Calls for people in care system to be recognised as protected characteristic in Sheffield
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Councillors Dawn Dale and Jayne Dunn put forward a motion to full council next week calling on Sheffield Council to recognise people who have experienced the care system as a protected characteristic.
They said: “Despite the resilience of care experienced people, society too often does not take their needs into account.
“Care experienced people often face discrimination and stigma across housing, health, education, relationships, employment and in the criminal justice system.”
The motion asks the strategy and resources committee to introduce a requirement within the Equalities Framework to recognise people in care as vulnerable to discrimination when making policy decisions.
This would mean future services would need to consider care experience through Equality Impact Assessments.
National campaign to recognise people in care as a protected characteristic
Nine characteristics are currently protected under the Equality Act 2010 which cover age, disability, gender, marriage, pregnancy, race, religion and sexual orientation.
Terry Galloway, from Manchester, started the campaign to include care experience after he suffered horrific abuse and was moved dozens of times as a child in and out of the care system with his sister. He was determined to change things following his sister’s murder.
Now more than 60 councils across the country have recognised care experience as a protected characteristic.
Mr Galloway said care experienced people were 70 per cent more likely to die prematurely than others and live 20 years less.
He said: “I’m delighted Sheffield Council is talking about care experience becoming a protected characteristic, however we need them to actually do it.
"I do believe there is good intention, and in time it may well happen in Sheffield, but the motion before the council asks a committee to consider doing that in the future. The council can decide to do it if it wanted on Wednesday, not send it to a committee.
"We can’t really afford to wait. If Sheffield want to do this and join the other 63 councils, then they should do it next Wednesday. They could change the wording so that all councillors of all parties get to take part in the decision and allow care experienced people to come and speak - I for one would be there”
Labour’s motion to take local action is scheduled to be discussed and decided upon on Wednesday, November 1.