from the speech by Angela Smith MP (Minister for Fire) on 24 May
The final subject I want to discuss, where working
in partnership is important, is equality and diversity. But before
I turn to that, I want to sum up what I see as the key characteristics
of partnership. I hope you will give them some thought.
Partnership is about plain speaking - and, equally
important, plain listening. It is about building up trust so both
are possible. To work well, partnerships need excellent communications
so people understand what is happening, how they can be involved
and where the partnership is heading. And it is about making the
most of everyone's talents, knowledge and skills for the benefit
of our communities.
There is no doubt that the Fire and Rescue Service
has made progress in terms of recognising the needs of our diverse
communities on the service delivery side. But so far it has been
less successful in creating a workforce that really reflects the
diversity of those communities in itself.
I cannot see how the service can continue to make
good progress in reducing risks in the communities it services if
it fails to attract, recruit and retain people from the widest possible
pool of talent among our many communities.
I said at the November Conference that equality
and diversity was one of my top priorities. And that I was looking
to the newly formed Equality and Diversity Project Board to provide
leadership, vision and direction in shaping a new strategy. Even
though these annual conferences seem to come around pretty quickly,
I am pleased to say they are making good progress.
The Project Board has been developing the new
strategy which is a key piece of work. It will set out a 10-year
programme for change and make very clear our expectations in this
area. It will include:
Recruitment, retention and progression
Business planning and service delivery
Sharing success and measuring progress.
We hope to be consulting on the draft strategy
later this year. Let me say thank you to the Board for taking up
this vital challenge. I would also like to thank the many people
from across the FRS who have been involved in workshops and focus
groups. This has been a true partnership effort and we have been
listening very carefully to all the points of view about what the
strategy should look like.
Speech by Angela Smith MP on 24 May 2007.
Taken from the speech by Angela Smith MP at the FIRE
2006 conference held in Telford on 8 November 2006.
Equality and diversity in the Fire and Rescue
Service might be the last issue I am talking about but it is right
at the top of my list of priorities. I believe it is very difficult
for the Fire and Rescue Service to go on being effective in its
community work, and even in emergency response work, if the make
up of the workforce does not reflect the community it serves. How
can you understand the community, build up the deep trust needed
and reach the most vulnerable and isolated groups?
Recent research has highlighted some case studies of good practice
and the new Equality and Diversity Project Board has now met - chaired
by Pete Betts our Director for Fire and Resilience, with Phil Toase
representing CFOA and Cllr Les Byrom the LGA. I am looking to the
Board to provide leadership, vision and direction - in particular
through the service-wide equality and diversity strategy they are
developing. Over the next six months this will take shape with wide
stakeholder involvement and we hope it will be ready to go out for
consultation next June.
Recently I heard that one FRS recruited a hundred new firefighters
including just one woman, and I dare not ask about ethnic backgrounds.
Promoting equality and diversity calls for good leadership at every
level and in every aspect of management.
Speech by Angela Smith MP at the FIRE 2006 conference
held in Telford on 8 November 2006. downloaded from http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1504407
I come and talk to you about three exciting elite-briefing
led workshops that are now available to help the fire
and rescue service to understand change?