At Forest Lodge Education Centre for the second time in three days - this time for a full meeting of Leicester Partnership.
The meeting is preceded by a buffet lunch in honour of Philip Parkinson, who is retiring today as Chair.
One of our duties as Host Organisation for the communities of interest of faith or belief has been to obtain the services of two representatives of that community at large, who can attend full meetings of the Partnership and act as channels of communication in both directions. For one reason or another (ill health, family support, work commitments) the two representatives who have held these positions for almost the past couple of years haven't been able to perform these tasks to the full. Today, Tony and Minou are attending, as named substitutes with full voting rights. I'm at my first meeting of the Partnership, as a substitute myself, for Dee Martin, representing the Equality and Diversity Partnership. I am entitled to attend these meetings normally, but as VCS / Host Organisation contact, with voting rights and only able to speak if asked for clarification.
The character and function of Leicester Partnership is changing. Today we are voting on acceptance of a new constitution and for the election of a new Vice Chair. The new Chair will automatically be Leader of Leicester City Council. The constitution is passed en bloc, with notes for the attention of the Partnership Executive. The new Vice Chair is Iris Lightfoote, Chief Executive of The Race Equality Centre and Chair of the Regional Equality and Diversity Partnership (REDP). This is a good thing for equalities in general in the city - and for the Equality and Diversity Partnership (EDP) in particular. Members of that partnership live from hand-to-mouth in an atmosphere where we never seem to be wholly welcome. We didn't even know if we'd be funded for our activities after today. The Chair assures the meeting that EDP is funded till 31 March. His further comments that the Leicester Partnership Executive will have to consider how it embeds equalities into all aspects of the Partnership's work sounds to me like a door being wedged open.