Issued by City of York Council
The ‘York Equality Scheme – A Fairer York’ focuses on narrowing equality gaps in relation to income, child poverty, unemployment, educational attainment, homelessness, access to affordable decent housing and health while also respecting and celebrating diversity in the city – and in the council itself.
Launched by Councillor Sonja Crisp, City of York Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism with guest speaker Clarke Carlisle, chair of the Professional Footballers’ Association and Kick It Out ambassador, Cllr Crisp said: “Politicians, like me, are motivated to get into politics for lots of different reasons. I am fortunate to have an interesting and wide-ranging portfolio and I enjoy the work I do to support arts and culture in the city.
“However, the work we are launching today goes right to the very heart of why I stood for public office. Because today we are talking about fairness, inclusion, respect and our ambition to ensure that every individual and community in York has a voice.
“I want our city to be the most equal in Britain and I am delighted to be here today to share in the launch of the York Equality Scheme. This is the work that matters to me!”
The Centre for Cities most recent report says that York is sixth out of the ten most equal cities in the UK, but the council is aiming for not just a leading progressive fair and inclusive city where discrimination and disadvantage are tackled, but as an organisation and employer it has equality at the very core of its ethos.
The scheme has been informed by the One City Plan, the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, The Fairness Commission Report, The Big York Survey Results 2012 as well as by the council’s Equality Advisory Group.
It unites initiatives such as the recent Living Wage City campaign, the Child Poverty Strategy and Wrap Up York. While, for example, the GeniUS! campaign that is seeking solutions to help care for an ageing population and the City of Sanctuary initiative welcoming those fleeing violence and persecution, both support and celebrate diversity in the city.
Speech by Cllr Sonja Crisp, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism at York Equality Scheme – A Fairer York launch
Politicians, like me, are motivated to get into politics for lots of different reasons.
I’m fortunate to have an interesting and wide-ranging portfolio and I enjoy the work I do to support arts and culture in the city.
But today the work we are launching, goes right to the very heart of why I stood for public office.
Because today we are talking about fairness, inclusion, respect and our ambition to ensure that every individual and community in York has a voice.
I want our city to be the most equal in Britain and I am delighted to be here today to share in the launch of the York Equality Scheme.
This is the work that matters to me!
If I may, I’d like to spend a few minutes setting out the context for the York Equalities Scheme and also to explain a bit more about what it means to me.
We are an ambitious Council. We talk a lot about economic growth and GVA, we talk about creating jobs and supporting business.
But we are also a Council that cares passionately about the people who live in this city.
Our Council Plan sets out the five key priorities of the current administration, and our work on the York Equalities Scheme is a key contribution to ‘Building Strong Communities’ and ‘Protecting Vulnerable People’.
This last year has seen us do much to support the most marginalised in York.
The work of the Fairness Commission has given us a city wide insight into life for around 13,000 residents who live in the most deprived parts of the city.
• We understand much, much more about the issues of poverty, life expectancy, crime, and social exclusion that challenge some of our residents.
• We have invested money into communities to take forward initiatives to help the most vulnerable.
There are people in the room today who have worked on some great projects in places like Acomb, Tang Hall, Heworth and Westfield to build stronger communities and support residents. Some of these interventions have been life changing for many vulnerable people.
• Our work on financial inclusion will also continue to be critical over the next few years as the impact of reduced public spending begins to bite further.
We are under pressure to meet the needs of those struggling with debts, the lack of affordable housing and rising energy and transport costs.
So how does this fit with equalities?
Well I believe,
• if you are serious about supporting the most vulnerable.
• If you are serious about creating an environment where everyone can reach their potential.
• If you are serious about fairness and serious about everyone having a chance to participate in the life of the city
– then at the heart of how you work and make decisions sits equality.
Equality drives fairness. And fairness isn’t all about money.
For most of us, being treated fairly is not just about material things; it’s also about the freedom to choose our own path in life; about our right to control what we do every day.
It’s about the right to be treated with dignity and respect by others – and about the right to have our voices heard.
I believe everyone deserves these choices and opportunities.
Sally is going to talk about our scheme in more detail so I’d like to talk a little bit about the way in which I have seen equalities change and where I see the challenge.
It is the case that stereotyped views about the roles of men and women are less prevalent than they were.
• People are less worried about working for a woman boss or their children marrying someone of a different race.
• We are slowly lifting the taboo on discussing mental health, though there’s not much evidence that we are ready to give someone who has had depression or a breakdown the space to work alongside us in a way that meets their needs.
And of course, perhaps the most visible and dramatic change of the past thirty years, is the legal recognition of lesbian and gay relationships through civil partnerships, which today, in most parts of Britain are just as joyous, inclusive and familial occasions as any marriage, complete with embarrassing uncles and tipsy aunts.
None of this means that the work of changing society is over. It just means it’s getting harder. We may have changed many people’s attitudes; we now need to get them to change their behaviour. Without giving too much away, The York Equalities Scheme is all about that change in behaviour.
Speaking of changes… like all good policy documents this is one that I am determined will remain a living document, that we can and will add to and one that we can work together with our partners across the city to adapt as our society changes.
Finally, may I thank all who have contributed to this work, particularly from outside of the council. I am very grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to make this document one that we can be proud of.
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