector organisations: the lessons of good practice

  • The role and experience of inspection and complaints bodies in promoting human rights standards in public services

We were very pleased to hear that the Commission will be investing some considerable resources into this important matter, but we are concerned with the procurement process they have adopted.

In particular, the timescales for the tendering process as well as for the delivery of the three projects are so tight that makes it almost impossible for groups and organisations in the Third Sector to participate. The Call for Proposals was made on the 21st of April and the deadline for bids is 1 May (8 working days). The draft final report for each project is 31 July.

As a BAME policy infrastructure organisation, ROTA is well aware that many BAME groups and organisations working in the Third Sector would be keen to bid for these project either individually or after forming consortiums with other organisations. However, we are also well aware of the time constraints put upon them by limitations in resources and staff. Therefore, we believe that as it stands the Call for Proposals is directed solely to large organisations mainly from private sector. We are planning to continue this debate with the Commission. For more information and to join us please email Theo Gavrielides

2. Crime and Anti-social behaviour

Race and Violent Crime in the media – A Runnymeade Report

The Runnymeade Trust has released a report on the role of themedia in portraying race and violent crime. The report highlights the impact that the media has in policy formation and public opinion and therefore, the responsibility that they have for the image of ethnic minority communities that they portray. The report also highlights the disproportionate levels of BAME individuals working within the media and calls for ‘increased diversity in the press room’. With the levels of violent crime amongst teenagers last year, and the focus that this has drawn to black communities in London this piece of research is very important. ROTA’s Building Bridge Project highlights the concern that young people have around how the media represents them and the impact that this has. Given the media’s focus on London and the diversity of London’s community ROTA welcomes this report. It can be downloaded HERE

3. Community Empowerment and Cohesion

Consultation on Cohesion Guidance for Funders

In August 2006, the government established the Commission on Integration and Cohesion as an independent body to consider how barriers to integration and cohesion might be overcome. In its final report, Our Shared Future, published in June 2007, the Commission recommended that ‘single groups’ (e.g. BAME organisations and other groups supporting specific equality communities) should be funded as an exception.

In its response to the recommendations, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) acknowledged the importance of single groups in supporting the most marginalised communities, yet it agreed that funding should focus primarily on supporting the coming together of different communities rather than a single identity. DCLG’s response sets out actions government will take to implement some of the Commission’s recommendations, including producing guidance for funders on how funding streams can be used to promote community cohesion. DCLG are now consulting on this guidance until 26 May 2008. The guidance as it stands is confusing about whether or not ‘single groups’ should be funded and There is a great deal of concern within the third sector and amongst many funders in London about it. To find out more click HERE To find out what ROTA, HEAR and other organisations have done on the matter please contact Theo Gavrielides

The Community Power Pack

On the 9th of April, the Department of Communities and Local Government published The Community Power Pack which was produced to help groups at the local level organise and facilitate discussions on the topic of empowerment. The pack contains information on key empowerment issues and advice for organisers. Feedback received will be used to inform the Empowerment White Paper. A copy can be downloaded HERE

Sister Circle London: Supporting African Caribbean Women

The recent foundation of Sister Circle, a London based networking group, is thought to offer hope to Black women seeking their desired position in the work place. It is modelled on African-American groups such as the League of Black Women and the Executive Leadership Council with the aim of supporting women that aspire to occupy positions of influence in the workplace and other areas of society. The framework of the organisation will allow for networking events with the objective of expanding black women’s professional horizons through gaining thoughtful insights into different areas of employment.

Research conducted by the organisation of ‘100 London Black Women expressed the awareness black women have of the challenges they face in the job market, however views were optimistic for the future. Speaking at their launch event Dawn Butler MP expressed how: “there is real requirement for skills and abilities to be recognised by employers. Sharing experiences in a safe environment will empower more women to achieve their goals and know anything is possible.” For more information contact Anthony Salla

Seminar: ‘Increasing Employment Rates for Ethnic Minorities Turning Rhetoric into Action’ – 19 May 2008

A CPPS seminar for the National Audit Office will consider how to reduce the employment gap between the ethnic minority and general populations. Speakers include the Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP (Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform), Alan Christie (Equality and Human Rights Commission) and Steve Williams (Head of Equality and Diversity Services at ACAS). The seminar is on Monday 19 May in London. Click HERE for details.

4. Education and Young People

Independent Academic Research Studies’ - Free Youth into Policy Conference and AGM Thursday 29th May, Friends House, 173 Euston Road

On the 29th May, Independent Academic Research Studies (IARS) will be holding its Youth into Policy Conference and AGM. IARS, a youth led policy think tank specialising in human rights, equalities, restorative justice and criminal justice believes that youth empowerment is important for policy making. The aim of the event is to promote the youth led approach to policy making through evidence-based research and youth empowerment.

The event will showcase how youth led research can influence policy . IARS’ projects include: the Homophobic Bullying and Human Rights project, our youth led hate crime project, and the Youth Empowerment Project.

The event is free and open to all organisations and individuals who are interested in youth policy, and will provide an invaluable opportunity to network with other youth organisations and share examples of best practice.

There will be speeches from Terry Ryall, CEO of V the national volunteering charity and Dr. Darren Sharpe from the Young Research Network of the National Youth Agency. There will also be a number of workshops held by Children’s Rights Alliance for England (on youth empowerment through rights), Race on the Agenda (on guns, gangs and knives: a youth BME perspective, IARS (on youth led policy), Betta Dayz (on youth led conflict resolution), and the LGBT Consortium (on LGBT inclusion).

To book your place please visit IARS and fill out the booking form or contact Alex Burch

Youth in Action workshop

London Councils’ European Service will host a workshop on the Youth in Action programme at the offices of London’s economic development company Greater London Enterprise (GLE), in London Bridge, on 16 May. Youth in Action provides opportunities for young people to get involved in projects with young people from other EU states. The workshop is one of series designed to update boroughs on the EU funding opportunities open to them. For more information contact: Hazell Jarvis

Interim report by teachers union on Gangs and Schools

Research conducted by PRCI for the teachers' union Nasuwt has recommended the idea of sending ex-gang members into schools and taking students on prison visits in a bid to address gang and violent culture. Interim findings from the Gangs and Schools report, which is being prepared by PRCI has suggested that using ex-gang members and peers in a mentoring capacity alongside prison visits being used to highlight the consequences of subscribing to gang lifestyles. The report also advocates restorative justice models, peace treaties between community leaders and policies to deal with those excluded from school to prevent their further involvement gang activities. ROTA’s Building Bridges Project has explored the role of ex-gang members and peers in mentoring schemes and highlighted good practice examples of where this has worked. ROTA’s research will highlight the important role that schools play with this issue so it is key that teachers unions are beginning to investigate this issue. For further information on this report please click HERE. For further information on the Building Bridges Project please contact Carlene Firmin

New Working Group to address Child Poverty in London

On 03 April, London Child Poverty Ministers Beverley Hughes and Stephen Timms announced a new working group bringing together councils and businesses across London to help bring children out of poverty. The working group is made up the Greater London Authority, employers, local authorities and other delivery organisations and aims to look to find better ways to work together to cut the number of children who live in poverty. In a bid to address Child Poverty specific policies are being developed for London such as setting up of the London Child Poverty Ministerial Working Group which will look issues around childcare and supporting parents in work, extending the London Childcare Affordability Pilots to look at new approaches to childcare, especially for additional earners and families with three or more children and piloting a scheme to provide extra incentives for parents in London to return to work, building on lessons learned from ongoing pilots. ROTA welcomes a focus on London, especially due to the disproportionate levels of BAME families living in poverty in London. However, we would also err on the side of caution with such a strong focus on employment. Quality of childcare and other key policy issues also need to be considered when addressing children in poverty. For further information on the new working group pleaseclick HERE

5.0 Third Sector News

ChangeUp National Support Services are now in operation

All nine of the national support services’ (NSS) started running on 1 April, with six lead agencies receiving some early money to make sure they are in a position to hit the ground running. Free services and information are being provided to the third sector in the following areas: Campaigning and Advocacy (led by NCVO); Equalities and Diversity (led by the Women's Resource Centre); Income Generation (led by ACEVO); Leadership and Governance (led by NCVO); Marketing and Communications (led by the Media Trust); Modernising Volunteering (led by Volunteering England); Performance Management (led by the Charities Evaluation Services); Collaboration (led by bassac) and Responding to Social Change (led by NCVO). Further information is available HERE

LVSC Manifesto - Mayoral Elections
London’s Voluntary and Community Sector issues challenge to Mayoral candidates

Commissioned by London Voluntary Service Council (LVSC), a coalition of London's voluntary and community groups has released a Mayoral Manifesto. It outlines the areas in which they think the new Mayor can make a difference to the lives of Londoners and poses seven questions relating to the health of the sector. Candidates have been challenged to respond to the questions and LVSC will publish any feedback on its website. The website which can be accessed by clicking HERE also provides a list of London based BAME organisations with contact details.

This year’s budget

This year’s budget included a number of measures set to impact on London’s third sector including:

  • A commitment to see three year funding agreements the norm for the third sector (this commitment was also made in last year’s budget);

  • A number of measures to increase charitable giving through Gift Aid;

  • A promise to continue to pay Gift Aid at a rate of 22%, even though income tax has fallen;

  • A new programme to enable local third sector support organisations to claim Gift Aid on behalf of other smaller organisations.

The Thriving Third Sector Indicator for Local Area Agreements

Local Area Agreements (LAAs) are contracts between local and central government that set out plans for improving local services. They include targets set by local authorities in agreement with their Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) and Government Office. They are focused around four blocks of children and young people, safer and stronger communities, healthier communities and older people, and economic development and enterprise.

DCLG have developed 198 National Indicators on which all local authorities will be judged as part of their Comprehensive Area Assessment. Local authorities can choose up to 35 of these to focus on in their Local Area Agreements. The government consulted on these National Indicators towards the end of last year. Following on from this, finalised definitions have now been published for 138 of the indicators. To find out more please click HERE.

National Indicator 7 tests whether there is a healthy, thriving local third sector and it has been guestimated that almost a third of London boroughs will select it. A survey will be used to measure this indicator, which will ask about how local statutory bodies influence the success of third sector organisations, the strength of local partnership arrangements, the funding and resource relationship between the sectors, and the opportunities available for the third sector organisation to influence local decisions. The baseline survey will be undertaken this Autumn. The National Association of Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA) has suggested that groups could lobby their regional government office to agree to use different local surveys to measure this indicator. The Office of the Third Sector has also produced a briefing on the measurement of National Indicator 7, which is available HERE.