Some areas are in need of and are undergoing significant economic development and regeneration. You may think that this is something done by business, local councils or the Government and it's nothing to do with you. Whilst they do play an important role, there are also many ways that you can get involved in the important decisions about economic development and regeneration in your local area.
Economic development and regeneration is about improving the quality of life in deprived areas - by addressing social problems such as unemployment, poverty, crime, poor education and health inequalities. This is done by partnerships between business, local and central Government and local communities. Many development projects have to make sure that local people are involved in the decisions throughout. You can get involved in a number of ways.
As a member of the local community you may simply want to get involved to improve the area for everyone – to give people better opportunities, to make it a safer and more pleasant place to live, or simply to ensure that the money being spent is spent well.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people however are as diverse as society as a whole and you may be experiencing, or know other gay people who are experiencing, the problems that economic development and regeneration projects seek to address. Problems such as poverty, homelessness, poor education, being the victim of crime and health inequalities - all of which can be caused by or made worse by peoples’ experiences of homophobia.
A lot of these problems can be addressed through regeneration projects getting to know a bit more about the local community. This includes the existence of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. By getting involved in development projects in your area, you can play a vital role in tackling the social and economic inequalities experienced by people in your community, including gay people.
This is an exciting time to get involved in local economic development and regeneration because individuals and communities are being given greater power to shape their environment and their local services so that they can better meet their needs.
Many of the existing structures for getting involved are being replaced by new and different ones. This means that the paths to getting involved may be less clear-cut.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your local council website or get in touch with them to find out what new opportunities may be emerging in your area. You can also check the website of the Department for Communities and Local Government for updates at http://www.communities.gov.uk/regeneration/about/
Why not take a look at the different ways you can get involved:
You may not have the time to volunteer for a specific role but there is plenty you can do to help make sure lesbian, gay and bisexual people are considered in decisions affecting the economic development of the local area. You could:
Local Enterprise Partnerships are partnerships between local authorities and businesses who work together to plan local economic development and regeneration. They enable local government and businesses to determine the economic priorities for your area and to launch initiatives to drive economic growth and the creation of local jobs.
Local Enterprise Partnerships are a relatively new initiative and still in their early stages. If you’re interested in getting involved, check your local council website for information, or get in touch with them to find out more about what they’ll be doing and how you can contribute. To find out if there’s a Local Enterprise Partnership in your area go to: www.communities.gov.uk/regeneration/economicgrowth/localenterprisepartnerships
Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) bring together local councils, other public sector agencies, local businesses, and voluntary and community organisations - encouraging them to collaborate and to jointly take on leadership roles in their area.
The specific roles of LSPs vary, as it’s up to them to decide how best to go about their business. Broadly speaking they exist to voice the needs of local people and to co-ordinate communication with the community on local issues - including on public services. They also help to decide how to best use available resources and how to ensure that different public services fit together and join up effectively.
Most Local Strategic Partnerships have a strategic group responsible for equality and diversity or community cohesion - they work to combat discrimination and to promote good relationships between different social groups. These groups usually consist of members who represent relevant local organisations.
Most LSPs now have their own websites - with details of what they’re doing and how you can get involved. Check your LSP website to find out more. For further information check: www.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=15217079
We spend most of our waking lives at work so it is no surprise that the people we meet and the cultures we encounter in our workplaces have an effect on our social attitudes. By ensuring their staff treat each other with respect, by making all staff feel judged only on merit and by allowing people to feel able to be themselves at work, employers play a crucial role in making society fairer for everyone.
Employers may think this is an extra burden or a drain on resources at an economically difficult time. In reality the opposite is true. Research has shown that creating a workplace where everyone, including lesbian, gay and bisexual people, can be themselves and where everyone is expected to treat each other with respect has significant benefits – staff are more productive, creative and loyal. And by failing to tackle discrimination and bullying in your workplace you open your business to legal action.
Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme - Britain’s good practice employers’ forum on sexual orientation, provides one-to-one advice on how to make your workplace the best it can be. Stonewall has also produced a range of free resources to help employers make their workplaces more LGB-friendly, which you can download or order here: http://www.stonewall.org.uk/at_work/research_and_guides/4907.asp