All services

Equality and diversity

Read Thames Reach’s equal opportunities and diversity policy.

The following definitions apply to terms in this policy:

“Organisation” means Thames Reach.
“Staff” means staff member, volunteer, student or any other person working for Thames Reach.
“Service user” means someone who is a past, present or potential user of any of the services offered by Thames Reach.

Policy statement

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy

Thames Reach is committed to promoting equality of opportunity for staff, service users and others associated with the organisation. Through our work with homeless and vulnerable people, Thames Reach is often at the forefront of identifying and tackling social exclusion. We are committed to advocating for and speaking out on behalf of those people or groups who are experiencing disadvantage or discrimination both ‘on the ground’ when providing support to individuals, and on a local and national level to influence policy and decision makers.

This policy identifies the organisation’s overall policy aims in relation to promoting equal opportunities, valuing and celebrating diversity, and inclusion, combating discrimination and ensuring that services are as accessible as possible. Its principles underpin a wide range of operational policies and procedures.

Thames Reach is committed to:

– Equality of opportunity. This means that in the provision of services, the selection of suppliers and contractors, and the employment of staff to provide these services, the organisation aims to ensure that no-one is unfairly discriminated against due to race, sex, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, social standing, history of homelessness, religious beliefs, refugee status, ethnic or national origin, marital status, type of contract, pattern of work or because of responsibility for dependents.

– Taking practical steps to identify inequality and discrimination, and address it by developing best practice.

– Complying with relevant legislation and learning from practice outside the organisation.

We believe that:

The services we provide will be enhanced by the diversity of staff, and recognise that we need to work as an organisation and as individuals within the organisation to promote and celebrate this diversity and harness its potential to improve the services we provide.

Taking positive action to meet the needs of specific groups facing discrimination can make a practical contribution to addressing discrimination.

This policy applies to all people who are accessing or are suitable for Thames Reach services, and anyone who undertakes work on behalf of Thames Reach including staff, workers, contractors, volunteers and Board Members.

Legal Context

Thames Reach’s policy operates within and fully complies with equality legislation that provides protection to people to ensure that they are not discriminated against in relation to employment, provision of services and access to accommodation.  Areas where discrimination is legislated against include age, sex, gender, gender identity, disability, ethnicity and race, religion and belief, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity.

Relevant legislation and further details on the legal context that Thames Reach operates within can be found in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Procedure.

Additionally the organisation will ensure that it strives for best practice to ensure that no group or individual is discriminated against.

What Thames Reach will do – Core principles

Thames Reach will seek to promote equality, value diversity and ensure accessibility by:

– Actively addressing discrimination and harassment. Thames Reach will ensure that everyone directly associated with our organisation – staff, workers, volunteers, service users, contractors, visitors – are aware of our commitment in these areas and how this policy affects them.

– Developing internal working arrangements and structures that will assist in the promotion of anti-discriminatory practices.

– Ensuring that local projects establish and maintain suitable systems to ensure that we can effectively monitor and evaluate compliance and progress in relation to promoting equality of opportunity and to report to the EDI group on performance in this area.

– Prioritising and supporting the work of the organisational EDI group to develop best practise and the systems and structures which underpin the aims of this policy.

– Ensuring that the accessibility of buildings, services and information is routinely reviewed and improved where possible, and that partner agencies (e.g. Housing Associations), are held accountable for their responsibilities in this area.

– Ensuring that homeless and vulnerable people who may routinely face difficulties accessing services are getting the help they need (e.g., those with complex needs, those whose behaviour is very challenging) are not unnecessarily prevented from being supported by the organisation.

– As a voluntary organisation, Thames Reach is not legally required to conduct Impact Assessments. However, as good practise, where the organisation is making significant changes to a service, strategy or working practice, we conduct Equality Impact assessments to ensure that we have assessed and managed the possible impact on homeless or vulnerable people, minority or socially excluded groups, staff and volunteers, and that we have not inadvertently created barriers or excluded people.

– Thames Reach will respond to breaches of this policy fairly and sensitively. (Please see policies on Disciplinary, Anti-Bullying and Code of Conduct for more detail on disciplinary action) The organisation recognises that working with a challenging service user group means that staff and other service users may face abusive behaviour. Where laws against discrimination appear to be broken, staff are expected to report this to the police, and to advocate for appropriate legal remedy, providing necessary information and statements to support this.  Where an individual does not wish to press charges we will ensure that third party reports are made.  If this is possible we will continue to work with service users to address the behaviour, reduce the risk of it occurring and support staff while minimising the extent to which this behaviour further excludes service users.

Service Users

Thames Reach is committed to ensuring equality of access and support for people who are in need of our services.

We will ensure that there is clear, accessible information about its services made available to those who may need it in suitable formats and places, such as service announcements translated into different languages and made available in a range of different community centres.  We will make translation services available where these are necessary.

Service users or potential service users will always be treated with the utmost respect and fairness when coming into contact with Thames Reach services. If the service is not suitable for the individual the reasons will be explained clearly and the person will be given advice and guidance on their rights and where they can obtain the help they need.

Service users will receive support from Thames Reach that is:

– Non-judgemental and non-discriminatory

– Always delivered to the same high standard based up on their individual needs and aspirations

– Considerate and sensitive to each person’s background, beliefs and experiences

– Agreed upon and planned with service users so that they will be fully involved in the support they receive.

Thames Reach will ensure that where service users have experienced discrimination or exclusion they will receive support to challenge this and that Thames Reach staff will keep them informed of their rights and advocate on their behalf where necessary.

Thames Reach will investigate and treat any allegation of discrimination that occurs within Thames Reach services or on the part of Thames Reach services or staff with the utmost seriousness.

Thames Reach and local teams will ensure that they record enough information about their service users to properly analyse the make-up of the user group in terms of gender, age, sex, race, ethnic origin, sexuality, disability and special needs so that services can be targeted toward those who need them most and barriers to access can be removed.

Training and Support for Staff

Thames Reach will seek to develop and maintain a workforce that reflects the wider community within which we operate. (Please see recruitment policy for further details.)

The organisation will take positive and practical steps to remove any barriers to the participation of people who are currently under-represented as staff, service users, board members or contractors.

Thames Reach will ensure that staff, workers, volunteers and Board Members have equal access to relevant training and opportunities for development and that terms, conditions and that employment practices do not discriminate against any group.

Thames Reach will ensure that staff receive the appropriate support, training and advice to assist them to deal sensitively with:

– challenging discriminatory behaviour or practices

– providing support to those experiencing discrimination

If staff encounter harassment or discrimination either from service users, Thames Reach employees or other individuals while carrying out the work of Thames Reach, we will ensure that they are given support, that their rights are protected and that adequate steps are taken in order to tackle the behaviour and we will report behaviour that is a criminal offence and advocate for legal action.

Recording and Monitoring

Thames Reach will systematically collect, monitor and evaluate information about the characteristics and composition of its service users, staff, Board and job applicants to assist in the assessment of the implementation and effectiveness of this policy. This information will be provided in summary form to the SMT and the Board each year though appropriate sub-committees.

The central EDI group convenors will report directly to SMT on the EDI work plan and progress.

Individual teams will carry out an annual Equality Diversity and Inclusion audit of their service user group and its relationship with the potential user group, identifying possible discrepancies and the reasons for these, and any responsive actions will form part of the team’s work plan.

Equality diversity and inclusion practice and development is a ‘golden thread’ running through Thames Reach’s internal quality framework. Each team is audited annually as part of this process and results of these are reported to SMT and the Board annually. Adherence to this policy, organisational themes or training needs, good practice and projects receiving ‘Red’ grades in their internal audit are specifically highlighted as part of this reporting.

Information and Confidentiality

Thames Reach will share information with other agencies regarding service users where it is necessary to reduce risk, safeguard the wellbeing of the individual or others as part of a criminal investigation or hearing.

Thames Reach will collate and monitor statistical information about both employees and service users to allow consideration of the profile of the workforce and  service users in terms of age, sex, gender, ethnic and racial origin, disability, sexuality and religious beliefs. This will be undertaken for the purposes of ensuring that marginalised groups are represented, that need is being identified and met and the workforce properly reflects the make-up of the wider community within which we operate.