Equality and the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership

Rachel Cooling, Equality Lead, Emergencies Partnership

I cannot believe that nearly two months have gone by. Two months ago, I started with the Emergencies Partnership as the Equality Lead. This was a new role. What do you do with a new role? You read the job description. Then you realize that a job is more than a document and you must help shape it collaboratively.

So, what is equality? This current emergency has highlighted existing inequalities. Behind all the reports and evidence on this — we should never forget that people’s lives and loved ones are behind the figures and statistics in the news. Personally — I think equality is a human right that everyone is entitled to. All have a right to life, right to safety and security and it should not matter who you are, where you are from, what language you speak. All have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. That we should celebrate diversity and inclusion. None of this should be a tick box activity. A way to fulfil quotas or to feel better. Neither should it be down to one person to achieve. The collective is much stronger and effective than any individual in this.

What about in an emergency? We did a session together as Emergencies Partnership colleagues and here were some of the comments to the question “Why is equality important in an emergency?”

‘It should be embedded all the time. If it is embedded out of a crisis, it will work in a crisis’.

‘To make sure no one is left behind’,

‘To ensure everyone is given equal support / access to resources during an emergency, make sure that we reach all communities’.

Are we there yet as a voluntary and community sector emergencies partnership?

I think there is the willingness and want to continue to improve.

I was fortunate to attend and be one of the speakers at a NAVCA event recently — and posed the question “How can we ensure communities are at the centre of emergency response?”

There were plenty of examples from groups where they do this, working in collaboration with.

The session we did together as Emergencies Partnership colleagues showed that there are always improvements to make, and we are not there yet…What do you think?

After the tragedies of 2017 (Grenfell in particular), the Emergencies Partnership formed to improve coordination and collaboration across the voluntary sector. From grass roots to national giants, and government, we work to better understand, and respond to unmet need, together.

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