Monday, 27 June 2011


The Core Partners of the Regional Equality and Diversity Partnership have been conducting "peer evaluations" of each other's role in the project. Leicester Council of Faiths has carried out a peer evaluation of the Leicester Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Centre and they have done the same for us. Here's the evaluation of how we've performed with REDP to date:

1.  What do you identify as the benefit of being involved in REDP? 
Involvement in REDP has helped our organisation establish Religion or Belief (as one of the new kids on the block, in terms of equality legislation) as a serious “Protected Characteristic”. We hope that it has helped show those who may be said to adhere to an old-fashioned hierarchy of equalities that no Protected Characteristic can be treated as more or less important than any of the others. 

Involvement in REDP has helped contextualise Religion or Belief as one amongst a specifically identified number of “Protected Characteristics”. We hope that this has helped show those who would make special claims for the significance of Religion or Belief that equalities fit together and that they cannot do good in society if they are in competition for top spot. 

Involvement in REDP has been the single most significant factor in making the post of our Equality and Diversity Officer sustainable. Without the income obtained through work done for REDP, it is highly likely that this post would not now exist. Consequently, our organisation has been able to do many things made possible only by the contribution of REDP toward sustainability of this post.

2.  How do you represent REDP reports to your Governing Body?
A Personnel Management Group, comprising senior officers of the organisation, past and present, receives regular updates on work done for / with REDP, directly from our Equality and Diversity Officer in writing and face-t-face in regular meetings.

Our Equality and Diversity Officer reports, verbally and in writing, to regular meetings of our Board of Directors and of the full membership.

Updates on issues related to REDP are posted on our Equality and Diversity Officer’s blog and by him on our organisation’s Twitter feed. Members of our governing body are at liberty to read and comment these and to ask any questions about them that they consider appropriate or necessary.

3.  How do you include REDP principles in the general work of your organisation?
Leicester Council of Faiths is a user-led organisation, representing the major faith communities in the city. It is our policy and practice to move forward together, rather than favour the interests of one or other particular community. We recognise the place of the Protected Characteristics in relation to religion and to the faith communities represented. A person’s faith – or the absence of it – is one part of their identity. For some it may be the most important part in terms of how they see themselves or want to be seen; in others it will be of lesser significance. This may vary any particular person at different times in their lives as their circumstances and fortunes change. There are older Baha’is, disabled Buddhists, gay Christians, Hindus with learning difficulties, Jains with mental health issues, Jews in civil partnerships, Muslims of different racial or ethnic background, Sikhs who are pregnant or in the early stages of parenthood. Being a person of faith, or being affiliated to any particular religion, does not balance, cancel out or confer immunity from any of the other Protected Characteristics. Our organisation acknowledges this and we work to raise similar awareness among our members and the communities they represent and with whom they work of the cross-cutting nature of equalities, as they affect individuals, families, communities and society.

4.  What is the percentage of time spent on REDP business as an overall percentage of your business
In terms of the work of our Equality and Diversity Officer, at last 50% of the working week.

5.  In what way has your involvement enabled you to develop your organisation?
Involvement in REDP has established a new sense and practice of partnership between Leicester and Council of Faiths and the three other Core Partners and, to a lesser extent, with the organisations who comprise the wider membership of the Core Reference Group.

Involvement in REDP has helped our organisation develop skills and knowledge, through collaborative working with the other Core Partners, which have, to differing degrees filled the role of mentors to us in this work.

It has also enabled and empowered us to appear in arenas and forums of debate and discussion where a more strictly constrained inter-faith organisation might find it difficult to be included or invited.

6.  What skills, knowledge and experience have you been able to bring to REDP
First and foremost, specialist knowledge and experience of religion or belief as a Protected Characteristic.

As an organisation, Leicester Council of Faiths brings to the table a quarter of a century of shared experience working with the diversity of the faith communities in the city and beyond. Many of our members occupy prominent and influential positions in their own – and the wider – community. The organisation’s good name and positive reputation shouldn’t be underestimated as a strong, positive contribution to REDP.

As an individual, our Equality and Diversity Officer (who does virtually all the work on behalf of Leicester Council of Faiths for / with REDP) has been able to draw on lengthy experience in adult education (including a period of specialist teaching inside the mental health service), in the world of publishing, as a copy-writer, editor and proof-reader, and many years working in multicultural, multi-faith settings (this last since as far back as 1979).

7.  How have you been able to use the information you have gained from REDP to benefit your stakeholders?
By helping ensure a more accurate, up-to-date and realistic knowledge and understanding of the facts and implications of legislation.

By subtly yet assertively challenging some of the lingering prejudices against individuals and groups associated with other Protected Characteristics (e.g. disabled people, people identifying with LGBT issues).

8.  As a Core Member, how have you been able to influence the direction of REDP?
Regular input at monthly meetings of Core Partners and to the business carried on between them.

Frequent contribution to comments and criticism of documents related to our areas of interest. Our organisation has led on some of these (e.g. Celebrating Civil Partnerships on Religious Premises; Developing Indicators to Measure National Well-Being; Worklessness and Benefit Dependency

Commitment to and development of use of social media (blogging, Facebook, Twitter) to help promote the work of REDP. Our organisation has been leading on this since May 2011.

Involvement in planning and execution of briefings, conferences, seminars and similar events.

9.  How has your involvement ensured that milestones are achieved?
See response to 8 above and 10 below.

Also, as one of the Core Partners, Leicester Council of Faiths has contributed to the design and refinement of milestones for the project.

10. How have you been able to interact with the Core Reference Group?
Regular input at meetings of Core Reference Group and to its business carried on between them.

Frequent contribution to comments and criticism of documents related to its areas of interest.

Researching, identifying and recommending potential members of the Core Reference Group to fill seats for different Protected Characteristics.

11. In considering the evaluation of the first year what changes did you make in the way that you worked with REDP?
Equality and Diversity Officer sought to obtain more direct and personal “buy in” from Directors of our organisation, assisting commitment and appreciation of the organisation to REDP.

12. What changes if any do you feel REDP needs to undertake to be sustainable in the future?
We need to develop a brighter, more dynamic and attractive virtual presence, making us easier to find – and more attractive and appealing when people do find us!

We need to exploit every opportunity to ensure that our name and mission is known everywhere and by everyone whom we want to know about us. We have done very little to promote ourselves in the media for example; we should certainly do more of this.

We have to be – and appear to be – more inclusive. I’m afraid that sometimes we may appear to be following an old-fashioned agenda that looks more 20th century than 21st. Sometimes we can be perceived as more backward-glancing than forward-looking.

I don’t believe we’re making the most of the Diversity aspect of our name, our opportunities or our work. We can appear too legalistic, which I fear is putting off some of those we could be helping – and who could be helping us.

As a group, we’ve developed particular strengths in the planning and hosting of events. We should capitalise on this.

We need to establish ourselves as a brand encompassing all that goes with that in terms of expectation, identity, loyalty, reputation. When the topic of Equality and Diversity comes up, REDP should be the first name on the team sheet!

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