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1.1.2 Equality and Diversity Policy


Contents

  1. Equality and Diversity Policy
  2. Guidance on Promoting Diversity, Positive Identity and Potential through Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Cultural Considerations in Caring Children and Young People
  3. Improving Access to Services
  4. Referrals
  5. Assessment and Planning
  6. Care Planning and Reviews
  7. Gender, Gender Identity and Transgender
  8. Sexual Orientation
  9. Disability


1. Equality and Diversity Policy

Leeds City Council’s recent vision statement for 2011 - 2030 is as follows:

“By 2030, Leeds will be locally and internationally recognised as the best city in the UK”.

“Leeds will be a Child Friendly City.”

Leeds Children Services Directorate aims for an inclusive partnership framework at a city, area, cluster and neighbourhood level which should support and challenge all stakeholders to play an active part in the future development and delivery of services to achieve an agreed set of outcomes for all children and young people and the vision of a Child Friendly City

The Children's Act 1989 states that any needs a child has arising from their culture, religion and language must be taken into account. The Equality Act 2010 came into force from October 2010 providing a modern single legal framework with clear, streamlined law to more effectively tackle disadvantage and discrimination. The Act replaces the existing anti-discrimination laws with a single Act which protects all equality characteristics such as ethnicity, gender and transgender, disability, age, faith or religion and sexual orientation.

The new Children’s Homes Regulations and Quality Standards stress the importance of providing individualised care for children and young people and emphasise the diversity of children’s homes settings”.

Equal opportunities in Leeds City Council is about making sure that everyone can fully join in the social, cultural, political and economic life of the city. The Council is committed to treating staff, and the people of Leeds, fairly. The staff will make sure that they do not discriminate against people because of their age, impairment, ethnic origin, nationality, religion or belief, social class, gender, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital status, responsibility for dependants, trade union activity or for any other unfair reason.

Leeds City Council‘s Equality and Diversity Scheme states:

“We want to make sure that we take equality and diversity into account, in a positive way, at every stage of our work. We will make sure that we follow equal opportunities policies in the way that we recruit and treat our staff, deliver our services, consult the people of Leeds and work with other organisations.”

“We will take all reasonable steps to prevent a provision, criterion or practice applied by or on behalf of us, as an employer or service provider from placing a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared with persons who are not disabled. This will apply to employment and occupation and the provision of goods, facilities and services.”

Equality Monitoring

Equality monitoring is central to ensuring that we continually improve our service delivery by enabling services to know who their service users are and to ensure that their service user’s base is representative of the wider population. In relation to employment equality monitoring enables us to establish whether we are recruiting a diverse workforce that is representative of the communities of Leeds.

The Equality Monitoring Guidance is intended to help you understand the principles of equality monitoring and provide you with information that will assist you to monitor your customers and staff as easily and effectively as possible.

For further information on the Equality Monitoring Guidance, please see the Leeds City Council Intranet

Equality, Diversity, Cohesion and integration Impact Assessments

According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the definition of equal society is as follows:

“An equal society protects and promotes equal, real freedom and substantive opportunity to live in the ways people value and would choose, so that everyone can flourish. An equal society recognises people’s different needs, situations and goals and removes the barriers that limit what people can do and can be”

For our society to be fair cohesive and prosperous inequality needs to be tackled and discrimination ended. Building on and simplifying the existing legal framework the Equality Act 2010 requires public bodies to have:

  • Due regard to eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited under the Act;
  • Advance equality of opportunity; and
  • Foster good relations across all protected characteristics.

The Human Rights Act 1998 also supports compliments and extends beyond anti-discrimination.

We recognise that there are still areas of inequalities. To help tackle this approach to equality, diversity, cohesion and integration focuses on:

  • The effects organisational barriers can have on a diverse population; and
  • Practical ways of removing or reducing those barriers.

Despite complying with the legislation, Impact assessments are one of the ways we can embed equality, diversity and community cohesion considerations at the heart of everything we do, across all services, from strategic decision making to the delivery of front line services.

Equality, diversity, integration and community cohesion impact assessments are a way of finding out whether the plans, actions and services of the council will affect some communities or groups of people differently. They are a tool for ensuring that equality, diversity, community cohesion and community safety issues are considered when drawing up policies or proposals which affect the delivery of our services, in carrying out those services and in the employment practices of our organisation.

For details, please see the guidance and templates:

Equality, Diversity, Cohesion and Integration Impact Assessment Guidance

Equality, Diversity, Cohesion and Integration Screening form

Equality, Diversity, Cohesion and Integration Impact Assessment form

Equality and Diversity Training

Ensuring Equality and Celebrating Diversity Course

Equality and diversity training, is a priority for the Council. The programme of delivering this course has been developed and commissioned by the organisational development team.

The aim of this course is to provide delegates with an overview of key equality and diversity issues, so that they are able to identify discriminatory practices within the social care setting and are better equipped to implement good practice with the assessment process. Another aim is to discuss how to promote diversity, positive identity and potential through individualised care and ensure equality and diversity is embedded within all areas of Children Services.

Organisational Development team produce and advertise calendar booklets of training courses available to all staff working in Children services across Leeds.

Each calendar booklet contains training that has been identified, through a comprehensive training needs analysis (TNA), to meet legislative requirements and service specific requirements. All booklets detail the course content, intended audience, dates, time, how to book and who to contact for help.

More Information and Contact Details

For further information please contact Human Resources Manager - Children Services, Organisational Development Unit.

Hate Incident and Bullying

The definition of hate Incident is as follows:

“Hate incident is any incident which is perceived to be a hate incident by the victim or any other person. It is motivated wholly or in part by prejudice on the grounds of ‘race’1, colour, national or ethnic origin, religious belief or similar philosophical belief, sexual orientation, or against disabled people”.

Hate incidents are not tolerated, and any instance of abusive language or behaviour will be dealt with swiftly and firmly. Harassment by staff will be considered as a disciplinary matter.

Abusive language or behaviour can be viewed as another form of bullying and therefore this policy must read in conjunction with the other chapter on West Yorkshire Consortium Procedures, Bullying Procedure.


2. Guidance on Promoting Diversity, Positive Identity and Potential through Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Cultural Considerations in Caring Children and Young People

Ethnic origin, linguistic background, faith or religion and culture are of importance to the developing identity of all children and young people.

In this document, the term culture describes the moral values, behaviour norms, lifestyle, social and artistic pursuits espoused by a family and taught to their children. A shared religious belief, ethnic background, language, history or economic background will often lead to similar cultural norms and expectations.

Cultural competence recognises, affirms, fosters and values the strengths of individuals, families and communities; and protects and preserves the worth and dignity of each. This is in line with the Health and Care Professions Council’s Codes of Practice - both for social workers and for employers - which emphasise treating service users as individuals, respecting their views and wishes, promoting equal opportunities and respecting diversity and different cultures and values.

Valuing Diversity in Service Provision and Delivery

Sensitising social work service provision to the ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic needs of children involves a number of practical considerations. These include the need for multicultural play, reading and display materials in order to:

  • Provide an environment in which a child is comfortable;
  • Promote positive black and minority ethnic images and role models;
  • Provide visual illustration which promotes discussion of issues of difference, ethnicity, culture, religion and language;
  • Assist in discussion of issues concerning identity.

Services could obtain materials such as wall charts with a translation of words like "hello" into other languages, posters with black and minority ethnic children as well as white children featured in them, a calendar of religious festivals, black and minority ethnic books and other ethnic play materials. Save the Children have produced a useful early years resource pack called "Playing in Harmony". Wherever possible, books used in direct work should include black and minority as well as black characters. An audit of resources can identify materials which are needed. It is important that white children should be aware of the multi-cultural nature of society as well as services being able to meet the needs of individual black and minority ethnic children so everyone benefits from such provision.

The Need for Choice of Diet

When children are placed with foster families or residential carers of a different background, familiar food will assist continuity and will demonstrate that their culture and religion are valued. To help with this:

  • Discuss with the child and the parent what food they like and are familiar with and, where that differs from their own style of cooking; find ways of accommodating the child's preference;
  • Encourage carers to make links with local minority ethnic community centres to find out about different ways of preparing food and where to buy specific foods;
  • Provide relevant training or pay for carers to attend evening classes in for example Asian cookery;
  • Allow children to have a regular "take away".

Issues around differences in food could be used to promote discussion within a group of young people about living in a multicultural society.

The Need for Choice of Clothing and Toiletries for Skin and Hair Care

Children should be provided with or encouraged to buy clothes appropriate to their cultural backgrounds. They should be helped to develop a positive image of their cultural heritage in all its forms including dress. Carers need to be aware that fashions in other cultures can change rapidly for example types of materials, colours, trousers which may be tight or loose and so on. Most children want to be fashionable and it helps to build their self esteem if they can express this:

A range of toiletries should be purchased which meet the needs of black and minority ethnic children. For example, it is common for African and Caribbean children to need certain creams for skin care.

Specialist hairdressers will make sure that hair is kept in good condition and will be able to provide the most up to date styles as well as more traditional styles such as plaiting.


3. Improving Access to Services

All children and their families are entitled to equal access to services which do not discriminate on the grounds of religion, ethnic origin, linguistic background, culture, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

Where services are offered within an unfamiliar cultural setting, access to services may be an issue. Therefore the following considerations must be given.

Considerations:

  • A workforce which is representative of the community it serves;
  • A service which is normally delivered for example in a Family Resource Centre could be delivered in the family home or in an appropriate community setting;
  • Targeting community groups to increase the pool of carers providing respite;
  • Avoiding physical features that make it difficult for people with a disability and making reasonable adjustments to improve the environment;
  • Improving access to information, premises, safe environment, transport and communication. Please refer to the Communication Management and Stakeholder Engagement Guidance Notes.


4. Referrals

Referral forms must be completed concerning ethnicity, language, gender, disability and religion with a view to collating accurate statistics on the take up of services.

Accurate and significant information must be taken at this stage in a variety of situations. For example if a child is being matched to a placement outside their immediate family setting, the matching process will be helped significantly by the following information:

  • Nationality and ethnicity;
  • Languages spoken at home;
  • Religion and current cultural practice;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Disability;
  • The child’s natural and extended family, their ethnic and cultural origins, experience of racism and the role of religion in their lives;
  • The child’s view of his/her own identity and any identity confusion, experience of racism and quality of contact with culture/community;
  • Recording of names is important. Different cultures use different structures for names.

It is important not to assume that all fit within the indigenous structure that is a personal name followed by a surname. If in doubt it is usually best to ask which the family name is. There may be variations in terms of how black and minority ethnic people choose to identify themselves. Some may have changed their name to accommodate the majority culture. People should be given the freedom to identify themselves as they choose, although it can be important, for instance if a police reference is to be sought, to check whether a name is the person’s given name or one he or she has chosen to use.


5. Assessment and Planning

  1. Increasing understanding

    An assessment and planning process involves gathering “sufficient information to enable a judgement to be made about those aspects of the child’s health, welfare or development that requires some help and what services, if any the (local authority) should provide”.

    Ethnic origin and cultural background must be considered in order to make accurate judgements about a child’s needs. It is particularly important in cross-cultural assessment work to “try to understand the experience of another.

    It is necessary to dismantle the world as seen from one’s own place. Every culture has a broad consensus about social norms. Without knowledge of these varied social norms, cultural stereotypes can develop where black and minority ethnic families are considered to be strange, deficient or inferior. Information on aspects of different cultures and religions is available in a number of publications for example “Religion and Faith Guide” - Leeds City Council.
  1. Knowing how to raise questions

    Practitioners should raise the subject of religion, ethnicity, culture and language in a manner which is appropriate, acceptable and fair. The culture must be one where children of all races are valued equally and no form of racism (or indeed any other kind of prejudice) towards adults or children within or outside the home is acceptable or will be tolerated. For example, the need to enquire about heritage may be mistakenly seen as necessary only when working with children and families from a black and minority background and be seen as singling people out. There may be an anxiety about saying, “the wrong thing” and inadvertently causing offence.
  1. Assessing strengths

    It is important not only to recognise difference but to appreciate some of the positive aspects of difference. A useful exercise is to find out as much information as possible about a minority ethnic culture, for example the role of extended families or arranged marriages, and then list some of the possible advantages. Customs and practices which you personally might find restrictive can be a source of strength and fulfilment to individuals brought up in a different culture.
  1. Assessing the effects of racism

    Many families are resilient in the face of racism and develop ways of managing and coping which preserve their positive sense of identity and self esteem. For other families, however, racism can be one of a range of problems with which they are struggling. It may be the main cause or a contributory factor in their need for services. It may also affect their willingness to confide in you or trust you or your agency.

    Although many families are resilient in the face of racism, it is important not to minimise their experiences but to be willing to be open and to understand its impact on a family’s day to day life as issues about racism are often complex and charged with feelings.
  1. Working collaboratively

    Community based family support services, often run by voluntary agencies, may offer services which can assist in an assessment, for example setting up an initial meeting in familiar surroundings and providing bilingual support and advocacy. Different expectations can lead to tensions between agencies so agree in advance criteria for referrals and ways of working together.
  1. Assessment and planning in child protection cases

    Child sexual abuse happens in all cultures and all children have a right to be protected. Cultural differences must not be used as a reason for non-intervention but workers should not ignore family and community networks as a source of protection. Workers should be sensitive to the many differing factors which may need to be taken into consideration, depending on a child’s ethnic or cultural background. If Practitioners are not sure, they should seek further guidance to address issues of sexual abuse for black and minority ethnic children and families.

    For example:
  • It may be more difficult for a black child to disclose to representatives of white authority that s/he has been abused - the consequences for the family may be different than for a white family. It may be that the child has internalised racism or the negative cultural stereotypes in a way that makes her/him feel that s/he has been abused because of her/his colour or religion etc;
  • Religious and cultural beliefs may exacerbate feelings of shame and guilt;
  • It may be less easy for a mother to protect her child in some cultures than others, depending on the power position of women within their culture;
  • It may be that the consequences of disclosing within a particular culture are that the abused child will never be accepted back into her/his community;
  • It may be that workers will need to consult with appropriate ethnic minority colleagues.
  1. Assessment and Planning where Children are Looked After by the Local Authority or Placed for Adoption;

    A systematic assessment will be necessary which should include how the child’s ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic needs will be addressed whether at home, in foster care, in residential care or with adoptive parents. Children should be placed in foster homes which can address their identified needs and which provide a familiar way of life, behaviour, attitudes, expectations, religious practices, language, food and cultural activities. In circumstances where it is not possible to provide a “same race” placement it is important that both carers and social workers have or are willing to obtain knowledge and understanding of the child’s heritage and they are prepared to help the child maintain his or her heritage. This also applies to children who are placed for adoption.

    Such circumstances may be as follows:
    • Where the child or young person requiring placement wishes to join his/her siblings already placed and on balance this preference has greater weight and is consistent with the child or young person’s overall needs and wishes;
    • Where the child or young person has already made a crucially important relationship with a potential or actual adoptive parent or foster carer who does not share the same race, culture, religion or language of the child;
    • Where efforts to achieve a placement reflecting the child’s ethnicity, culture, religion or language have not succeeded in full or in part.
  2. Looking after children of mixed parentage

    Assessing the needs of children of mixed parentage can be complex for a number of reasons. They may identify themselves as white, black or dual heritage. Respect the child’s own definition but at the same time assess whether or not children have an understanding of their heritage from both birth parents and the impact of racism on their lives. The use of terminology is important since terms such as “coloured” or “half-caste” are offensive.

    The principle is that a child’s needs are most likely to be met in a family that matches his or her ethnicity; religious, cultural and linguistic background applies to black children of mixed parentage.

    The ideal situation would be to provide a family where the parents are of similar backgrounds to the child’s parents, able to offer a positive role model of managing a bicultural change.

    Where this is not possible, assess whether the child should be placed with black and minority ethnic foster carers offering contact with the black community and help in managing racism or for clearly assessed and recorded reasons the child should be placed with white carers. In these circumstances it is essential to set up links with both the child’s communities of origin.

    The recent rewrite of the booklet for BME Children Looked After is a useful resource to share with children from the full range of cultural backgrounds. See Info 4 U.


6. Care Planning and Reviews

The care plan for a Child Looked After addresses both immediate and longer term needs. It must take account of all information available on ethnic origin, religion and cultural and linguistic background before any decisions regarding the child are made.

These issues should be considered again when the plan is reviewed.

For instance:

  • Has the child been able to discover and express views about? his or her ethnicity or cultural background?
  • Is the child in touch with his or her community or cultural or ethnic heritage? If not, what plans are there to keep the child in? touch?
  • Is the child helped develop a sense of belonging to his own? culture?
  • Have staff or carers received relevant help and guidance?
  • Should outside organisations and individuals be involved in? planning for the child’s future?


7. Gender, Gender Identity and Transgender

Children regardless of gender receiving a service from the Children and Families Services Directorate should receive equal opportunities and encouragement to pursue their talents, interests and hobbies. Gender stereotypes of behaviour must not be imposed or condoned. These principles will be achieved by:

  1. A wide range of activities being offered to all sexes and attempts being made to overcome peer group pressure, if it prevents children pursuing their interests;
  2. Having equal expectations that all children will participate in domestic tasks;
  3. Counselling all young people, regardless of gender, not to embark upon sexual relationships until they can do so maturely, without exploitation and safely. Levels of concern and criteria for action, where children are deemed to be in “moral danger” should apply equally to all. All young people have a right to information and counselling around sexual issues, including HIV;
  4. Encouraging staff and carers to model behaviour to children that demonstrates that there are gender variant roles and no specifically male, female and trans roles. Whilst individual members of staff or carers will have different talents, interest and skills, the imposition or toleration of sexually stereotyped roles is not acceptable;
  5. Some children, because of their previous experiences, may be fearful, angry or acutely self-conscious with staff, carers or other children of a particular gender. Children should be given choices and should not be pressurised to work with, or live with someone of that gender because it is deemed that this will counteract their previous negative experiences. This is unlikely to be the case until the child feels ready to make such a relationship. Some children may be so shocked or traumatised or lacking in self-confidence that they are unable to make these choices. In such situations, staff must assess the individual child’s likely reactions based on knowledge of their past experiences and seek other professional support if required;
  6. The toys, books, games, posters, works of art, music videos, etc. displayed or used in children’s centres, residential homes, foster homes and offices should be non-sexist and should portray positive and varied images of all children regardless of gender. The display or circulation of sexist or pornographic material, either by adults or young people, is totally unacceptable.

    See also, Gender Identity and Trans Guidance for all Schools Colleges & Children and Families’ Services (Draft, March 2017).


8. Sexual Orientation

A number of young people to whom we offer services will be lesbian, bisexual or gay or unsure of their sexual identity. Gay or lesbian young people applying for or in receipt of our services should be able to expect acceptance by and sympathetic understanding from staff and carers of their sexual identity. This aim should apply equally to those people who express uncertainty about their identity. This aim will be achieved by:

  1. Recognising that gay, bisexual and lesbian young people exist. Not only will they be represented amongst service users in proportion to their statistical occurrence in the population as a whole but they may be over-represented either due to family or peer group rejection or the prejudice and hostility which is causing depression and confusion. This may lead to such behaviour as self-harm or putting them at risk of sexual exploitation;
  2. Heterosexist discrimination, abuse and jokes being totally unacceptable and, so far as is achievable, providing protection from such behaviour by their peers or other adults;
  3. Making counselling available when requested by young people who may identify as gay, bisexual or lesbians or are questioning their sexuality to help them with their uncertainties or feelings, develop their self-esteem or identity or to establish a lifestyle and relationships which are safe, legal and with which they should feel contented and comfortable. Gay young people may also require counselling concerning their fears, which may or may not be justified, about AIDS/HIV.

Where gay, bisexual or lesbian parent applies for a service on behalf of their child or the family as a whole, his or her sexual identity will only be relevant to the assessment or service offered where it is apparent that it is presenting difficulties for the parent or child.

Where a gay, bisexual or lesbian person or couple apply to foster carers, adopters or childminders, their application will be taken up in the same way as any other applicant. As with any other assessment, the quality of their relationship or their acceptance of their singleness will be considered during the assessment process in the context of the skills, experience and care they will or will not be able to offer to a child or children. It is recognised that prejudice on the part of some children or parents may make their caring task more difficult but their positive strategies for coping with and dealing with prejudice will be considered as part of the assessment.


9. Disability

The overall purpose of the Disability Equality Duty (DED) is to make public authorities working in the social care and health sectors in England and Wales think about the needs of disabled people when planning, delivering or monitoring social care and healthcare services. The duty is owed to ‘disabled people’, which is based on the definition of disability used in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

It is important that social care settings involve parents/carers, the child and, if appropriate, specialist support staff, as early as possible in the planning process.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act the care setting must make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled pupils are not placed at a substantial disadvantage to their peers. This may include providing additional staffing and accessible transport or ensuring the venue is appropriate to the needs of the child concerned. The planning checklists should help highlight any reasonable adjustments needed.

Children and young people with additional needs can benefit enormously from participating in a residential trip alongside their peers. However it may be necessary to plan a little more carefully before the visit to ensure that the experience gives the child /young person the greatest chance of success.

It is anticipated that all trips will complete generic risk assessment to cover activities. Individual risk assessments may be necessary for a child / young person with more complex needs after completion of the following document. These should be done in consultation with parents/carers.

Our Commitment to the Social Model of Disability

The 2005 Disability discrimination Act Code of Practice emphasises:

‘The poverty, disadvantage and social exclusion experienced by disabled people is not an inevitable result of their impairments, or medical conditions, but rather stems from attitudinal or environmental barriers.’

It adopts what is commonly known as the ‘social model’ of disability. The ‘social model’ of disability argues that a person is not disabled by mobility, sensory or mental impairment/health conditions themselves but by the way in which these are understood and accommodated, i.e. by the social and physical barriers that exist in the communities in which they live. This might include prejudice and stereotypes, the way things are run or organised, physical barriers to access, like steps, or the failure to provide the support or aids that a person needs.

Many people with physical or mental impairments or long-term health conditions choose not to define themselves as ‘disabled’ but this does not stop them from having rights under the 1995 and 2005 Disability Discrimination Acts. Neither does it remove our duty to promote equality and provide the additional adjustments and supports that they may need to use or work within the Council’s services. Many people who use Sign Language see themselves as a linguistic minority, not as ‘disabled people’.

The task facing the Council is to minimise these barriers for our staff, our children and young people, our service users and our visitors (parents, relatives, friends, people form the community) who have physical or mental impairments or long-term health conditions and continue to demonstrate our commitment to the ‘social model’ of disability.

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