Making our work more diverse: black and minority
ethnic community involvement with gardening projects

·   Know the ethnic make-up and diversity of the community where you
A range of local             operate.
contacts and   ...
The experience has confirmed that delivering traditional ‘British’ gardening
activities is perhaps not the best way of mee...
Good Practice Tips
                         · Recognise the relationship of people to the environment e.g.
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Diversity: Making our work more diverse


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Black and minority ethnic community involvement with gardening projects

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Diversity: Making our work more diverse

  1. 1. Diversity Making our work more diverse: black and minority ethnic community involvement with gardening projects Introduction/Background Have you ever considered how your project is meeting the needs of ethnic communities in your area? This briefing sheet aims to provide the basic tools to get you started in addressing this important area of social inclusion. Thrive secured funding from The Henry Smith Charity for a two- year diversity project aimed at broadening the participation of black and minority ethnic (BME) groups in social and therapeutic horticulture (STH). Work commenced in 2004 and is coming to the end of its second year in December 2005. The diversity project has followed on from research by the University of Western England (UWE) commissioned by Thrive. The research shows that ethnic minority groups are under- represented in STH projects as staff, volunteers and service users. A number of barriers to participation have been identified: Organisational barriers · All white staff in projects · Complex referral routes · Projects’ reliance on client-linked funding · Lack of sustainable long-term funding enabling development of more proactive community initiatives Cultural barriers · Perceptions that BME groups cannot enjoy or feel that it is an appropriate activity for them · BME groups feel more comfortable dealing with mental health problems or disability issues within their own communities Evidence from the research highlights that there is · No evidence that people from BME groups dislike gardening · No evidence to suggest that people from BME groups would not benefit from participating in gardening projects Summary of recommendations from the research · The issue of low involvement of BME groups should be considered within the context of social exclusion and marginalisation. This would recognise that the broad issues Thrive Briefing confronting organisations are not unique, but are similar for all service providers seeking to deliver services to any socially Sheet no: excluded groups. · Ensure members from BME groups are included in publicity. · Link with other organisations who work with BME groups e.g. Black Environment Network (BEN) and other national and local BME organisations. 9
  2. 2. · Know the ethnic make-up and diversity of the community where you A range of local operate. contacts and · View equal opportunities policies as the starting point for further networks include: developments. · Think local – consider the issues and identify strategies that suit Councils of mosques individual circumstances and local communities. – in some areas · Network to spread examples of good practice and encourage innovation. mosques have · Think how to make links with local communities e.g. contacting local formed local community groups or leaders. networks. · Consider how to become more visible locally, through presence at local events, fairs, markets and festivals. Racial Equality · Encourage referrals of BME clients by telling Social Services that you are Councils actively seeking such clients. Council for Two contrasting horticultural projects, RFET (Richmond Fellowship Voluntary Service – Employment and Training) TWIGS (Therapeutic Work in Gardening in the local CVS often Swindon) and the Thrive St Mary’s Garden Project in Hackney are engaged in has good contacts the work. The pilot projects first identified a starting point and an ideal destination of where they would like to be in terms of diversity. Thrive is monitoring progress on activity levels, response rates and changes to work Local authority practices. community development teams Case studies: Who the pilot projects are and why they have – some authorities participated will have cultural harmony working RFET TWIGS: In the last two years in particular, because of funding received groups and/or through Thrive as part of the diversity project, RFET TWIGS have officers with a strengthened ties with BME communities in Swindon. Success comes from cohesion remit. committed staff and volunteers outreaching (often out of contracted working hours) and building relationships with community groups. Seeking out Inter-faith councils socially excluded individuals who are looking to improve their quality of life has also been fruitful. Ethnic minority development TWIGS had already started work on improving diversity at the project in the associations three years prior to involvement in Thrive’s project. This work continued when it became part of Richmond Fellowship Employment and Training Learning and Skills (RFET), a charity who had diversity as a major part of its business plan to Councils will have ensure that everyone in the organisation took steps to improve diversity. The funded some project is located in an area with no obvious links with BME groups. providers for ethnic Groups that RFET TWIGS have worked with include Swindon’s Asian minority Women’s Group, Inter-Faith Group, The Harbour project for Asylum Seekers achievement and and Refugees and the Sikh Community. Along the way, the project has therefore will be able gained invaluable advice and experience from BEN and BTCV who have also to help identify provided both staff and service users with diversity training. existing providers in their area. RFET TWIGS has found it beneficial to take a proactive approach in the services it provides to embrace and celebrate cultural diversity through posters and positive statements that openly declare its stance. Because of these positive changes, the project now has four people from BME communities using its service and three working as volunteers. Workshop provision is as creative and adaptable as possible, focusing on crafts from around the world that are intrinsically linked to materials found in ‘the garden’.
  3. 3. The experience has confirmed that delivering traditional ‘British’ gardening activities is perhaps not the best way of meeting the needs of BME Useful Websites communities. Black Environment Thrive St Mary’s Garden Project already had a quite broad cultural and ethnic Network (BEN) mix when selected as one of the two pilot sites for Thrive’s diversity project. www.ben- At first sight, therefore, its selection as a pilot may be somewhat surprising. network.org.uk However, as an inner-city project it provides a strong contrast to RFET TWIGS in Swindon. Furthermore, when at the start of the project the Black Neighbourhood cultural mix was compared with the borough profile, two significant ethnic Renewal and groups were identified which were not represented at all – the Chinese and Regeneration Vietnamese communities. Network (BNRRN) www.bnrrn.org.uk There are over 200 languages spoken in Hackney and in trying to identify which four or five the project should use in its literature consideration was Black Training & given to follow those used in the local education authority building that has Enterprise Group only been open three years. On pursuing this the advice was that in some (BTEG) cases other languages were now more relevant! www.bteg.co.uk Black Information The key lesson that Thrive St Mary’s Garden Project has learned from this Link project is that there is no quick fix to improving the cultural and ethnic mix, www.blink.org.uk it is a journey – a process which needs to be embedded in everything we do and reviewed as regularly as every other aspect of our work. BTCV Conclusions www.btcv.org.uk Facing the challenges – at organisational level Commission for · Staff turnover – dissemination of the ethos within the organisation Racial Equality · Lack of funding www.cre.gov.uk Facing the challenges – at community level Council of Ethnic · Lack of understanding – breaking down barriers Minority Voluntary · Lack of trust – clear communication Organisations · Unsuitability of certain tasks – flexibility and innovations www.emf- cemvo.co.uk Diversity is important · Good for society in terms of social inclusion – people don’t integrate The Inter Faith because they are excluded. Network for the UK · Good for organisations in terms of skills and experience www.interfaith. · Good as an instrument to apply for funding for social inclusion (high on org.uk the agenda). · Good for the individual. Know your audience · Who are the communities? Use local research, plans, census information, community profiles etc. What are their cultural/lifestyle/faith/socio-economic traits? Are there any demographic trends? Who is working with them at present? What activities/initiatives are already taking place? · Be clear about why you are targeting these groups, what are your expectations? Are they realistic? Clarity of intentions is paramount; do you have any prejudices/misconceptions about the groups.
  4. 4. Good Practice Tips · Recognise the relationship of people to the environment e.g. multicultural gardens – the relationship of people and plants from the same origins. · Understand the concerns of BME individuals and groups · Create opportunities for participation by ethnic communities as an integral part of your work programme · Recognise the importance of outreach to ethnic communities and act on it. · Ensure staff are trained so that they can work more effectively with ethnic communities · Ensure effective access to information, resources and opportunities · Not sure about somebody’s culture/faith/etiquette? – then ask! · Be clear and be aware of your own identity as a tool in your work. · Clothing and footwear can be an issue – find ways of overcoming this. · Outreach – voluntary sector groups, individuals and places of worship/community centres, schools, colleges, universities, shops/businesses, local radio, festivals etc. Next steps · Continue the work, spread the message across staff · Share the lesson and commitment to the work in encouraging diversity in projects · When designing the process consider the following: the size of the community, different languages, the demographic and socio-economic status, length of residence, urban/rural location, community organisation and infrastructure. Thrive gratefully acknowledges the A range of resources from the following publishers is available in help of: the Thrive Library, Reading. Please contact the Information Service Asian Women’s Group on 0118 988 5688 for a publication list. Avan Wadia Harbour Project Directory of Social Change Sikh Gurdwara Home Office Swindon Borough Institute for Public Policy Research Council Inter Faith Network for the UK Mentality NCVO Publications This Briefing Sheet is NIACE supported by The Henry Policy Studies Institute Smith Charity Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health