The overall aim of the Developing Discrimination Advice Workstream was to increase the availability of high quality discrimination advice to the public.
During the period of the Working Together for Advice project, this workstream developed training materials and delivered training on discrimination advice. As the legislation on discrimination changed with the Equality Act 2010, many of these materials are no longer relevant, so we have not made them available on the website.
We produced a list of resources for advisers working on discrimination issues: these are still relevant.
Towards achieving its overall aim, the workstream mapped current level of discrimination advice provision in the nine English regions and this information was used to design the best approach to deliver its stated objectives whilst maximising a limited workstream budget. The findings of this mapping exercise are in the following report: Developing Discrimination Advice Strategy paper 1. The workstream also developed a training strategy Developing Discrimination Advice Strategy paper 2 and a public legal education strategy for developing discrimination.
To achieve its overall aim, the workstream focused its strategy on the following activities:
- Development and delivery of discrimination advice training at three levels of advice provision (information, generalist & specialist).
- Pilot of 6 Discrimination Advice Referral Networks
- Nine regional events for discrimination advisers
- Pilot of Mentoring Scheme for discrimination advisers (in partnership with the Bar Pro Bono Unit)
The workstream developed and piloted highly successful information, generalist and specialist training courses in non-employment discrimination advice, delivered through fifty six training sessions to over five hundred advisers across the main advice networks’ membership. In addition, the Workstream piloted a train-the-trainer course, through which thirty five specialist advisers and managers were trained to roll out the information level course to others in their local areas or region.
Feedback from training participants was overwhelmingly positive with, for example, on average the top score of 4 (out of 4) being given by 77% of participants in relation to them being able to use the information in their work and 85% finding the content relevant. The advisers that took part in the training said that they are more aware of discrimination issues, how to identify discrimination issues when they are not presented by the client, how best to assist clients with discrimination problems, and that they would share their learning with colleagues. Further information and an evaluation of the training can be found in the Developing Discrimination Advice evaluation report.
The six referrals networks piloted by the Workstream achieved positive results for participating agencies. The networks differed in their approaches as some were building on existing work and some started from scratch. Each network also used the additional resources to deliver activities that best suited the needs of their local area.
All of the networks benefited from increased awareness between agencies of services and discrimination issues. This was supplemented by further network-specific outcomes, further details of which can be found in the workstream evaluation report.
Two of the lead agencies who initially signed up to lead pilots withdrew half way through because of external reasons that impacted upon their workload which made it impossible for them to continue with the pilots. The Workstream responded positively to this challenge by recruiting two new pilots which started half way through the year resulting in the two “mini pilots” which ran from April – Sept 2010.
The success of the networks was also influenced by factors such as whether the network was set up for the purpose of the pilot rather than pilot resources developing an existing network, interest from other agencies to participate in the pilot and the competitive nature of funding between agencies.
Nevertheless, positive outcomes were achieved by all of the pilot networks including:
- increase in the profile of discrimination advice and how it links in with other subject areas
- resources developed specifically to meet needs identified within network partners
- training designed and delivered specifically for network partners
- increased awareness of referral and signposting options in the pilot areas and
- increased awareness of other support services such as the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) funded Equalities Mediation Services and how to access them
- increased awareness about Public Legal Education (PLE) as a method for empowering service users to deal with equalities issues effectively
Further information and an evaluation of the referral network pilots can be found in the Developing Discrimination Advice evaluation report.
The Workstream held nine regional events (often referred to as mini-conferences) between November 2009 and March 2010. Delegates from 125 advice agencies attended the events. The events were highly successful in the following ways:
- workstream engagement with EHRC legal and regional teams
- EHRC participation meant legal and regional teams picked up region specific issues
- Advisers benefited from input from partners through pertinent workshop topics
- The events consolidated workstream efforts to develop better local referral for discrimination advice
- Further training needs were identified in the regions informing future work plans for advice networks
Further information and an evaluation of the regional events can be found in a separate mini conference report and in the Developing Discrimination Advice evaluation report.
The success of the mentoring scheme pilot was extensive for both mentors and mentees. The success of the scheme demonstrated how collaborations between voluntary and private sectors could be exploited, to the benefit of service users. The mentoring scheme was devised to address the problem of isolation identified by advisers as a major obstacle in the provision of discrimination advice. The scheme was set up in partnership with the Bar Pro Bono Unit and ran for over a year.
Fifteen generalist and specialist advisers chosen from AdviceUK, Citizens Advice and Law Centres Federation membership were matched with 14 barristers who had indicated an interest to mentor advisers (one mentor had two mentees). The arrangement was not a replacement for formal supervision but rather an opportunity for the advisers to learn
The Bar Pro Bono Unit plans to continue to take forward the mentoring scheme, in partnership with Citizens Advice, Advice UK and Law Centres Federation. This is a testament to its success but without funding this can only be done in a very limited way.
Further information and an evaluation of the mentoring scheme can be found in the Evaluation of Discrimination Advice Mentoring Pilot Report.