THE way Thurrock Council and the borough as a whole is integrating equalities issues into everyday life was highlighted at Wednesday (26 March) evening’s meeting of the council.
But portfolio holder for communities, Cllr Lynn Worrall, who was introducing the statutory Annual Equalities Report, added there “were challenges too”.
She said among the successes were the Adult Social Care peer review which “highlighted that ‘Thurrock has a strong vision in this area, it is ambitious, radical, bold, innovative and with good sign up’”.
She emphasised that three local area co-ordinators “are now working across Thurrock and supporting residents in a ‘light touch’ approach to finding solutions to their personal and family problems or, where necessary, supporting them through formal processes that alone they may find difficult” adding: “It is still early days but there are indications that there is a need for these to be rolled out across Thurrock.”
Other successes included the children’s directorate’s early offer of help programme; the Next Top Boss scheme which has seen 450 young people take part; the rise in the number of young people that take up apprenticeships within the council; and the housing directorate’s range of new programmes to support vulnerable tenants.
Cllr Worrall said: “The community hub programme is moving forward at a pace. We are getting ready to launch the Chadwell hub and there are others communities across Thurrock all at different stages of readiness but all working hard to have a community hub that fits their own community’s needs.”
Community events with partners included The Big Lunch in Grays Town Park, T-Fest at Grays Beach, Black History Month hosted by TRUST, Diwali celebrations hosted by the Thurrock Asian association, celebrating the 65th annioversary of the Windrush docking at Tilbury and the Grays Street festival, a series of inclusive events organised by the Thurrock’s Internatinal Celebration of Culture, plus the Thurrock Arts and Drama festivals.
She said: “We have a fast changing community in Thurrock and we have faced hard and sometimes painful decisions, but we are not over it and we have even bigger challenges ahead over the coming years as our grant from central government is eroded.
“Members have been meeting as a task and finish group to look at issues of inequality and to consider whether Thurrock should support a fairness commission which has shown there continues to be high levels of disadvantage in some communities across Thurrock.
“Reporting of hate crime has seen a 28 per cent increase and 81 per cent of hate crime reported is recorded as racially motivated,” she said, adding: “We keep working closely with the Community Safety Partnership to ensure that we continue to tackle this.”
Cllr Worrall also said: “We continue to work closely with SERICC and I was saddened to see that yet again we are seeing the statistic for reported sexual offences on women and girls rise by 17 per cent this year.
“This subject is one that we must not be afraid to highlight and tackle head on. These women and girls are living in our communities and we must do all we can to protect them.”