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Does Wales care enough about equality and human rights?

Does Wales care enough about equality and human rights?

| Sue Evans, our Chief Executive

Whose responsibility is it to ensure we are not unfairly discriminating against people with protected characteristics, be it race, gender reassignment, age, disability, sex, marriage and civil partnership, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, or religion or belief?

We, at Social Care Wales, declare ourselves to be anti-racist and we are proud of that. However, recent events have pricked our conscience and required us all to reflect on our own and our organisation’s behaviours and attitudes.

We want to lead by example. We are proud of the diversity of our board, in terms of gender, age, disability, background and lived experiences. Yet every decision-making meeting is a sea of white faces and we are not reflecting the racial diversity of Wales.

Our staff profile is also largely white, with a good mix of males and females of all ages and at all levels. We have a fair number of BAME staff when compared to the Welsh population, but as our head office is based in Cardiff, we could be better reflecting the city’s diversity.

We are committed to improving this and want to encourage BAME residents to think about applying for staff or Board roles when they are promoted on our website.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about what we do and why you should think about working with us, contact me at sue.evans@socialcare.wales.

Interestingly, unlike the NHS, the social care sector is dominated by white women in Wales.

Our recent publication about the domiciliary care workforce highlights that 84 per cent are female, 96.5 per cent are white and 3.5 per cent are from BAME backgrounds. Only 10 per cent are fluent in Welsh, while 26 per cent have some Welsh language ability and 64 per cent have no Welsh language skill at all.

This needs to change if we are serious about providing meaningful care and support. Providing care and support for someone is a very personal activity, and a common bond of trust, culture and language helps provide the highest quality care.

The pandemic has also exposed inequalities, with evidence that the BAME community is at higher risk from the impact of Covid-19. We need to do more to protect colleagues by making use of the tools available and ensuring access to PPE and testing.

The pandemic has shown how crucial the social care workforce is to the well-being of people of all ages in communities across Wales.

Without its critical contribution, the NHS cannot function effectively, as our social care workers help keep people safe, making sure they are only referred to hospital if they really need to be there.

Health inequalities are increasing, too, and the economic impact of Covid-19 will put further strain on families who need care and support.

We are conscious of the economic effects arising from Covid-19 and Wales may be particularly vulnerable because of the range and type of jobs available or at risk.

The Economic Affairs Committee at the House of Lords recently declared that Universal Credit is failing the most vulnerable, with more people using food banks and in rent arrears than since the end of the Second World War.

If the state has just one purpose, it’s to safeguard and protect its citizens from attack and injustice. Those who are most vulnerable need assurance that the state will provide this protection.

The Welsh Government is asking for your views about the future for Wales – make sure you use your voice.

As Martin Luther King Jr put it: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.