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Year of Faith 2012 - 2013

Pope Benedict XVI has set aside a special year for Catholics throughout the world to rediscover and share with others the precious gift of faith. 

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October
Upcoming Equality Commission campaigns on promoting racial equality


For a number of years the Commission has been running two race specific campaigns Anti Racist Workplace Week and Traveller Focus Week. Both of these initiatives will be continuing this year.

The ethnic profile of the population in Northern Ireland has increased more significantly in recent years with the arrival of migrant workers. This greater diversity has presented challenges for employers and service providers.

Legislation outlawing race discrimination has now been in place for over a decade but despite this Irish Travellers and migrant workers continue to be marginalised. The extent of the exclusion experienced by both groups is highlighted in the Commission’s Statement of Key Inequalities   and subsequent document “Every Child an Equal Child . The latter focuses specifically on inequalities in education. These campaigns aim to encourage organisations to engage in activities or initiatives that will help to promote more inclusive working environments and foster more culturally sensitive services.

A survey  of public attitudes conducted by the Equality Commission in 2008 and published in June 2009 shows an increase in people expressing negative views of Travellers and migrant workers. Over half of those polled said they would mind having a Traveller as an in-law or a neighbour, and almost a quarter would mind having a migrant worker as a neighbour. The Commission is concerned at this high level of prejudice.

The task of promoting a greater understanding of and support for racial equality in Northern Ireland is a challenging one and will require collaborative approaches from all those in influential positions.
Education is of key importance in countering racism and the role of teachers in achieving a shared, integrated and inclusive Northern Ireland cannot be overstated.  Both of these campaigns offer organisations an opportunity to get involved and to actively show their commitment to racial equality.

Anti Racist Workplace Week

The Anti Racist Workplace Week campaign will run from 19th to 23rd October.  This campaign encourages participation from a wide range of organisations including schools.

Children of many nationalities now attend local schools. While this provides a challenge for educationalists in terms of service delivery, the greater ethnic diversity within the classrooms enhances pupils’ worldview by providing the opportunity to learn alongside children from different cultures and backgrounds. It also has the potential to counter the negative images and views which children can be exposed to elsewhere.

The specific aims of Anti-Racist Workplace Week are:
• To raise awareness of the role that workplaces (including schools) can play in challenging racism in the wider community,
• To ensure employees are made aware of their rights in the workplace, and
• To encourage employers to implement best practice measures to achieve equality for both employees and customers (including pupils).
Anti-Racist Workplace Week provides schools throughout Northern Ireland with a platform to challenge racism in all its forms and to put in place measures which support a more inclusive learning / working environment.   It is also an opportunity to communicate your commitment to making your school a ‘racism free zone’.  To find out more about the campaign click onto: www.equalityni.org and take a look at the Anti-Racist Workplace Week section.

Traveller Focus Week

Traveller Focus Week will take place from 30 November to 4 December.  An Munia Tober, a Belfast based Traveller support group is the Commission’s main partner. It is also working with other Traveller support groups.

Irish Travellers experience a degree of social exclusion and discrimination that is unparalleled with any other disadvantaged group. Multiple disadvantage includes high levels of illiteracy with the vast majority of Travellers having no formal qualifications. Last year during Traveller Focus Week the Commission issued a briefing paper setting out its policy position and approach on the priority areas relevant to the education of Traveller children.

This year the aims of Traveller Focus Week are

• To raise public awareness of the Traveller community in   Northern Ireland, focusing on the issues to be addressed and the opportunities for development
• To promote good relations by increasing understanding of Traveller issues
• To make well known the roles and responsibilities of the Equality Commission, Traveller support organisations, Government agencies and NGOs
• To promote and encourage Traveller community participation in discussion of issues affecting the community and in the development of solutions.

Key policy developments in health, education and accommodation will be profiled at the opening conference being organised to launch the week. Other events taking place during the week will be listed in a programme that is currently being drafted. Once the programme is finalised it will be circulated widely and placed on the Commission’s website www.equalityni.org . If you are thinking about getting involved the following section will give you some ideas. 

Ideas for events in both campaigns
Schools can get involved in both campaigns in a variety of ways for example:
• Organising cultural events or activities
• Holding themed assemblies to celebrate different cultures
• Organising intercultural awareness or anti-racism training
• Providing Information stands with relevant publications such as guides on equality laws, leaflets from BME groups / Traveller  organisations on their services
• Reviewing or developing anti-bullying strategies
• Organising poster or story telling competitions
• Linking up with Advisory & Support Teachers for Traveller / BME Education within the education and library boards  
• Displaying campaign promotional posters or
• Any other event or activity that schools feel would be appropriate – all creative ideas welcome!!!  
If your school would like to participate in either of these campaigns please contact us to let us know what you are planning and to order free promotional materials.

To find out more about either of these campaigns click onto our website:  www.equalityni.org or contact:

Mairead Starrs for information about Anti-Racist Workplace Week on Tel:  028 90 500613

Teresa Moley for information about Traveller Focus Week on
 Tel: 02890 500684

 
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