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There is a need to strategically support provider organisations (those organisations managing sites open to access) to open up access by ethnic communities to their natural environment sites. The organisations we aim to support, train and link to ethnic groups include: Natural England, RSPB, BTCV, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Country Parks, Woodlands Trust, Forestry Commission, National Trust, Council for National Parks, British Waterways, West onbirt Arboretum, Ramblers Association, Youth Hostels Association, etc.

Theoretical knowledge and general principles are known to most organisations, but there is a lack of practical knowledge and experience that are key to working effectively with ethnic groups. There is a real need to develop informed and detailed policy, re aching into different relevant areas of the organisation. At the present time there is still a prevalent misconception that issues relating to access can be dealt with by individual ground staff who interfaces with the public. Understanding and awareness a t board and management levels, attention to customer care, positive images in publications, public relations and above all the notion of the development of real working relationships and partnerships with ethnic community organisations do not feature to th e necessary degree. Without a sufficient level of awareness and understanding at board and senior levels, access does not arrive as a priority on any organisation's agenda, with the result that little action or resources are allocated to develop this area. Management with insufficient knowledge and commitment results in demoralised and unsupported ground staff. And on the ground, unaware or unskilled staff interfacing with the public fail to engage effectively or develop meaningful working relationships wit h ethnic community groups.

As highlighted in the Diversity Review, provider organisations need to be supported to gain specific awareness about working with different target excluded groups including ethnic groups. This cannot be achieved solely intellectually. The portfolio of proj ects aims to support provider organisations within the context of engaging with ethnic communities. Through this process, key areas can be identified to assist them in instigating policy development, organisational cultural change, and relevant action plans.

Particular attention will be given to the involvement and representation of stakeholders.

The learning in action approach will embed practical knowledge and skills into the provider organisations, enabling them to develop toolkits that are specific to the needs and character of their organisations. Mindful of resource implications, particular a ttention will be paid to enable the organisations to cascade the learning, and to consider the use of organisational volunteers in engaging effectively with ethnic groups.

BEN will be setting a standard for sites and community groups participating in the BEN Rainbow Countryside Scheme, and when community groups or sites belonging to provider organisations reach the required standard, they will be recognised with a BEN Rainbow Award at the level achieved.

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