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Council approves new actions to promote equality and tackle discrimination and harrassment

News release from 28/07/2020

CAMBRIDGE city councillors have approved new actions that the council will take over the next year to promote equality of opportunity, tackle discrimination and promote good relations between communities.

Cllr Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Communities, said: “I am very proud of the council’s commitment to promote equality and celebrate diversity in all aspects of its work.

“As a co-founder and signatory of the Cambridgeshire-wide Equality Pledge, we want to build on the achievements of the past year to help make sure Cambridge is a safe, welcoming, and inclusive place to live, visit and work.

“However, there is much more to do. The recent death of George Floyd and the global impact of the Black Lives Matter movement have reminded us of the persistent discrimination faced by some communities.

“We recognise that there is still a long way to go to tackle discrimination in all its forms. Through working with local community groups and partner organisations, acting as a hate-crime reporting centre and providing a racial harassment service, the council will continue to actively challenge discrimination, harassment and victimisation.”

The Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee considered a report on 2 July on the council’s Single Equality Scheme, which set out a number of new actions that will provide support to people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. Actions for 2020-21 include:

  • Taking action to support groups that may be especially vulnerable during the Covd-19 pandemic;
  • Providing sessions for female refugees to exercise and socialise;
  • Completing an assessment of the accommodation needs of Gypsy and Traveller people;
  • Supporting the local Romany Community with a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund;
  • Procuring a service to support British Sign Language users to contact the Council more easily by telephone;
  • Launching ‘Make a Difference Days’ to provide opportunities for young people to bring about positive changes to their local community;
  • Providing funding through the council’s community grants to a wide range of organisations tackling social and economic deprivation experienced by people with protected characteristics, including Cambridgeshire Older People’s Enterprise, Centre 33 (supporting young people), Disability Cambridgeshire, Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum, Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre, and Encompass Network and the Kite Trust (both supporting LGBTQ+ people).

The report to the Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee also marked a number of key achievements during 2019-20. These included:

  • Raising awareness of the council’s role as a hate crime reporting centre and its racial harassment service;
  • Commissioning Encompass to deliver training for council staff to identify and respond to discrimination and hate crime experienced by LGBTQ+ people;
  • Supporting victims of domestic abuse following the council’s accreditation by the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA);
  • Providing free menstrual products at council buildings to tackle period poverty;
  • Developing links between a local school and older people at the Ditchburn Place sheltered housing scheme to help bring different generations together and tackle loneliness;
  • Working with local churches and community organisations to provide a total of 3,865 free holiday lunches to help low income families meet increased food costs during school holidays when free school meals are not available.

As a further sign of commitment to equality, at its Full Council meeting on 16 July, the council unanimously supported a cross-party Black Lives Matters motion, proposed by Cllr Baiju Thittala and seconded by Cllr Katie Porrer.