18 June 2013

Volunteers are needed for a new initiative aimed at improving how Northamptonshire County Council consults with different community groups.

The volunteers will become community champions and join the council’s equality challenge board to help establish new and better ways for the council to reach different community groups when it is consulting and engaging on key decisions and policies.

Becoming a community champion

Individuals from a wide range of equality groups are being invited to apply to represent what are known as 'protected characteristics' under the Equality Act 2010, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, different minority ethnic communities and people with disabilities including those with mental health and / or learning disabilities and people from a variety of religious faiths or beliefs.

The champions will be asked to commit up to one day a week for a maximum of 12 months and in return will receive expenses and a training programme including individual mentoring.

Cabinet member for finance and performance Councillor Bill Parker said: “This is an opportunity for people to gain new skills and experiences working alongside the council to help improve communications with their communities. We’re looking for people who can credibly represent the interests of the target groups, to make sure we are improving the way we consult and engage with everyone in the county.”

Why has this project been launched?

The initiative follows recommendations from the council’s peer assessment on the Equality Framework for Local Government which found that the council needed to do more to reach out to different communities and promote greater diversity in its engagement and involvement strategies.

The project is being delivered by Community Innovations Enterprise (CIE) as part of the council’s ongoing equalities programme. Anyone interested in becoming a champion or who wants to discuss the project in more detail contact Jon Bashford at CIE by email jon@ciellp.com or telephone Catherine Wills, Policy Officer for Equalities at the county council on 01604 366019.