Letter to the Committee from Fife Racial Equality Council (CRE 7)
In connection with the one-off session on the Work of the Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland, 10.15 am, Wednesday, 20th March, Committee Room 5.
FifeREC has been in existence for approx 10 years, and is one of six RECs in Scotland.
The global population of Fife is approx. 380,000 (Fife Council's own/latest available stats.) with a b m e population of between six and seven a half thousand.*
There are no dis aggregated stats available, and of course, the '91 census stats are well under representative of the true picture.
The above figure* has been estimated by the communities themselves via eg only:
Islamic Centres, Chinese Language School, the traveling persons officials site(s), Yellow Pages.
However, indications via school enrolment at Primary one level does clearly indicate a continuous rise in the indigenous b m e population presenting at that stage.
FifeREC has three staff: one f/time director (CRE funded) one f/time admin officer and one p/time community development officer . . . both funded by Fife Council.
Currently the p/time community development officer is funded by Lloyds TSB, bringing her up to full time. The additional time is exclusively to deal with youth development.
This is to compliment the Equal Voices Youth Project. FifeREC was the only REC in Scotland to receive Home Office Race Equality Unit/Connecting Communities funding, 01-02. This youth project has a team of three.
Role/Remit/ (some) successes to date/FifeREC:
RECs' do not represent communities, but work closely with them whilst at the same time fulfilling their role/requirements as outlined by the CRE. As such, and with this connectivity with communities, Fife REC is well placed to lead on race and equality in Fife in partnership with mainstream stat and vol agencies.
FifeREC takes its role of providing best value for the public pound in the broadest sense:
Internally to its own working and externally to Fife wide agencies.
Fife based research carried out by ourselves, and with NHSFife (in relation to services and access) has lead to mainstreaming in two particular areas: older peoples issues, and womens issues. Fife Council Soc. Wk Services, Community Safety Partnership, Communities Scotland/Kingdom Housing (some examples only) can clearly identify specific actions and outcomes in relation to policy development, policy change and service delivery in cross cutting, multi disciplinary methods, that demonstrate policy into practice that meets best value criteria.
FifeREC has worked with Fife Constabulary and this year sees the completion of a three year Race Action Strategy that will demonstrate change and enable Fife Constab to subsume this specific strategy into its main frame policies and practices.
FifeREC worked with Fife Council three years ago to identify and successfully bid for first round thematic SIPs funding (Scottish Exec. funded: Social Inclusion Partnerships). This SIPs project: Frae Fife is a partnership, capacity building project for stat agencies, vol, private sectors and communities. Though one of the smallest SIPs in Scotland, this particular Partnership is laying down markers in relation to equalities, cross cutting themes, and enabling communities to plan and direct outcomes.
The Home Office Project: Equal Voices: has a specific remit, inclusive of youth citizenship programmes in schools, has and continues to meet all Home Office pre set criteria. One example of mainstream working is scoping of young peoples views/understanding of health services currently on offer, and their identification/ prioritisation of young b m e peoples' health needs. This will specifically assist NHSFife in designing health services for this particular section of society.
FifeREC contributes on a wider scale, having inputted to REAF (Race Equality Action Forum) SSIN (Scottish Social Inclusion Network) and The Community Planning Task Force.
With specific regard to the current re-organisation-re structuring of relationships between CRE and RECs
FifeREC is well aware of the last major review, commonly referred to as the KPMG Review with its specific conclusions and recommendations.
In the context of political change, both UK and Scottish wide, and following on from the identification of Scotland's Social Strategy, it is must surely been seen as a requirement that race and equality is core to and integral to all aspects of governance. * This in turn should cause impact on the overall societal framework . . . before even the additional legislative imperatives . . . such as the RR Amendment Act 2000, European Directives.
The announcement therefore in approx Oct 2000 in Aberdeen by CRE Scotland of proposed changes did not come as a surprise.
*To achieve core values, core principles and equalities of outcomes|and from a very particular Scottish perspective . . . six RECs are well placed to assist in change and delivery but cannot achieve any/or all of this in isolation.
However and from a very particular Fife perspective, FifeREC is, and has demonstrated its ability to initiate and lead productive partnerships that have and are resulting in tangible change.
The need to work more closely in equal partnerships is something that FifeREC and Fife must surely welcome due to (a) the localized need and (b) the localized success rate to date.
Within Scotland, the undeniable existence for the need for change, globally, must indicate the breadth and depth of work still required, pan Scotland.
How can that change be affected if not through partnership with the existing agencies that are not delivering globally pan Scotland.
Is it a safe assumption that new monies will not be made available in any great quantities?
Is it safe to assume that agencies will be held accountable for the resources they currently receive and manage in direct relation ship to citizens needs?
The aspects of the "change process" that have been worrying to date has been an lack of clarity from CRE London.
When dialogue was entered into here in Scotland, when questions were asked, time tables identified, decision dates given . . . everything had to be devolved to London for determination/clarification . . . and final authoritative decision making.
There have been instances when dates were "missed", deadlines not met, meetings cancelled, decisions not made by due dates, or once arrived at, not communicated to RECs here.
I and other Directors have been in at least one meeting in Scotland when "mixed messages" were put out by CRE (London), providing conflicting information/viewpoint.
In light of inevitable tensions that exist at the time of change, and especially, potential financial change, such "gaps" in the process did not aid the process.
In view of the fact that CRE Scotland does require final authoritative decisions to be made in London (eg financial, eg grants made to RECs) but taking on board the inevitability of change, and learning from this particular process, is Scotland not now in the very advantageous position of demonstrating its ability to manage the CRE in Scotland?
Could recommendations not be arrived at that would look at devolving decision making to the CRE within Scotland, BUT COUPLED WITH greater accountability within Scotland, eg to the Scottish Executive.
Could this be determined to ensure a greater impact . . . UK wide . . . in line with Home Office recommendations following on from the Bradford, Burnley and Oldham Reports, (post summer riots).
Could decision making within Scotland, and accountability within Scotland (but not to replace current mechanisms maintaining the reserved powers of Westminster) not assist in some eg only:
promoting ethnic diversity tempered by a consideration of the need to ensure community cohesion;
promoting and ensuring a greater sense of citizenship based on common, shared principles and values that reflect diversity;
promoting community cohesion through existing mechanisms of local governance/best value/mainstreaming . . . with the added impetus of legislation both UK, Scottish and European . . . eg Article 13.
I hope this can be considered and is of some value for 20 March.
15 March 2002