Would you like an independent, non-judgemental, outside view of the equalities policies in your organisation?

Dorset Race Equality Council are offering this free service through the Connecting Advice in Dorset project for a limited time only. Contact Adnan at DREC if you are interested.

In September 2014, Shelter Dorset had an ‘Equality Healthcheck’ carried out by Dorset Race Equality Council. This is a free service offered through the Connecting Advice in Dorset project.

Shelter is a national organisation and all the policies are set at a national level. I was confident that the policies were robust but as the manager of the Dorset service, I was keen to see how they translated to our local service.

The equality healthcheck gave me the opportunity to talk through our organisational policies and how we apply these locally. The DREC team also spoke with various members of staff to see how far policies are embedded in day to day operations and how well staff understood these; not as well as we thought unfortunately.

The process was very straight forward and non – threatening. Overall the feedback was positive and even where there were suggestions for change these were made in a non-judgemental way. The audit confirmed that Shelter has good policies in place which was re-assuring but it also highlighted some areas where we could improve locally. We were given a written report and a follow up meeting to discuss what action we could take.

The suggestions were helpful and really practical e.g. we offer language line as a service for people who do not speak English as their first language. However, clients would only know about this once they have come into the advice centre. It was suggested that we actively promote this with a poster in the window so that we can attract clients who might otherwise be deterred from accessing the service.

Another idea was for Shelter Dorset to liaise with Shelter’s central recruitment team more to find out results of diversity monitoring for recruitment (which is carried out centrally in Shelters head office) so that we can input our suggestions to address any issues.

Although the Dorset team has completed Shelter’s mandatory diversity training we are going to have training from DREC to help us understand the local picture, have the opportunity to talk about any issues with our service and ensure that any action plans I make involve the team.

Thank you to DREC for offering this comprehensive and enlightening service!

Kate Parker, Service Manager, Shelter Dorset