Letter to the Committee from Children in Scotland (CRE 3)
I note that the Committee is examining the work of the Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland on Wednesday 20 March. Children in Scotland has worked with the CRE in Scotland over a number of years and I thought it might be helpful to the Committee to have some information on what this has involved.
As the Committee may be aware Children in Scotland is the national agency for voluntary, statutory and professional organisations and individuals working with children and their families in Scotland and has over 350 members throughout the country. The agency exists to identify and promote the interests of children and their families in Scotland to ensure that relevant policies, services and provisions are of the best possible quality and able to meet the needs of a diverse society.
A priority of our work for the last five years has been that of recognising and accepting diversity, challenging prejudice, discrimination and inequality in all its forms and we have obviously been keen to work with the Commission for Racial Equality on this. The Deputy Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland, Moussa Jogee, MBE, OBE, was a Vice Convener of Children in Scotland for five years and this has undoubtedly assisted the relationship between the two agencies. Whilst we have enjoyed good relations for a number of years the expansion of the Commission's office in Scotland in the wake of the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the higher profile this has brought to its work has enabled us to further extend our work with them. Since last Spring we have been directly involved with the Commission in a programme entitled, Equal Futures: children and young people building racial equality. Initially involved in the organisation of a major conference and programme of activities around St. Andrew's Day in 2001 we are now hoping to extend this to a two year programme encompassing development, information exchange, dissemination and training, empowering Scotland's young citizens in understanding issues around ethnicity, identity and culture as well as directly addressing racism. The partnership has proved extremely effective. The St. Andrew's Day conference, which brought together nearly 600 children, young people and professionals working with children, was described by many as inspiring and invaluable, supporting local authorities, voluntary agencies and other providers in both tackling racism and developing awareness amongst children and young people on citizenship and racial equality issues.
The project has been the culmination of a relationship built up over a number of years. We work with a large number of agencies in partnership: this has been a particularly effective one.
The upgrading of the Commission's office in Scotland has also to our knowledge enabled the Commission to be much more active in relation to legislation both in informing legislation at Westminster and also within the Scottish Parliament. The Commission's office in Scotland played a significant role in relation to the Standards in Scotland's Schools Act, etc. 2000.
I hope the Committee finds this information of assistance and we would be very happy to provide any further information that may be required.
Dr Bronwen Cohen,
20 February 2002