POWERFUL EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS BODY TO OPERATE FROM OCTOBER 2007
A radical new body with powers to tackle discrimination and prejudice and put equality at the heart of modern Britain has been set out last week in the Government's Equality Bill. Individuals suffering discrimination would have easier access to support and employers improved advice and information in the one-stop shop offered by the single Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) from October 2007.
The CEHR would bring together the work of the Commission for Racial Equality, the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission and put expertise on equality, diversity and human rights in one place.
For the first time the CEHR would also have responsibility for the new equality areas of age, religion and belief and sexual orientation and would work to promote human rights. It would have a better range of powers to enforce legislation flexibly and promote equality for all.
The CEHR would be required to produce a regular 'equality health check' for Britain and to work with individuals, communities, businesses and public services to find new, more effective ways to give everyone in society the chance to achieve their full potential.
The Equality Bill also includes new powers to outlaw discrimination on grounds of religion or belief and creates a duty on public authorities to promote equality of opportunity between men and women and prohibit sex discrimination in the exercise of public functions.
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Minister for Women and
Equality Patricia Hewitt said:- "The Equality Bill marks a transformation in the way modern Britain tackles discrimination and disadvantage. The new Commission on Equality and Human Rights will help ensure that every individual can fulfil their potential and that discrimination, prejudice and inequality have no place in modern British society. The CEHR will have a greater impact than the existing commissions because its wider remit will make it a stronger champion for all. The new Commission will work with individuals, equality organisations, public bodies and employers to deliver lasting changes in policy and practice. It will have tougher powers to tackle discrimination, new responsibilities to foster good relations between communities and new ways of working to provide easier access to information and advice for individuals."
David Lammy, Minister for Human Rights said:- "The CEHR will be a landmark in the development of a human rights culture in this country. As well as promoting the importance of human rights, the new Commission will be well-placed to build links between work on human rights, equality and strong communities."
The Equality Bill being published today follows wide-ranging consultation with those involved in promoting equality and tackling discrimination, including equality and human rights organisations, business, trade unions and public bodies.
Over 400 organisations and individuals responded to the consultation, which resulted in some key changes to the Government's original proposals and growing support for the establishment of the CEHR.
The purpose of the Equality Bill is to:-
1. Establish the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) and to define its purpose and functions;
2. Make unlawful discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the provision of goods, facilities, services, premises, education and the exercise of public functions (subject to certain exemptions);
3. Create a duty on public authorities to promote equality of opportunity between men and women (the gender duty) and to prohibit sex discrimination in the exercise of public functions.
The Bill sets out the duties and powers of the CEHR. The Commission will have general powers to publish or disseminate ideas and information, to give advice and guidance, to undertake research, to provide education and training and to publish and disseminate ideas and information. It will have the power to work in partnership with and provide grant aid to others in support of its functions.
The CEHR will have a range of powers to promote equality and tackle discrimination. These include:-
1. A new duty to consult with stakeholders to ensure all groups have an opportunity to participate and engage in its work;
2. A new duty to monitor progress on equality, human rights and good relations between communities, through publishing a regular 'state of the nation' report
3. A new duty to promote good relations between and within communities, across all sections of society
4. An explicit role to combat prejudice and work to reduce crime affecting particular communities, including new powers to monitor hate crimes
5. A regional presence across the country, and in Scotland and Wales.
LOCAL WOMAN SKYDIVES FOR CHARITY
STEPHANIE Cockwill from Southport will be taking part in the thrilling challenge of a lifetime by completing a tandem parachute jump on 26 March for children's charity Get Kids Going! who provide sports wheelchairs for disabled children and young people.
Stephanie has always wondered what it would be like to freefall from an aircraft at 10,000 feet at speeds at over 120 mph, and chose to make this her challenge for 2005.
Over 30,000 people make their first parachute jump each year, but over 10 times that amount think about doing one.
"The idea of jumping for charity will hopefully help me make the plunge," said Stephanie.
Asked why she chose Get Kids Going! for her sponsorship she said:- "I really wanted to jump to help disabled children and young people to get them going! These children desperately need wheelchairs to get about and compete in sports such as marathons, basketball and tennis. The average cost of a sports wheelchair is £3,000. So I am hoping to raise as much as I can for Get Kids Going!"
There is no other charity quite like Get Kids Going! as it not only provides disabled kids and youngsters with desperately needed equipment but it gives them a life of their own with a fantastic interest and participation in sport. Get Kids Going! also helps provide sports training, physiotherapy, travel to sporting events and design of sports wheelchairs with the aim of helping British children and young people become World and Olympic champions! The President of Get Kids Going! is double Gold Olympic medallist and leader of the London 2012 Olympic bid, Lord Sebastian Coe, OBE. The charity's Vice President is Paralympic record holder Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson OBE.
Stephanie's adventure begins at the North West Parachute Centre in Cark near Flookburgh, Cumbria where a qualified instructor will train her. Then Stephanie and the other brave parachute jumpers will be taken up in the plane to complete their jump. At the end of the day she'll be awarded a British Parachute Association Jump Certificate and will have raised valuable funds for Get Kids Going!
To support Get Kids Going! or to find out how to take part in a charity skydive yourself, contact 0207 481 8110 or visit www.getkidsgoing.com. There are over 20 centres around the UK and if you need a little moral support, you can jump with group of friends or colleagues.
Letter to Editor:-
"Year of the Volunteer 2005"
DEAR Editor, "I would like to thank all the children and young people who volunteered during the second month of the Year of the Volunteer 2005.
February was Youth and Children Month and across the country over 50 projects and events attracted new volunteers and helped promote the diverse and dynamic volunteering children and young people do.
Discussions on volunteering's 'bling factor' highlighted how young people bring a fresh and exciting approach to volunteering. There was no greater display of this than the launch of a video produced by Barnardo's that featured various volunteering projects from mentoring to swimming instructors to working in an animal shelter.
Youth and Children Month has showed the nation that young people and children are passionate about quality, well-supported volunteering opportunities, where they are given the freedom to be creative in helping others. Using the forthcoming Russell Commission recommendations, we will be working throughout the rest of the year to keep young people engaged with the campaign and enthused about volunteering."
Daniel Wood, Chair British Youth Council (BYC), Lead Partner 'Youth and Children Month' Year of the Volunteer 2005,
Liverpool kids become paperback writers
SCHOOL CHILDREN in Liverpool will become paperback writers this week to celebrate World Book Day. Kids will learn all the tricks of the trade, from book-making to illustration, as well as drama and poetry at Lower Lee School in Woolton. Budding bookworms from the school will be joined by more than 30 pupils from neighbouring Hope School, Abbot's Lea and Palmerston School for a series of creative workshops. Each of the hour-long sessions will be led by experts in that field; book-making with Mairie Gelling, illustration with Louise Woods, poetry with Curtis Watt and drama with Chris Douglas and Andrew Davies.
Teacher Glenys Reynolds, co-ordinator of the event, said:- "We take our culture very seriously at Lower Lee School and thought we would celebrate World Book Day in true Capital of Culture style. "The sessions will be great fun for the children and will hopefully encourage a real love of books."
Liverpool City Council's executive member for education, Councillor Paul Clein, said:-
"This is a great way for our children to mark World Book Day. The activities will be very stimulating and will encourage a love of books, which will hopefully stay with the children for life. Who knows, we may even find Liverpool's very own J.K.