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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Fighting Inequality in Greater Manchester

Monday, 10 August 2020

With everything that has gone on in the past week it is easy to forget that there will come a time when we will turn away from the immediate crisis of the pandemic, to the longer struggle of deciding what our economy and society after coronavirus should look like. A poll conducted last month by the strategy consultancy Britain Thinks has revealed that only 12% of people nationally want life to return to normal “exactly as it was”. Instead of trying to turn back the clock, I believed we need to focus our energies on building back a better, kinder and fairer country.

In my role as Lead for Age-Friendly and Equalities in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), I’m delighted to say that we have already taken the first steps in this journey.  Over the past few years, we have brought together representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors into a number of “Equality Panels” to identify and challenge prejudice wherever it exists in Greater Manchester. Sometimes that prejudice takes the form of open discrimination or hate crime, but other times it can be because the ways we do things does not properly take into account the specific needs of certain groups of people.

These Equality Panels already exist for young people, older people, those with disabilities and members of the LGBT community, but now we are adding three new Panels. The first of these is the Woman and Girl’s Equality Panel, which will be chaired by myself and Pam Smith, the Chief Executive of Stockport Council. Our goal is simple; to make sure that every woman and girl in Greater Manchester has the opportunity to live their best lives. Even at this early stage we have identified a number of areas we need to look closely at. We will work to prevent violence against women and girls, including sexual violence, human trafficking and modern slavery. The Panel will also investigate the obstacles women may face because of their gender when it comes to employment and education in Greater Manchester as well as the health issues, both physical and mental, that may have arisen or been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic. Finally, in an area particularly close to my heart, we will offer a helping hand to women who want to become representatives of their communities. I may be the first woman to be elected Leader of Tameside Council, but I have no intention of being the last.

The other two panels will focus on residents of different Races and Faiths. Greater Manchester is one of the most diverse parts of the country, and the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted that action to address the inequalities faced by many is needed now more than ever. We know that residents from our Black, Asian and other ethnic communities have suffered disproportionately from worst symptoms of coronavirus, and I have personally heard stories of some of the appalling abuse they have faced from people who, with no evidence, have blamed them for the recent spike in infection rates in Greater Manchester. The Panel will also begin to collect evidence on how our black, Asian and minority ethnic communities may face discrimination in other areas such as access to health services, education, employment and housing.

You can give your views on what you think the priorities of Race and Faith Equality Panels should be through the GMConsult website here. The GMCA website also has further information and an application form here for residents or organisations who would like a place on the Women and Girl’s Equality Panel. The deadline for both of these is the 16th August, and I would encourage you to get involved if there’s something you think you can contribute. As we begin to think about life after coronavirus, let’s work together to make a real difference in our city region.

Posted by: Executive Leader

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