Equality & diversity

Equality & diversity

We’re committed to making sure all council services are accessible and free from prejudice and discrimination.

Equality in Northumberland

We aim to be an accessible and inclusive organisation. We welcome and respect the diversity of all people visiting, living and working in the county.

We have set out our commitment to equality in our council equality and diversity policy.

If you need council information in large print, braille, audio or in another format or language - contact us:
  • telephone: 0345 600 6400 or see the website for landline numbers
  • fax: 01670 620 223
  • text phone: 01670 542 999
  • NGT: 18001 01670 622674 (for people with a speech or hearing impairment)

Equality & the council
We are an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all suitably qualified people regardless of sex, religion or belief, race, age, sexual orientation, whether they are married or are in a civil partnership, are disabled, have a maternity or pregnancy status or are undergoing or intend to undergo gender reassignment.

We want to make sure our recruitment and selection processes are fair and accessible to everyone who applies to work here. We are listed as a Stonewall Top 100 Employer for 2016 and are part of the Disability Confident employer scheme. We encourage disabled applicants and will interview all those who meet the minimum essential criteria for a job vacancy.

In addition, all disabled applicants can ask for reasonable adjustments to be made during the application, interview and assessment process. See details further down the page in the ‘disability equality’, ‘access to work’ and the ‘staff disability network’ sections.
The Equality Act & the protected characteristics
The Equality Act 2010 covers nine protected characteristics, which cannot be used as a reason to treat people unfairly. Everyone has one or more of the protected characteristics, so the act protects everyone against unfair treatment.

The protected characteristics are:
  • age
  • disability
  • race
  • sex
  • gender reassignment
  • sexual orientation
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • religion or belief
  • marriage and civil partnership
The Equality Act sets out the different unlawful ways to treat someone in providing services and in employment.
For more information, please visit the Equality and Human Rights Commission website.
Our equality information
The Equality Act 2101 requires us to carefully consider the effects of our services and practices. This helps us make sure our services are fair for all groups. It also helps us to tackle negative effects or discrimination and to promote equality.

Our equality information report below shows what we feel the key equality issues are, what we have in place already, and what else we feel is required. The main report gives a summary of these main issues, with appendices giving more details about each council group.
Our equality objectives
As part of our duty under the Equality Act 2010, the council publishes equality objectives every four years. These set out our equality priorities regarding employment practices and the way we provide services.

We published our first equality objectives in 2012. We reviewed our objectives in 2016 to check if they were still relevant and to consider how they might be updated.

As part of this process we tried to engage with as many different people and groups as we could to make sure the objectives we set were the right ones. We held a consultation to find out which objectives people thought we should prioritise over the next four years. 

Following the consultation, our equality objectives for 2016-20 are:

1. To ensure that our services are accessible for all customers we will improve collection of data about their experiences to help us improve our services for everyone in Northumberland.

2. To improve access to, and the experience of, council services for disabled people, and in particular older disabled people, to help bring their life opportunities more closely into line with those of other groups in the community.

3. Promote and foster an accessible and inclusive culture and working environment for all our staff

4. Work with communities to prevent hate incidents and crimes and encourage reporting.


If you would like to find out more about the consultation and to see why we have chosen these objectives, please see our consultation report.

We are developing an action plan to help us meet our objectives.

If you need this information in large print, braille, audio, or another format please contact us:
Telephone: 01670 622674
Fax: 01670 620 223
Text phone: 01670 542 999
NGT: 18001 01670 622674 (for people with a speech or hearing impairment)
Email: Keith.Thompson@northumberland.gov.uk.
Access to information in different formats
Useful resources for disabled people
Visit England has produced a useful guide that covers how to get assistance at railway stations and information about accommodation, restaurants and places to visit that have been specifically assessed for those with access needs.

It also includes information about parking and facilities for blue badge users, an app to help locate accessible toilet facilities and suggestions for accessible walks and activities in the countryside.
Equality impact assessments
The council has a legislative duty to consider the impact of decisions it takes, including decisions about budget savings that affect people who share a protected characteristic. To help us with this, we have an equality impact assessment tool we use when key decisions that may have an impact are considered.

The council also completes an annual strategic equality analysis focusing on its functions and services. This is included in our annual equality information.

 
Disability equality in employment
We guarantee to interview anyone with a disability whose application meets the minimum essential criteria.

If you have a disability, tick the disability box on the application form or let the appointing officer know you wish to be considered under the guaranteed interview scheme. The appointing officer is the person named in the job advert to contact about the vacancy. If you do not know who the appointing officer is contact the council, ask for employee services and provide the vacancy reference number.

You will be offered an interview if your application meets all of the essential requirements in the person specification. Your application doesn’t have to meet all the desirable conditions if you are applying under the guaranteed interview scheme.

If you make an application as a disabled person and you do not have a disability, this could result in a job offer being withdrawn. Please see the guidance on the definition of disability below if you are not sure if you meet the Equality Act definition of a disabled person.

If you’re disabled, you’ll be given the opportunity to identify adjustments you require to the application form, to attend an interview or during the assessment process. These could include requesting an interview room on the ground floor, requesting a morning or afternoon interview or requesting large print documents. For other examples of adjustments, please see the guidance for managers in supporting disabled staff.

If you feel you meet the essential criteria, but haven’t been offered an interview, please contact the appointing officer.

Access to Work
Access to Work is a source of funding to support disabled employees.
It pays for practical support for those with a disability, health or mental health condition, to help them do their job. If you fit these criteria you may be able to apply.

There’s no set amount for a grant, as it is based on circumstances. The money you get can pay for things like:
  • specialist equipment
  • travel when you can’t use public transport
  • a communicator at a job interview
  • a support worker or job coach to help you in work
  • disability awareness for your colleagues
  • adaptations to the equipment you use
Your disability or health condition must affect your ability to do a job or mean you incur work-related costs, e.g. travel costs because you can’t use public transport.

Your mental health condition must affect your ability to do a job and mean you need support to:
  • start a new job
  • reduce absence from work
  • stay in work
To find out more about Access to Work, click on the link below:- Or to check your eligibility:-

Glasgow (for Scotland, North West England, North East England, Yorkshire and Humberside)
Access to Work - Glasgow
atwosu.glasgow@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 0141 950 5327
Textphone: 0345 602 5850
Fax: 0141 950 5265

Definition of disability and guidance for managers supporting disabled staff
It can be difficult for employees and managers to assess if a person’s medical condition is defined as a disability and is protected by the Equality Act 2010. Some conditions automatically mean a person is considered to be disabled. These include a person who has cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV or a qualifying sight condition, among other things.
Other conditions, which may be progressive or fluctuating, can be more difficult to assess. A guide has been produced to help people identify whether they meet the Equality Act’s definition of disability.

We also have guidance for managers supporting disabled staff.

Staff disability network
We set up a network, in partnership with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, to help improve the experience of disabled members of staff working in both organisations. The group is open to all staff interested in making our organisations more inclusive.

For more information, please contact Irene Fisher at Irene.Fisher@northumberland.gov.uk
Equality & non-council services
Under the Equality Act 2010, the council does not have any powers to make other businesses make adjustments to their premises unless they make an application under building regulations to extend or refurbish their building or, in some cases, apply for licenses.

Complaints about failure to make a reasonable adjustment to premises must be made by the person discriminated against or their representative. It explains how equality law applies to all businesses and includes information on providing goods, facilities and services in different sectors. It also explains what action you can take if you feel you have been discriminated against.

The equality advisory & support service advises and assists individuals on equality and human rights issues. They will work with people to decide the best action to take to resolve an issue.
Sexual orientation equality, lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender (LGBT) staff network group & role models
The council is a Stonewall diversity champion, which means it is part of a best practice forum for employers on sexual orientation. As part of this, the council has been working together with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to improve the experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff in the workplace.

Our staff group meets regularly to talk about how things can be improved and provide support. The group is open to LGBT and non-LGBT staff with an interest in creating a more inclusive workplace. For more information about the group, contact LGBT champion Patrick Price at: Patrick.Price@nhct.nhs.uk

Bisexual people in the workplace
We know people perform better when they can be themselves. Despite many great strides made to achieve sexual orientation equality, many bisexual people still feel unable to be themselves at work and some feel that there is a lack of understanding about the issues they may face. Some practical advice for employers is available here.

Trans Allies
People who are going through the process of changing from one gender to another can face extreme hostility and prejudice, and are at a greatly increased risk of self-harm and suicide.

A survey conducted by PACE, a LGBT mental health charity found that 48% of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide, and 30% said they had done so in the past year, while 59% said they had at least considered doing so.

To help raise awareness we have a gender reassignment policy.

View our poster about being a trans ally.

Mesmac North East provides information and resources for LGBT people in the region.
 
LGBT equality champions & role models
‘Diversity role models’ write about acceptance and respect for diversity they have experienced within the council or Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Role models could be any members of staff who share a protected characteristic and want to talk about their experience.

If you want to be a diversity role model and/or an equality and diversity ally, please email: Elena.Garcia@nhct.nhs.uk or Irene.Fisher@northumberland.gov.uk




Description: Cll Roberto Arckless
"When I was a child being gay was a criminal offence. Men faced prosecution under Victorian legislation not repealed until 1967. There was a climate of fear, of blackmail and repression. As a disabled person I know all about being "different" and the challenges that can bring. It took me many years to come to terms with the fact that I also happen to be gay. Having a committed Christian faith was a significant factor in my own struggle to reach acceptance.

"I am delighted that in recent years there has been a real change in attitudes within Christianity and other faith groups, and in the whole of society. There is more understanding, and prejudice and discrimination are challenged. I believe there are still challenges to face. This is particularly true in some of our more isolated and traditional communities.

"As the lead member for children’s services with the county council, I am proud of the work that is being done in our schools to tackle homophobia, bullying and harassment as part of the Stonewall Education Champion programme. I have been hugely impressed by the courage of young people, who are not prepared to accept outdated prejudice, and by the work of staff who are finding ways to deal with issues that are so important to everyone making the journey to adulthood.

"I was delighted to be involved in the Northern Pride event, to show my support for LGBT equality. Northumberland is a more tolerant and inclusive place to live and work and, while there is no room for complacency, we should celebrate that fact."

Cllr Robert Arckless, lead member, children’s services

"I have been out as a gay man ever since I joined the organisation and can honestly say I have never been treated with anything less than complete respect. NCC and the trust welcome the input of both LGBT staff and the wider LGBT community."


Patrick Price, interim general manager, equality & diversity lead, Northumbria Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust, and joint NCC and Trust LGBT champion.

Contact details
For more information about the group – to either join – or to just be kept informed about its work - please contact the joint LGBT champion Patrick Price on:
Useful information, resources and websites
Equality monitoring
Why should I fill in equality monitoring forms?
Wherever you go, people want to know your business - your age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or whether you’re disabled. Where does all this information go? Does filling in the forms make any difference?

The information provided is taken seriously and helps with setting priorities, understanding who is or isn’t using our services, or if their experience of the council is different to other peoples. Equality monitoring helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we need to improve.

As a result of feedback from previous surveys, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and disability staff groups were set up and these groups have been important in producing guidance for managers. They have contributed to training, support for staff and engagement with these groups.

For information about why we collect this information, and to help with questions about equality monitoring, Stonewall has produced a plain-English guide - What's it got to do with you? This explains why a range of data may now be requested by employers and service providers, and what the benefit of providing this information is.

Equality monitoring in the workforce
It is important to us to understand how representative our workforce is of our wider community and to check our processes and practices are accessible and fair. We also have a legal duty to collect and publish data on this. Therefore, we are asking our staff to help as we attempt to gather this information. Equality monitoring in our services
It is also important for us, in some situations, to collect equality monitoring data about the people who use our services, so we can ensure they’re accessible to everyone. We have produced guidance for services on how and when to appropriately do this. For further information about equality monitoring, please contact Irene Fisher.
Equality & diversity allies
An equality and diversity ally is someone who is committed to equality and diversity and human rights, wants to help raise awareness of equality and diversity topics and to contribute to developing a positive culture.

This can be anyone within the council or our partner organisations, regardless of their role or experience. Training and support will be provided. If you would like to become an ally, or for more information, contact Irene Fisher or Keith Thompson.
Hate crime in Northumberland
Hate crime is an extreme manifestation of prejudice and discrimination. It can have a devastating effect on individuals and communities. We work closely with the police and others to tackle all forms of hate crime, take action against perpetrators, support victims and protect the public. Hate crime can include verbal abuse, threatening behaviour, offensive graffiti, harassment, malicious communications, damage to property and violence.

We encourage anyone who experiences hate crime to report it immediately. This is vital to ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice. Hate crime will not be tolerated in Northumberland. Hate crime is any criminal offence where anyone believes the victim has been targeted because of their race/ethnicity, religion/belief, gender/gender identity, disability, age, sexual orientation or any other actual or perceived characteristic.

Hate incidents are different in that they do not constitute a criminal offence but cause alarm, distress or harassment. It is still based on the belief the victim has been targeted because of one of the actual or perceived differences above. Hate crimes and incidents can also be directed at whole communities – for example desecration of graveyards, vandalism of places of worship, offensive graffiti in public places or acts of terrorism. 

Homophobia and homophobic bullying and harassment
Homophobia is an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against people who are gay or homosexual. Homophobic bullying and harassment can be described as any hostile or offensive action against lesbians, gays, bisexual or transgender people, or those perceived to be as such.
These actions might be:
  • verbal, physical, or emotional (social exclusion) harassment, insulting or degrading comments, name calling, gestures, taunts, insults, threats or 'jokes'
  • offensive graffiti
  • humiliating, excluding, tormenting, ridiculing or threatening or refusing to work/ co-operate with others because of their sexual orientation or identity
We have a bullying and harassment policy for protection of our employees, which outlines how members of staff can seek support. 

Reporting hate crime

Why report a hate crime?
Only a reported hate crime can be properly dealt with. No-one has the right to harass, threaten or assault anyone because of who they are. If you need to report a hate crime in an emergency, call the police on 999 – particularly if it’s still happening or has just happened. Callers can report an incident anonymously, although personal details mean it’s easier to investigate.

If you do not wish to report to the police, you can report an incident to Northumberland County Council in the following ways: When you contact the council you will be referred to someone who can help. All information is treated in the strictest confidence.

Accessibility

Here you will find information about accessing Northumberland County Council’s buildings and website.

Watch this two-minute guide to using our website:

Access to council buildings
DisabledGo provides information to disabled people about access. Their aim is to give you information so you can make up your own mind as to whether somewhere is right for you.
Accessibly and the website
We are committed to producing accessible and usable online services. We have previously engaged the services of Ability Net to advise us on accessibility and held sessions with residents to check usability.

This site should function in most up-to-date browsers, regardless of platform. The responsive design should be usable for anyone using a modern smart-phone, tablet or computer. 
How to change your browser settings
Although the site allows you to change the text size and the contrast of the foreground and background colours, the ability to change the way your internet browser displays this site is better controlled within the browser itself.

The BBC have created very useful tutorials, which you can find below.

Change text and background colours Magnify your screen Make the mouse pointer easier to see Make your computer speak text aloud Make your text larger
Options for changing font size
The option for resizing the text is displayed on the top left menu of the website.
  • The first A reduces the text size down to 80%
  • The centre A keeps the text size a 100%
  • The last A expands the text size to 120%
Languages
This website can be translated using Google translate or Intertran. Some languages cannot be translated but we have provided a document explaining how to receive further information in that language.
PDF documents
A large number of Northumberland County Council documents are made available to the public in the portable document format (PDF). PDF files can be viewed using a number of different software products.

Some free alternatives include:
Name Platform
Adobe Reader Windows, MacOSX, Unix/Linux, iOS, Android
Evince Windows, Unix/Linux
Foxit Reader Windows, Unix/Linux
Nitro Reader Windows
Okular Windows, MacOSX, Unix/Linux
Sumatra PDF Windows
 
We do not endorse or offer warranties as to the suitability or safety of any of the listed products. Care should be taken to ensure the software being installed is appropriate for your needs and malware-free.

How to access the nationality check and citizenship service

You will need to make an appointment at one of the local authorities.

What is the ‘life in the UK’ test?
You should take the test if you are applying for naturalisation as a British citizen and your level of English is ESOL Entry 3 or above.

If you pass the test, you are given a letter which proves you have been successful. This is called your pass notification letter and you will need to bring this to your appointment.

If your level of English is lower than ESOL Entry 3 and you wish to apply for naturalisation, you will need to attend combined English language (ESOL) and citizenship classes instead. Classes will run at your local further education or community college.
Asylum & immigration
The nationality checking service cannot give you advice on immigration matters.
Citizenship ceremonies
The citizenship ceremony is intended to celebrate the significance of becoming a British citizen and welcome the new citizen into a community.
About citizenship ceremonies
The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 includes a provision requiring all successful applicants aged 18 or over for naturalisation or registration as a British citizen to take an oath and pledge at a citizenship ceremony, unless exempted by the Home Secretary.

For any queries about your British citizenship ceremony, please contact the citizenship co-ordination team on 01670 622542.
Who can attend a ceremony?
New citizens may wish to celebrate their citizenship with their family and friends. Restrictions may be imposed due to the capacity of the available venue. 
Do children & young people have to attend?
Although there is no legal requirement for anyone under 18 to attend the ceremony and take the oath and pledge, it is the government's intention to treat the ceremony as both a family and community occasion, and young people are encouraged to participate with their parents.
Is there a time limit?
The ceremony must take place within three months of being informed of a successful application.
How much will it cost?
The fee for the ceremony is £68, payable to the Home Office when applying for naturalisation or registration as a British citizen.
What do I do next?
The Home Office will inform Northumberland County Council of the names of all prospective citizens. We will then contact them and advise on all aspects of the ceremony.
Where will my ceremony take place?
Usually, ceremonies will take place at the Town Hall in Morpeth, Northumberland. Although, at an extra cost, ceremonies can take place at other venues.
Can I have a private ceremony?
There are occasions where candidates for British citizenship need to attend a ceremony before the next scheduled date. The citizenship team will try to arrange a ceremony at the register office to accommodate. This will be at an additional cost and can be arranged by contacting the citizenship co-ordination team on 01670 622542.
Applying for citizenship
For more advice about British citizenship, please visit the Home Office website or contact them directly:
  • Phone: 0845 010 5200
  • Post: Home Office, Managed Migration, Nationality Group, PO Box 306, Liverpool, L2 0QN