Equality South West is concerned the recently-released report Creating the Conditions for Integration shows the government’s equality strategy is to walk away, leaving volunteers, charities and businesses to take up the slack.
Recommendations in the report to combat discrimination include encouraging communities to hold a ‘Big lunch’ and a music day, together with urging children to join the Guides, scouts, cadets and St John Ambulance.
The report states: “The government is committed to rebalancing activity from centrally-led to locally-led action and from the public to the voluntary and private sectors… this could mean the activities of community groups, successful individuals and businesses choosing to reinvest in their wider community.”
Equality South West chief executive Katie Pratt said: “Equality is too important an issue to be left to chance. We can’t rely on people ‘choosing’ to reinvest in their community – the government should be leading the way, not sitting back and waiting to be invited to lunch!
“We need to get rid of the myth that by suddenly stepping back and ‘allowing’ people to tackle inequality, prejudice will disappear. There are many well-meaning individuals out there, but they need guidance, support and funding to challenge the inequalities in our society.”
Equality South West is particularly worried by the shift of emphasis from helping victims of prejudice to seemingly blaming them, as signalled by the line ‘Our first question must always be how can people contribute to building an integrated England ?’.
Katie said: “What message does this send out to people? That unless they have something to contribute, then we’re not interested?
“In one sentence this report turns on its head the wisdom that the law should protect vulnerable individuals in our society. The government should be challenging prejudice, not challenging the victims of prejudice about their ‘contribution’ to society.”
Equality South West is next month holding an event, Making an impact on equality: challenging prejudice and changing behaviour, at which the report will be discussed. Hosted by Plymouth University on May 9, there are speakers from the Government Equalities Office, Kick It Out and the Institute of Health Equity. Spaces are still available from Samantha.firstname.lastname@example.org
(from a press release)