Engagement Newsletter

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1 Engagement Newsletter July 2018 Edition Engagement Newsletter This Month Engagement Spotlight: Social Media EASS teams up with Disability Wales Planning new advice aids New advisers Isle of Man visit Success Stories: Cases where the EASS has helped reach an informal outcome Common Issues: Our most recent common and trending issues Welcome to the July 2018 edition of the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) newsletter. The aim of this newsletter is for you to get a regular insight in to how we function and how we provide advice, guidance and support to individuals experiencing discrimination. As well as offering a window into the EASS, we will also share some of the successful outcomes from our advice and support. In this edition we will be looking at some of the common types of discrimination complaints received recently by the EASS. Some of our success stories are also featured along with an update on our engagement work. We would also like to thank you for continuing to receive the newsletter. You can of course subscribe or unsubscribe at any time by making a request to We would also like to welcome all our new subscribers to the newsletter. We would encourage you to share the newsletter with your networks. We are very grateful for all your hard work in ensuring people know where to receive free advice and support should they face an incident of discrimination. New to EASS? The Helpline advises and assists individuals on issues relating to equality and human rights, across England, Scotland and Wales. We also accept referrals from organisations who may not have the resources to provide in-depth advice to users of their services. EASS can be contacted through the following ways: Telephone Textphone via website Post to FREEPOST EASS Helpline FPN 6521 Webchat Available via website If you wish to subscribe/unsubscribe to this newsletter, please

2 Engagement Spotlight Through this newsletter we also aim to highlight some of the engagement work we carry out. It is important the EASS develops relationships with other organisations to help set up referral routes both in and out of the service. If you want to talk more to us about how our organisations could work more closely together then please contact EASS Team up with Disability Wales On the 20 th June EASS teamed up with Disability Wales to host a joint Twitter event. The aim of the event was to ask people to send in questions about the Equality Act and also share their experiences of using services across Wales. Taking place over two hours, the event also gave an opportunity for EASS to provide details about the type of advice and support we can offer. Disability Wales were also able to share their experience and knowledge of disability rights in Wales. We received a lot of excellent questions ranging from queries about the Public Sector Equality Duty, to enquiries about the best way to approach service providers about making reasonable adjustments. Through the event, EASS also gained a lot of new twitter followers from Wales. We were also able to reach thousands of individuals that we would not normally have such easy access to, ensuring that more people now know about the helpline and the advice we provide. We will be planning another, similar event later in the year with Disability Wales. If you and your organisation would like to team up on something similar, get in contact. New advisers Due to the continued demand for our advice, we have added two new advisers to the helpline team. Both completed their mandatory six weeks training and passed their assessments before taking their first calls in June. They are now working nicely alongside our usual team of Equality Act experts helping us answer around 3000 calls each month. Expanding the team has also enabled us to keep our excellent answer rate of 95% of all calls answered and 100% of all s and letters receiving a substantive response within 5 days. Planning new advice aids We already have a suite of template letters available to the public to assist them in writing letters of complaint should potential discrimination occur. We are now planning to expand this range of online resources with a new batch of advice aids. These are still in the planning stages, however the draft versions are currently being tested and we are hoping to have the new material available later in the year. The initial plan is to have resources such as timelines, advice flash cards and a downloadable sheet where individuals can capture the specifics of their issue and place it alongside the legal language of the Equality Act. The aim is for these resources to really bring alive the Act so that people can see how it applies specifically to their issue. This should provide an excellent source of reference for individuals enabling them to organise their issue. We will be making further announcements later in the year.

3 Engagement Spotlight Isle of Man visit EASS has been visited by a team of advisers from the Isle of Man to learn how we operate and discover the level of advice we provide. The visit took place on the 9 th and 10 th July. The Isle of Man is implementing its own Equality Act and, although we do not provide advice to residents of the island, we offered to help share as much information about advising the public as possible. The three visitors spent time listening to calls and were shown how we structure our advice to ensure that all practical information is delivered in a way that it is easily understood by the caller. We have now established a good link with their frontline team who will be delivering advice to the public and have offered to provide support where appropriate in a mentoring capacity. EASS has always operated an open-door policy, so if anyone from your organisation would like to visit the helpline in South Yorkshire we will be happy to accommodate you. Please contact us for further details on how to arrange a visit and we will happily welcome you to our site and show you around. Success Stories It is always nice to hear when our advice and support resolves an issue. It is also important for us to know when the helpline is being effective in helping people understand their rights and progress their complaints. The following two cases show that there are various different ways we can help individuals progress a complaint. School trip We received a call late on a Thursday afternoon from a mother of a child who has autism and severe food allergies. The school had planned a trip for the following Monday and the mother had been complaining about the itinerary which would have prevented her son from going. During the trip they had planned to stop at a restaurant that could not guarantee no contact with the food types that would have triggered an allergic reaction for the child. The school was not at the time willing to change the itinerary, instead placing emphasis on it now being responsible for the food that the restaurant provided.

4 Two things were now happening for the child. Firstly, he could not understand why he was being excluded from the trip which was causing him serious anxiety. Secondly, he could not attend as the school were unwilling to change the trip itinerary. Knowing that the trip was on the following Monday, EASS needed to act quickly. We spoke to the school about the issue and explained the advice that we had provided to the mother. We talked about the reasonable adjustment duty applying to school trips, as they are part of usual school activities, and pointed out the disadvantage that the trip was causing because the pupil would be unable to attend. We suggested that in planning the trip the school should have considered what reasonable steps might be needed to ensure that no-one was disadvantaged When we also explained the overall impact the decision was having by causing anxiety, the school agreed to change the food stop on the day to ensure that the pupil could be included. They also realised that during the planning of school trips they needed to consider more than simply physical access. This issue also shows that problems can occur when you place too much emphasis on situations outside your control. By warning the parents that there was no guarantee that allergies would not be triggered, and so leaving it to the parents to decide whether to send their child on the trip, the school thought that it had done what was necessary. However, if it had assessed the situation early on and fully understood the effects on all of the children attending, a trip could have been planned from the start that was fully considerate of everyone s needs. Roller City We were contacted by a mother of a child with cerebral palsy after they tried to book a roller skating session at a local roller-rink. They had just been refused the session due to the rollerrink saying there was a health and safety risk. Our EASS adviser helped the parent complete one of our template letters which advised on both direct discrimination and also the duty to make reasonable adjustments. After receiving this letter, roller-rink staff got in contact with the parent and apologised. They admitted that their policies were very outdated and suggested that they could adopt a similar approach that ice-rinks take by providing staff support and frames/aids to assist people moving around the rink. As an apology, they also provided the parent with four free tickets to visit the rink and stated that as a fairly new business, this issue had opened their eyes to how they can become much more accessible.

5 Common Issues The helpline is seeing a steady pattern of similar issues where individuals are seeking advice. Most of the following issues have been reported before, however we think it is useful to share ongoing trends with you. Reasonable adjustments in schools are continuing to be an issue raised with the helpline. With the school trip season starting, we have dealt with a lot of issues where children have been prevented from attending. In particular, children with autism are being removed from trips due to the school citing a lack of resources and one-to-one support for the child. These issues are usually resolved with a change of policy to either bring an additional member of staff or, if possible, allow the child s parent to attend the trip. Within our success stories section we have highlighted one issue we were able to directly help resolve when the trip itinerary was going to exclude the child. Transport issues are also featuring quite highly in our common cases. In particular, train travel is causing issues for passengers with reduced mobility. Policies appear to be in place to assist disabled passengers get off and on at stations, however the execution of these polices is leaving passengers stranded on trains resulting in missed connections or missed stops. The problem is that staff are not following the policies and procedures and are often forgetting that they have a passenger who needs assistance. Regarding other protected characteristics, we are continuing to see individuals being refused interviews because of their nationality. Some of these decisions could be linked to continuing confusion over Brexit with employers still unsure whether staff will remain in the UK and whether individuals will have the right to work. Next edition There will be no newsletter during August as most of our readership are likely to be making the most of the glorious British summer we are enjoying. In September we will be sharing our usual look at our regional statistics with our next full engagement newsletter being sent out in October. If you would like to talk to us more about how we can work together more closely or have a discussion about getting involved in our twice yearly reference group meetings, please get in touch with Andrew. We will begin planning for the next round of reference groups in September so make sure you get in touch to find out more.

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