Lord Herman Ouseley Chairs The BURA Equality And Diversity Forum
A seminar chaired today (Thursday 27 November ’08) by Lord Herman Ouseley in London drew a wide range of attendees from across the country. This was the first post-launch meeting of the BURA Equality and Diversity Forum, which will offer a programme of events around equity and effectiveness in regeneration across the business perspective, planning, site assembly, capacity building and much else.
This seminar, in Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre, London, followed the British Urban Regeneration Association (BURA) Equality and Diversity Forum Launch earlier in the year. The tasks which attendees set themselves this time around included examination of the business case for serious attention to E&D, and a look at the scope and capacity within the regeneration sector to deliver on equity.
An important element of the debate was that it included people with many different experiences and starting points, who together sought to identify a common understanding of effective approaches in regeneration to E&D in all its aspects.
Speakers during the event included Lord Herman Ouseley (conference chair), Paul Taverner of Bevan Brittan (developing E&D in a corporate context), Prof. Erik Bichard of the University of Salford (the E&D business case), John Bell and Paul Drake of ECOTEC (diversity), Sofia Yaqoob of Carnation and Jonathan Wilson of Carey Jones Architects (a case study of development in Bradford), Waqar Hussain (the Blackburn experience) and Michael Ward, Chief Executive of BURA (on ways forward). The conference convenor and rapporteur was Hilary Burrage (BURA Board member and BURA E&D Champion).
There is a real business case for this issue and a refreshed enthusiasm for inclusivity in regeneration, an appetite for change and a developing sense of purpose. Everyone, from all corners of the social spectrum, can have valid and valuable contributions to make to the make-up and shape of places being created or re-created. That’s not just ensuring each and every community within a community has a proper voice, but also that the workforce that delivers change is properly representative too.
This isn’t just about ensuring regeneration signs up to the E&D agenda, it’s about shaping places that work better.
Lord Herman Ouseley
Taking forward a serious corporate commitment to E&D in my (legal) company has been a very positive experience, which has brought people together in common cause, and has been beneficial to organisational performance. It requires an open mind and perseverance, but it is definitely worth the effort, both because it is the inherently proper thing to do, and because it brings good business outcomes.
Paul Taverner, Bevan Brittan
My research around people with disabilities who wish to work demonstrates the many assumptions we should, actually, not make, about how best to support their moves in this direction. When we provide services for people from a range of backgrounds and experiences we need always to discover from them themselves what is required and how to provide support. From that baseline we can all begin to benefit more fully, economically as well as socially, from the positive outcomes and effects of including everyone in our communities.
Prof. Erik Bichard, University of Salford
The regeneration profession needs to get better at E&D because only then can it understand the main barriers that need to be overcome in order to support individuals living in areas undergoing renewal. The current lack of understanding often results in missed opportunities both in employment into regeneration and in how local services are developed and delivered. Only when you invest in understanding the needs of diverse communities can you ensure services and opportunities are truly inclusive.
John Bell, ECOTEC
The regeneration profession needs to get better at E&D because it is an issue that is rarely properly addressed or fully understood. Whilst it is possible to conduct market research, there is no substitute for real life experience and fully integrating with those who have grown up in the local community.
Though I am of Kashmiri descent, I am principally British, and would like to think that I take the very best of my natural heritage to be an intrinsic and integral part of my British culture.
Some regeneration schemes can further divide communities rather than bring them together. Thus, it is of fundamental importance to provide the correct mix of uses on site to ensure that this does not happen. The LGA reinforces this, stating the need to give communities ‘a real stake in the regeneration of their neighbourhoods’. It is our aim to deliver this.
Sofia Yaqoob, Carnation
Leadership is always an issue in delivering E&D in communities. We need to be aware of the nuances of understanding in communities about who is deemed to be entitled to lead, and in what ways. Communities comprise people of all ages, men and women with different backgrounds and expectations, and this diversity must be reflected in the ways we try to work with communities to deliver their requirements.
Regenerators are missing a trick at the moment. With the economic cycle in its current state, observing E&D could be the source of enterprise and creativity that is desperately required to keep regeneration on track. This is just one of the reasons why the BURA board is so passionately behind the E&D agenda, it’s not just about idealism, its about our core business. If you don’t believe me check the Boards of the Fortune 100 and FTSE 100. Those that represent good E&D practice are the strongest performers.
There is a small group of innovators and pioneers already signed up to this issue, but we’re also keen to reach everyone else, the others who are just waking up and keen to weave good E&D practice because its good business.
If we as regeneration practitioners neglect E&D, we are simply not doing our job very well, in either the business or the social sense. Attention to E&D is a fundamental part of genuine regeneration. How can a community develop and thrive if it is not fair and inclusive?
Hilary Burrage, BURA Board Director & E&D Champion
As we move beyond the CRE 2008 Report and other recent investigations in regeneration, we must attend to the E&D outcomes of regeneration, as well as to employment practices within the sector. Fair outcomes are required in funding allocations, types of housing and choices of areas for development.
BURA can, and will, work to build good practice in all parts of the sector. We will seek a ‘better way of working’. As we talk with our partners and with government we will keep true to our commitment to E&D, and find ways to take it forward.
Michael Ward, BURA Chief Executive
See more on the British Urban Regeneration Association (BURA) and visit the BURA website; and read about Social Inclusion And Diversity.
For more information on the BURA E&D Forum please contact Michael Ward at BURA