Equality and diversity
Recognising our diverse communities
Waveney District Council is working closely with Suffolk Coastal District Council to effectively promote access to services for all its communities and support community cohesion to improve the quality of lives of its residents.
Recognising our diverse communities, the Council works closely with partners to ensure that our residents are treated equally and fairly through the delivery of our services and in our community leadership role. Both Councils are working to meet their obligations under the Equalities Act 2010 and three specific duties:
- Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation
- Advance equality of opportunity across equality groups
- Foster good relations between different equality groups
Policies and key actions and decisions are taken in consideration of the wider community (nine protected Characteristic groups) which include the following:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Race (including ethnic or national origins, colour or nationality)
- Religion or belief
- Sex (gender)
- Sexual orientation
- Socially excluded
Waveney and Suffolk Coastal District Councils have added a tenth equality group (Socially excluded) based on the socio-demographics and pockets of deprivation that exist, particularly in urban Lowestoft and the rural communities.
The councils' approach
The councils adopt a broad approach to meeting their equality duty to promote access to services for all of their communities as follows:
Community Development Team - Waveney District Council employs a small Community Development Team to provide capacity working across in-house services, with partners, Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) and community groups, to address equality issues particularly across deprived wards.
Services for All Group - A single Equality and Diversity group represented by service areas and council members working across both councils to drive equality improvements through a progressive action plan and provision of training and development across the councils.
Human Resources - A key aim of the Human Resources (HR) and Payroll Team is to drive the transformation and organisational development of both Council's, while at the same time ensuring that both councils are meeting their ethical and legal responsibilities in respect of all employment and workforce matters including the equality duty. The HR and Payroll team ensures the councils have the right numbers of people, with the right skills, in the right place at the right time to deliver our vision and objectives. They do this by providing services, advice and guidance on people management matters and by leading on Organisational Development and the Workforce Development Strategy. This work ensures that the Council has a productive and skilled workforce, enables the Corporate Management Team to plan in the medium to long term what staff it will need, engages and supports staff in organisational change and has effective policies in place which support diversity and good people management.
Training and development provision - Regular training workshops are provided across both councils to elected members and officers including Equality and Diversity duties and responsibilities, Equality Impact Analysis, Safeguarding children, Community Mapping. Staff maintain up to date awareness through attendance at equality and diversity training, seminars and workshops and working closely with minority groups, Voluntary Sector and community organisations and with partners.
Equality Impact Analysis - The Councils carry out Equality Impact Analysis where appropriate to promote access to services for their wider communities, eliminate discrimination and advance equality in the actions, policies and decisions that both Councils take. The Equality Impact Analysis form serves as a useful prompt when considering the wider community and to record the positive actions, decisions and outcomes taken through the analysis process.
Single Equality Scheme - Waveney and Suffolk Coastal District Council Equality Scheme
Community mapping - Council members and officers are informed and updated of their community makeup, demographic changes and key community issues on an annual basis, through workshops, State of the District reports and through links to other data sources e.g. Suffolk Observatory. This information and knowledge is used to inform the Equality Impact Analysis process, prioritising and key decisions.
Consultation and Engagement
Waveney Community Cohesion Partnership
This Partnership is supported by minority groups, partner, VCS and community organisations and Waveney District Council officers from the Community Development Team. The partnership meets on a quarterly basis to share learning, knowledge, experiences and good practice and to support and promote community cohesion across the district, to improve the quality of lives of local communities. This is achieved through leading, promoting, and supporting each others events and workshops and taking positive action together, to address issues and realise potential opportunities across the district and the region.
Local Strategic Partnership
The Council works closely with other key partners including other public sector organisations, the VCS and community organisations across the District. The partnership consults and engages with communities and shares knowledge and information to inform and deliver the Waveney Sustainable Community Strategy. The strategy, a long term vision for the district to 2028, prioritises the key issues for the wider communities, informing funding, resource allocation and action planning, to make a positive difference to Waveney citizens and local communities.
Minority group workshops
The Community Development Team facilitate consultation and engagement events across the district with communities including older people, young people and people with disabilities, to identify issues and blockages preventing or impeding access to the Council's services. The information received is shared across both Waveney and Suffolk Coastal District Councils with members and officers to inform service design.
Further direct engagement
The Council is working to ensure that communities have a 'voice' and a say in service provision and council issues. This is achieved through the engagement and close working and support of the Waveney Youth Council, Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNT's), older people groups including Partnership with Older People (Pops) and the Waveney Disability Forum. The Council recently consulted its communities regarding its medium term financial strategy to inform the prioritisation of the budgeting process. The Community Development Team are also promoting and leading Community Led Planning across urban and rural parishes in Waveney in partnership with Suffolk Coastal District Council, Suffolk Acre and the Community Forum, to facilitate wider community engagement to inform the future of their communities.
Use of existing available consultation feedback
Consultation reports and other reliable sources of information and other reliable sources of information is also used to inform service design, prioritising and decision making, reducing 'consultation overload' and promoting efficiency. Sources include the Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transsexual (LGB&T) survey, Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), Suffolk Needs Assessment and the Suffolk Observatory.
The Council will continue to conduct internal and external equality monitoring to inform its policies and ensure that it is meeting its commitment to equal opportunity for all staff and its communities. To meet this commitment, the Council will on occasions request information relating to the 'Protected Characteristics'. We understand that some people will be reluctant to provide personal information relating for example to their age or sexuality and we will respect their decision. We will treat the information that is provided with discretion and appropriate confidentiality and data controls. The information will be used to ensure that we are providing employment and services in a fair, accessible and equitable manner.
A number of the councils' front facing services are in regular contact, engagement and discussion with the Councils customers and use the feedback and information received from them to inform their particular service.
Waveney District Council takes its equality duty and responsibility seriously and through its Services for All group will drive the continuous improvement in access to services for all of the district communities. To this end, the councils Services For All group are addressing a progressive action plan to improve its policies and improvements and are also driving the Equality Objectives to ensure we meet the needs of our most vulnerable communities and achieve our statutory Equality duty.
The council will keep the objectives and action plan under continuous review and will update from time to time as required.
The Council will continually review and update its equality information and this website as it continues to make progress in meeting its equality duty.