EQUALITIES AND DIVERSITY
Throughout the dialogue process we heard time and again that the process of community empowerment must be about everyone living in a community having the opportunity to get involved. Any model that fails to take positive steps to include all sections of a community, is not community empowerment.
We need to remember that at the moment too many inequalities still exist in our society and that too many people can be excluded from fulfilling their potential by discrimination, victimisation or harassment. People can face these problems because of their race or ethnic background, because of a disability or their age, sexual orientation, religion or gender.
Community Empowerment must recognise and celebrate the richness that different cultures and backgrounds bring to our society. We must be aware and help overcome the barriers and difficulties that some people face in getting involved in their communities. This means that community groups must look very closely at how inclusive and welcoming they are being, and of course we all in the public sector have a duty to promote equalities.
This can mean investing in practical action, for example training on equalities and diversity for staff and communities, and challenging some negative influences of stereotyping and lack of awareness of equalities issues. We heard through the dialogue that people from a diverse range of backgrounds - some who face major personal challenges - are very keen to become involved and to contribute their considerable talents and insights, but often need to be welcomed and supported into the process, both by public agencies and by communities themselves.