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Annual Report 1999 - 2000

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Ethnic Environmental Participation in Scotland and Wales

The Ethnic Environmental Participation Development Projects are now in their second year in Scotland and Wales. The work in Scotland concentrates on Edinburgh and Glasgow. The work in Wales focuses on Cardiff, Swansea and Newport.

The main tasks for the projects are:

  • To reach out to more new groups in ethnic communities in order to stimulate awareness in sustainable development.
  • To support the further development of sustainable development projects undertaken by ethnic groups now engaged in environmental participation. This includes project formulation which integrate the cultural and social concerns of ethnic groups with environmental concerns, and accessing funds and expertise.
  • To provide an information and advice service on sustainable development to ethnic groups.
  • To continue to build up the interface between ethnic groups and the environmental sector, thereby putting into place active local networks facilitating ethnic environmental participation
  • To engage ethnic groups in the evaluation of the work done and to consult them in order to jointly forge directions for further development
  • To document and share innovative approaches, research and good practice developed by the projects

In Wales, 100% of the ethnic groups contacted said that no environmental organisation had reached out to them before this BEN project.

The work in Scotland and Wales included:

  • Intensive outreach work into ethnic communities to build initial relationships and mutual understanding.
  • Identifying the initial needs and areas of interest specific to particular ethnic groups and developing opportunities for engaging with the themes of sustainable development.
  • Enabling access to contact with nature, especially the countryside, by inner city ethnic groups, thereby impacting on their quality of life.
  • Working creatively with ethnic groups to enable them to put together environmental projects which also address their social and cultural needs and concerns.
  • Assessing the needs of ethnic groups in relation to capacity building.
  • Research into the feasibility of job shadowing as a step in the process of enabling ethnic persons to enter employment in the environmental sector.
  • Developing and organising training events for environmental organisations to enable them to gain skills in working with ethnic groups.
  • Consultation of ethnic groups to evaluate progress and identify emerging needs and concerns.

Initiatives undertaken within the project in Wales include:

  • Art Project for the Millennium - a community arts project using mosaic to illustrate positive roles for women in the 21st C. It aims to reflect the growing no of women from ethnic communities training in IT and explore the changing environment of Cardiff Bay.
  • A Multi-cultural Garden in Singleton Park, Swansea.
  • An innovative video art project introducing young people to local landscape and environmental awareness through following the course of a river and relating their experience of wildlife around the theme of 'home' for animals and 'home' for people.
  • Identifying needs and linking ethnic groups into opportunities to gain knowledge and skills in relation to capacity building
  • Organising a range of activities and events to facilitate contact with aspects of environmental participation including access to the countryside, recycling, arts workshops, visits to Botanic gardens - all of which aim to provide enjoyment and introducing various environmental themes.
  • Gateway Project - working in partnership with the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust and facilitating 400 free places for ethnic groups to visit a range of historic gardens for the first time.
  • Awareness raising and creating new opportunities for ethnic participation through direct contact with environmental and other agencies working in sustainable development
  • Ongoing dialogue with ethnic communities in relation to their needs, concerns and wishes in relation to the environment.

Initiatives undertaken within the project in Scotland include:

  • Working with a women's mental health group in partnership with Maryhill Community Health Project and Striking A Chord run by SEAD. It aims to meet people's social and support needs in conjunction with the use of the environment. It provides structured activities for the group, enabling it to explore links between the local environment and aspects of health . It has a national and international dimension in sharing experience.
  • Working in partnership with the Scottish Refugee Council, BEN is running an Environmental Taster Programme for refugees and asylum seekers. The programme takes them out of isolation, creates a social scene, and provides enjoyment as well as volunteering and training opportunities which provide work experience in this country. The latter keys into the fact that later on when asylum seekers gain permission to stay, often they have no work experience to refer to to assist in getting jobs.
  • The Ethnic Minority User Group of the Dixon Community is an example of the capacity many ethnic groups gain through being taken through the process of accessing environmental information and activities, formulating projects and fundraising for environmental projects. Their skills have enabled them to access other funds to improve the day care environment and services for their members. This has included buying orthopaedic chairs for frail clients and an industrial dishwasher.
  • Access to the countryside continues to be an important theme, demonstrating that many ethnic groups strongly wish to be in contact with and enjoy nature at large. It focuses on the fact of lack of access of information and lack of awareness of available support within the environmental sector. Similarly it highlights the lack of awareness and lack of resources directed to contacting and working with ethnic groups in relation to the environmental sector.
  • Building up the connection between the environmental sector and ethnic groups is a key task.

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