A new Equality and Rights Network (EaRN) has been set up in Edinburgh, funded by Edinburgh City Council.
The project is part of a more general council-wide plan to improve the provisions for those who are being discriminated against, and whose human rights need greater safeguarding in Edinburgh.
EaRN’s aims are to enable, “grassroots groups and organisations to work in partnership with public services”, in order to advance the cause of marginalised groups protected by the 2010 Equality Act.
The network also intends to advance equality by influencing public policy in the broader arenas of poverty and human rights.
The network’s primary focus will be on protecting the interests of those that are vulnerable to forms of discrimination. These include groups such as carers, people with disabilities, and LGBT+ communities.
Intending to create a more united movement to promote these aims, EaRN will encourage a culture of “information sharing” and “collaboration” between various Edinburgh rights-focused organisations.
Organisers behind EaRN will be recruiting volunteer Equalities Ambassadors in addition to their work with existing grassroots organisations, helping to create a link between “public services and the most marginalised groups in society”.
The philosophy behind these aims is one of “empowerment”. The project organisers’ aim is that, through the creation of such a network, individuals and communities will be more able to affect change in Edinburgh institutions.
Speaking to The Student, Administrations and Communications Officer Roseanna Macdonald stated: “I think this will be of interest to the student community due to its focus on community empowerment and the recruitment of volunteer Equalities Ambassadors.”
EaRN will work closely with the local NHS, police, emergency services, and higher education providers. As a subsidiary branch of Volunteer Edinburgh, the new network will take advantage of pre-existing links to the community.
Through such a network, EaRN insist, members will have a forum at regular events to share their ideas and priorities with each other. This kind of cohesion will enable member organisations to put more pressure on policy-makers to improve services for those who experience discrimination.
EaRN will also help facilitate a link to the institutions, so that smaller organisations can become involved in public policy revision.
Over the coming months EaRN will be using social media and events to recruit its members and volunteer Ambassadors. They claim that membership is open to, “any group, partnership, forum, organisation, agency, company or individual” working to promote human rights.
Image: Pete Birkinshaw