Liberate

Senatorial manifesto review

Having taken a look at the manifestos (as published on vote.je) of the candidates for Senator in Jersey’s election, there were a few pledges that caught our attention as aligning with Liberate’s vision.

You can find out more about all the candidates and read their manifestos here.

Simon Bree: “The fact that we have a high degree of unseen poverty with its direct impact on children, and the increased use of food banks, is something that shames all of us. We have seen the economic divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” steadily increasing. I believe that we need to undertake a complete review of our personal income tax system, social security contributions, and current and potential user pays charges. It is wrong that the financial burden is being increasingly borne by middle and lower income families.”

Ian Gorst: “Improve the lives of Islanders by:… Lifting standards of living and promoting family friendly legislation to support working families…  Supporting vulnerable children and adults, the elderly and people with mental ill-health…  Eliminating discrimination in all its forms…  Giving legal recognition to carers…”

Anthony Lewis: “My commitment to you: Equality:

  • I will be a Champion in the States for equality in our society.
  • I want everyone, disabled and able bodied, treated the same. I feel a stigma. I want to remove the barriers in society. We need more support.
  • I want to see a Minister for Equality in the States.
  • I want to move mental health higher up the political agenda. More understanding and reduced stigma. One in four people have a mental health issue.”

Sam Mezec: “The work I am most proud of has been:

  • Championing Equal Marriage
  • Fast-tracking the timetable for raising the Minimum Wage”

Kristina Moore: “In placing our island community at the heart of my manifesto, I will work towards tackling some challenging issues, such as:

  • Reducing poverty in Jersey…
  • Championing the needs of our elders
  • Greater funding for Family Court & Mental Health provision…
  • Embracing diversity & cultural inclusion”

Moz Scott: “Improving co-ordination between the public, private and voluntary sectors to:

  • help those in need
  • reduce isolation amongst the elderly and improve all Islanders’ well-being
  • improve educational standards through early years education and parental support.”

Gordon George Troy: “I am passionate about helping the senior citizens in our society. The Jersey Pensioner has for a long time been politically overlooked, the pension scheme is meant to help people achieve and maintain financial independence. In my opinion it falls well short of this. One of my main political aims if elected will be to assist pensioners to get better Pension Benefits, better Health Care and better Housing designed to meet their needs.”

Be reasonable!

This week, the States of Jersey has, finally, voted to add disability to its list of characteristics protected under the Discrimination Law. The law will be in force on 1 September 2018. This is a long overdue and important piece of legislation that will protect some of the island’s most vulnerable residents and visitors.

The Jersey Disability Survey published in 2016 found that there are about 14,000 disabled people in Jersey, if you use the UK Equality Act definition of disability. This rises to about 33,000 if you use the social model of disability, which Jersey’s law does. According to the results, people most likely to be disabled in Jersey are:

  • older (especially 75 and over): For example, 13% of respondents aged 16-34 are disabled compared to 51% of respondents aged 85 and over;
  • on low incomes (especially below £25,000): For example, 35% of respondents on low income (household income under £15,000 per annum) have a disability compared with 9% of respondents with a household income of £75,000 or more per annum;
  • living in social housing: For example, 35% of respondents living in social housing have a disability compared with 16% of respondents that own or privately rent or 12% of respondents that live in non-qualified accommodation;
  • not in employment (or not actively engaged in education or as a homemaker): For example, 70% of unemployed respondents or those unable to work have a disability compared with 11% of employed/engaged respondents or 30% of retired respondents;
  • living alone: For example, 26% of respondents that live on their own have a disability compared with 15% of other respondents.

Instead of heralding the disability discrimination legislation as an important step forward in equality for disabled islanders that might enable them to get an interview for a job at the very least, the headline in the Jersey Evening Post today is: “Improving disabled access ‘could bankrupt small firms’”. This is sensationalist reporting that takes no account of what is actually written in the new law.

Under the new disability part of the Discrimination Law, businesses are going to be required to make reasonable adjustments to their provisions, criterions or practices (‘PCPs’) and/or their physical premises to remove a substantial disadvantage for a disabled employee or customer. The key word in all this is ‘reasonable’. Responding to the comments in the JEP, it is not reasonable to ask a small business to put in a lift in an old building that they tenant, and this is covered by the part of the law that says:

“In determining whether the person has taken reasonable steps to avoid the substantial disadvantage, matters to be taken into account may include –

(a) the extent to which –

(i) the likelihood of the substantial disadvantage was reasonably foreseeable, and
(ii) any steps which are, or would be if taken, proportionate to such degree of likelihood;

(b) the extent to which any steps are, or would be if taken, effective to prevent or remove the substantial disadvantage;
(c) the extent to which any steps are, or would be if taken, practical;
(d) the cost of any steps that have or might be taken;
(e) the extent of the financial, administrative and any other resources available to the person, including any provided by a third party, for the purpose of taking any steps; and
(f) characteristics of the person such as the nature of the person’s business, if any, and size.”

Reasonable adjustments can generally be made at little or no cost to the employer. Many adjustments will cost absolutely nothing to implement, such as allowing for flexible working, changes to the dress code or allowing someone to sit instead of stand (or vice versa). According to The Disability Rights Commission in the UK, the average cost of adjustments is just £75.

So, before we put up “closing down sale” notices in all the St Helier shop windows, please consider what the law is actually asking businesses to do.

Take an example: You own a small boutique in town in an old building with a narrow front entrance. Your margins are small, rent is high and you struggle to make any profit after paying yourself and your one member of staff. You do not have the resources to widen your doorway and put in a ramp for wheelchair users.

One day, you see a wheelchair user looking at your window display. They see something they like, wheel to your front door and attempt to come in, but cannot do so. What would be a reasonable course of action in this case? Make a big show of calling your architect and builder to widen the doorway? Of course not.

The reasonable action is for either you or your member of staff to approach the wheelchair user, ask them what item they were interested in and take the item to them to look at. This is simply good customer service. You are considering the particular needs of that customer and responding to them. You could go further and offer to deliver a selection of similar items to the disabled person’s home so they could try them on and choose one. The result of this personal service is that you are likely to get repeat business and great references.

And how much did that reasonable adjustment cost you? Nothing – just a little bit of time and effort.

The following day, a person with autism walks into your shop, purchases an item and walks out again. Remember: not all disabilities are visible or require lifts, ramps, hoists etc! The majority of disabilities that you will encounter in your workplace will not be because a person is using a wheelchair.

Reasonable adjustments require us to all think about how we can resolve the barrier being put in front of the disabled person. We may need to ask the disabled person to help us adjust, we may need to be creative, we may need to ask an expert, but it is not difficult to adjust if we empathise with the disabled person and ask ourselves what would I like someone to do for me in the same situation?

So, let’s celebrate the fact that Jersey has done the right thing by its disabled islanders, and remember that we will all grow old and, one day, we might find ourselves disabled and need someone to make a reasonable adjustment for us.

Standard Bank Wealth International announces DIFERA+ “Pay it Forward”

Standard Bank Wealth International, the Channel Islands first DIFERA accredited bank, announced a new charity initiative at the Channel Islands Equality and Diversity Awards ceremony on Friday 16 March 2018.

Standard Bank Wealth International are offering to ‘pay it forward’ by sponsoring two Jersey charities to join the DIFERA scheme and get their DIFERA accreditation.

Charities are invited to apply using the DIFERA+ application form here. The closing date for entries is 14 April 2018.

The winning charities will be selected by a panel composed of Liberate and two representatives from Standard Bank Wealth International. To be announced on 25 May 2018.

Interested charities can find out more about the DIFERA scheme here or by emailing paddy@liberate.je

2018 Liberate Channel Islands Equality and Diversity Awards winners

The 2018 Liberate Channel Islands Equality and Diversity Awards winners represent a cross-section of Channel Islands organisations and the variety of work being carried in this field.

Vic Tanner Davy, CEO Liberate, said: “The winners are organisations of different sizes, working in different industries, supporting different minorities and in different Bailiwicks. Appropriately, our winners are as diverse as the groups they are helping.”

The awards are hosted by Liberate, but judged by an independent diversity panel.

The 2018 award winners were:

Best Small to Medium Employer (up to 80 employees) (as nominated by their employee(s)) – BCR Law – the first DIFERA accredited law firm in the Channel Islands, the judging panel were impressed by their early adoption of DIFERA and their involvement with the ‘Every Child Our Future’ scheme;

Best Medium to Large Employer (more than 80 employees) (as nominated by their employee(s)) – Deloitte – the judging panel were moved by the personal stories of two employees who had been supported by Deloitte’s inclusion initiatives for Muslim employees and women;

Best Service Provider (as nominated by themselves or the general public) – The Channel Islands Co-Operative Society – the CI Co-Op’s autism hour is not related to the core business of the CI Co-Op, but is a genuine attempt to include an excluded minority in a day-to-day activity. As such, the judging panel felt that it was exactly the sort of initiative that the awards were set up to encourage;

Best Educational Initiative (as nominated by themselves or the general public) – Guernsey College of Further Education – the depth and variety of educational activities undertaken by the college to promote inclusion across the campus impressed the judging panel (award being collected by Hugo Forrester of Liberate Guernsey);

Best Not-for-Profit Support Initiative (as nominated by themselves or the general public) – Helping Wings Jersey – the time and effort taken by this small charity to get the permission necessary to install a hand control in their aircraft so people with lower limb disability can experience flying made the judges’ decision in this category.

Vic Tanner Davy said: “Again, the judging panel had a difficult task and almost all the categories came down to a split decision. The quality of work being undertaken across the islands is outstanding and Liberate are pleased to provide the platform on which to celebrate it.”

Two awards that are in the gift of Liberate were presented, too. The Liberate Special Award was given to the States of Guernsey, Alderney and Jersey in recognition of their work in introducing same-sex marriage legislation to the Channel Islands. The Liberate Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Margaret McDonaugh MBE in recognition of her service to youth theatre projects in Guernsey (award being collected by  Deputy Emilie Yerby of States of Guernsey).

For many years, Margaret taught drama in Guernsey Schools. She started the Guernsey Youth Theatre in about 1977 – as a by-word for inclusion. She continues to gather in youngsters of all abilities to her workshops, productions, summer schools and theatre trips – all to promote, foster and facilitate drama and theatre for young people and the wider community. Margaret was made an MBE in 2006 for services to youth theatre.

The awards ceremony will be held in Guernsey in 2019.

To find out more about the awards, please visit www.liberate.je/awards

CI Equality and Diversity Awards nominations are now closed for 2018

Nominations for the 2018 Liberate Channel Islands Equality and Diversity Awards have now closed and Liberate report having had a terrific response from the public for nominees.

Vic Tanner Davy, CEO Liberate, said: “The nominees are from across the islands, across business sectors and across different sizes of organisation. We have had nominations from organisations that are working on different inclusion strands including women, religious minorities, children with special educational needs, older members of the community, those with mental ill health, physical disabilities, long-term illness and learning disabilities, LGBT+ people, young carers and BAME youth.”

The awards, that are open to nominees in both Bailiwicks, were first held as part of Pride week in 2016. This year the awards ceremony will be held on Friday 16 March. The publicly nominated awards that will be presented at the ceremony are:

  • Best Small to Medium Employer (up to 80 employees) (as nominated by their employee(s));
  • Best Medium to Large Employer (more than 80 employees) (as nominated by their employee(s));
  • Best Service Provider (as nominated by themselves or the general public);
  • Best Educational Initiative (as nominated by themselves or the general public);
  • Best Not-for-Profit Support Initiative (as nominated by themselves or the general public).

The awards will be judged by an independent diversity panel.

Vic Tanner Davy said: “I do not envy our judges; the standard of the nominations and quality of work being carried out in this area across the islands is extremely high. As far as Liberate is concerned, every nominee is a winner for the game-changing initiatives they are putting in place to make our islands inclusive and accepting places to live and work. The awards were set up precisely to spotlight these programmes and honour the people doing such important work, often under the radar.”

The awards ceremony will be held in Jersey in 2018 and in Guernsey in 2019.

The 2018 Liberate Channel Islands Equality and Diversity Awards nominees are:

Best Small to Medium Employer (up to 80 employees) (as nominated by their employee(s))

BCR Law (in Jersey)

Best Medium to Large Employer (more than 80 employees) (as nominated by their employee(s))

Citi (in Jersey)

Deloitte (in Channel Islands)

Standard Bank (in Jersey)

Best Service Provider (as nominated by themselves or the general public)

The Channel Islands Co-Operative Society

Jersey Youth Service

Best Educational Initiative (as nominated by themselves or the general public)

Deloitte (in Channel Islands)

Guernsey College of Further Education

Youth Commission (in Guernsey and Alderney)

Jersey Youth Service

Lloyds Community Bank (in Channel Islands)

Best Not-for-Profit Support Initiative (as nominated by themselves or the general public)

Guernsey Community Foundation

Helping Wings (in Jersey)

Jersey Child Care Trust

Les Amis (in Jersey)

Lloyds Community Bank (in Channel Islands)

To find out more about the awards, please visit www.liberate.je/awards

Standard Bank – the first bank in the Channel Islands to be awarded the DIFERA accreditation

Standard Bank Wealth International and the charity Liberate are pleased to announce that Standard Bank is the first bank in the Channel Islands to be awarded the DIFERA employer accreditation, demonstrating their credentials as a diverse, inclusive, fair, equal, respectful and accepting place to work.

Liberate conducted an audit of Standard Bank’s policies and procedures and surveyed Standard Bank’s employees in Jersey and the Isle of Man to find out how diverse the workforce is, what it is like to work for Standard Bank, how employees feel about DIFERA and how fairly development opportunities including promotion, remuneration and training are distributed across the workforce. From these results, Liberate produced a comprehensive report that will act as the benchmark from which to measure Standard Bank’s journey on the DIFERA scheme.

Vic Tanner Davy, CEO of Liberate, said: “Standard Bank’s results were very encouraging and showed a culture of respect and acceptance within the bank. The bank’s policies and procedures were particularly comprehensive and well-written with, for example, a maternity policy that is more generous for pregnant employees than statute. This type of provision supports women in particular within the workplace, helps retain that talent through pregnancy and afterwards, and attracts more women to work for Standard Bank, widening their choice of candidates.”

Having produced the report Liberate presented it to the Executive Team at Standard Bank in a meeting that discussed a wide range of initiatives including ways to recruit more disabled people to work for the bank and ways to increase the number of women at senior levels.

Tina Monro, Head of Human Capital for Standard Bank Wealth International, said: “We committed to this review process with the hope of gaining insights into our culture and what our people were thinking and feeling about the bank as an inclusive workplace, but came out of it with a very detailed analysis across a range of inputs and a clear action plan for improvements. Liberate’s work was thorough, diligent and very professional”.

Will Thorp, CEO for Standard Bank Wealth International, said: “We are delighted to have been able to have this resource available to us, particularly through a charity. This work has been invaluable to us and we are looking forward to continuing with this partnership as we focus on our organisational culture.”

We’re Getting Married!

The States of Jersey today approved the amendments to Jersey’s marriage legislation that will allow same sex couples and couples where one or both partners are transgender to marry.

Liberate was formed to respond to the calls for same sex marriage across the Channel Islands. Guernsey achieved equal marriage last year and, finally, after three and a half years of working on this issue and a bit later than planned, it happened in Jersey today! The States of Jersey voted 43:1 in favour of legalising same sex marriage. The law now has to go to Privy Council for Royal Assent, which could take about three months, so we expect to see same sex couples walking down the aisle in Jersey by early May 2018.

We are delighted that marriage is now opened up to same sex couples and that open air weddings are now possible. As Liberate’s petition showed, which reached Russia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Romania, the USA and all points in between, the world has been watching this debate and it is fantastic that we can now welcome the world to our island to get married on its beautiful beaches and coastal areas.

Thank you to everyone who engaged in the political process and signed the petition, wrote an email, explained to people why this was needed by the LGBT+ community – it all helped demonstrate why it was so important that this legislation was passed and passed with no exemptions.

We live in a democracy and the fact that we are all free to speak is something to be cherished. The debate has been impressive in terms of the number and variety of people it has engaged and in the respect shown by all sides. What this proves is that our island is home to diverse groups and communities, who will not always agree on every issue, but that is what makes us stronger. It is vital that we can share our views and continue to do so, especially with people we don’t agree with, so that we can learn from each other.

Liberate does not want to see anybody taken to tribunal for their genuinely held religious beliefs. Our concern when the Scrutiny Panel lodged the amendment containing the tolerance clause was that it was unworkable in practice and would be highly divisive, resulting in more not fewer tribunal cases. We would much prefer to see an island where differing beliefs are accepted and respected – if we are kind to one another, nobody should ever end up in a tribunal.

We would like to thank everyone who worked within and outside of the States of Jersey to make equal marriage happen. In particular, Deputy Sam Mezec and Reform Jersey who started this journey in 2014. We also wish to thank the Chief Minister Ian Gorst and his team for their determination that this was the right thing to do for the island and their unwaivering support throughout the process, even when things didn’t go to plan.

Finally, there were many speeches within the States Chamber today that expressed the need for the island to heal the divisions caused by such an impassioned debate. We hope that this will happen and that everyone will make the effort to reach out to those who disagreed with them on this issue.

There is still work to do to tidy up a few amendments to the law as passed today and around surrogacy, civil partnership and divorce laws, but these are issues for another day. Today, on the first day of LGBT+ history month, Jersey made a bit of LGBT+ history.

You can find out more about what the new law means for you here…

Open letter to States of Jersey members ahead of the marriage debate

Liberate sent the following email to all States members this morning ahead of tomorrow’s debate:

We are writing to all States members to ask for your support in the passage of the Draft Marriage and Civil Status (Amendment No. 4) (Jersey) Law that is due to be debated in this week’s States sitting. Please vote against (P91/2017 Amd(2)) the amendment lodged by the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel on 16 January 2018.

Liberate opposes the introduction of the ‘tolerance clause’ that would allow an individual business owner with a religious conviction to discriminate legally against another individual in Jersey society in the provision of goods and services for a same-sex wedding. This position has public support. The petition (https://www.change.org/p/members-of-the-states-of-jersey-no-tolerance-clause-for-same-sex-marriage-law) launched 10 days ago by Liberate asking States members not to include a tolerance clause in the marriage legislation has now had nearly 5,000 signatories.

Whenever Liberate has been asked for input to this process, we have endeavoured to keep the debate respectful of all views and strongly support the fact that, under the new law, religious officials working within religious organisations that do not, for whatever reason, provide for same sex marriages will continue to be able to work within their governing body’s rules and regulations without breaching discrimination legislation in the island.

However, we believe that enshrining in law a ‘tolerance clause’ that sanctions the ability for individual to discriminate against individual is divisive and can only result in unhappiness for all concerned – the same sex couple who are refused a service and the business owner who discriminates and then has their religious conviction tested at a tribunal hearing.

The Jersey Evangelical Alliance have stated in their open letter to States members that: “If the law is passed without the current amendments it would mean that people of religious conviction would likely face intolerance and discrimination if they do not … provide goods and services that would endorse a same-sex marriage.” This is a misunderstanding of what it means to be discriminated against within law.

Being prevented from acting on deeply held beliefs by the law of the land is not discrimination. For example, a person might hold a deep belief about the amount of tax the richest 10% of the population should pay. This is not an extreme belief. Many people think that the rich do not pay enough tax, and believe that passionately and sincerely. However, should business owners with that belief be permitted by law to charge rich people, or people they perceive as rich, two times GST on a purchase? No, of course not, and the law stops business owners with a ‘Robin Hood’ belief from acting in that way. Because the law stops all business owners from acting in that way it does not discriminate between business owners with this belief and business owners without this belief. All business owners are expected to act in accordance with the law around charging GST.

Jersey has had discrimination legislation since September 2014. The introduction of any kind of tolerance clause for an individually held belief, be it religious, philosophical or political, starts a process of eroding the protections our island started to put in place less than 4 years ago, and would run counter to international opinion on the importance of not enshrining within anti-discrimination legislation these kind of exemptions.

We are asking States members to, therefore, reject ‘the tolerance clause’ by voting against (P91/2017 Amd(2)) the amendment lodged by the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel on 16 January 2018.

Jersey wedding suppliers say ‘no’ to the tolerance clause

Jersey wedding suppliers have signed an open letter to States of Jersey members stating their opposition to a tolerance clause within the Marriage Law.

The letter reads:

We the undersigned, as suppliers of goods and services for weddings, are opposed to the States of Jersey enacting any form of ‘tolerance clause’ that permits a business owner of religious conviction from discriminating in the provision of their goods and services against a same sex couple who wish to marry.

We consider that a ‘tolerance clause’ is unnecessary and would be bad for the wedding industry as a whole in the island with same sex couples, their friends and families seeking alternatives to traditional wedding services in order to avoid the experience of being discriminated against.

We are also concerned that such a clause would have a negative impact on the island’s international reputation as a friendly place to get married.

As a business, we are looking forward to serving gay, lesbian and transgender people as clients and welcome the new opportunities that are opened up by introducing same sex marriage in the island.

We ask States members to say ‘no’ to a tolerance clause at the States sitting on 30 January 2018.

Signed by:

www.ternevents.com

www.ceremonieswithlynsey.com

www.maisiemoodesigns.co.uk

www.itsasignjersey.co.uk

www.facebook.com/sweetfavoursjersey/

www.patacakesjersey.com

www.balloonmagic.net

www.panachehire.co

www.facebook.com/doves.je/

www.marqueesolutions.je

www.lucyhodgescoaching.com

www.thebridalboutiqueltd.com

www.ceriscakes.com

www.nataliemayer.com

vibertmarquees.com

www.markhoweflowers.com

Senior Church leaders from the Anglican and Methodist Churches call for Jersey to reject the tolerance clause

Jayne Ozanne, a member of the Church of England’s General Synod, and Reverend Graeme Halls, Superintendent of the Methodist Circuit in Jersey, have written open letters this weekend urging States of Jersey members to reject the so called ‘tolerance clause’ from marriage legislation that is due to be debated this week.

The Scrutiny Panel’s amendment to the Marriage Law that includes the ‘tolerance clause’ would permit the following to happen in Jersey: where an individual business owner on grounds of religious conviction objects to participating in an Equal Marriage, they may refuse to provide goods and services to the marriage ceremony and/or a social event or function associated with the marriage.

For Jayne Ozanne, an openly gay evangelical Christian, “anything that seeks to divide and separate us, that looks to demonise one group as the ‘other’ can only ever cause pain and suffering, particularly for the most vulnerable in our society.”

For Reverend Halls the line is clear: “This is a debate about how we ensure all of our community has equal rights and responsibilities, and that means that one group does not and cannot have the right to discriminate against another, and certainly not for that to be enshrined in law.”

Reverend Halls’ letter looks back at times when the Church’s view has shifted immeasurably on issues such as slavery and women’s equality, whilst Jayne Ozanne’s letter looks forward to the next generation of Anglicans, who support same-sex marriage overwhelmingly: “Virtually all main-stream denominations are now discussing how best to recognise and bless same sex unions, and many have gone further to enable same-sex couples to marry in church.  Only last summer, the Episcopal Church of Scotland voted to allow same-sex marriage”.

Both leaders remind their readers of the Christian value of love for thy neighbour.

Revered Halls: “Surely we seek a world where all are respected, all are shown equal care, and all this because, whether we have faith or not, we are one humanity, and for those with faith, we believe all are equally loved by God, made in God’s image, one Body, many parts.”

Jayne Ozanne: “My prayer would be that we build a society that knits us closer together, that we enshrine the values that make us thrive and that we seek to embrace the diversity and equality of all.  To do otherwise would be create a society that is defined by its divisions, which builds walls rather than bridges, and so opens the door to further discrimination against those who are our neighbours.”

Read Jayne Ozanne’s full letter here…

Read Rev Graeme Halls’ full letter here…