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Do you know of any FREE space we can display our Voices of Edinburgh Exhibition?

We value your support and help.. please get in touch with us
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What can we do for you?

Interested in a Workshop or Talk within your organisation?

We offer facilitated discussions, workshops and talks on a range of equality, diversity and human rights issues. There is no cost for these and they can be tailored to an organisation’s specific interests or to meet the needs of your staff, volunteers or service users.

If you have any questions or require further information then please get in touch by email or give us a call.

Community Planning Uncovered

Do you know your LOIP from your LIP, your Local Community Planning Partnership from your Neighbourhood Network? The world of Community Planning can seem confusing and inaccessible, however help is at hand!

The Equality and Rights Network (EaRN) are pleased to be hosting a workshop on the new Community Planning structure in Edinburgh. Come along and hear from Deputy Council Leader, and member of the EPB, Councillor Cammy Day, council officers and third sector representatives on:

  • the new structure;
  • the equalities impact of the changes; and
  • how third sector organisations and individuals can best use the community planning tools to influence decision making in the city.

As well as hearing from our speakers there will be time for group discussion and a chance for you to ask questions.

The workshop will take place on Tuesday 25 June from 9.30am-12pm at Norton Park Conference Centre. ***PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE*** Our Community planning workshop will be held at Volunteer Edinburgh, 222 Leith Walk.

Please reserve your free space on our Eventbrite page HERE.

Download the post-event report: Equality and Rights in Edinburgh – Who’s Who?


On the 21 February 2019 the Equality and Rights Network (EaRN) hosted a free networking event at Norton Park Conference Centre titled Equality and Rights in Edinburgh – Who’s Who? Its aim was to give groups, organisations and individuals from the third sector and the public sector in Edinburgh, who work or have an interest in equality and rights, the chance to:

– Find out who’s who, and who’s doing what

– Share and discuss the big issues

– Promote their own projects and initiatives

Over 60 guests attended including representatives from local organisations, projects and community groups as well as EaRN staff members and volunteers. During the event, guests heard from four speakers and were able to participant in tables discussions around topics related to equality and rights issues. They could also visit the market place where 13 organisations hosted stalls.

We have produced a report on this event to capture what happened on the day and to summarise some of the issues discussed.

This report is now ready and you can download it by clicking HERE.



Recovering Offenders and Equality

In this blog Equalities Ambassador Johanna-Alice Cooke discusses her personal journey and the system of rehabilitation in Scotland.


I’m Johanna and I’m a volunteer Equality Ambassador with EaRN. Not long ago I was something different… This blog is about recovery, offending and why how we treat those moving away from offending behaviour is an equality issue affecting us all.

My offences were committed in a clump in the summer of 2016. I’ve three Statutory Breaches of the Peace convictions, and served an eighteen month community payback order in consequence. That’s the bare facts, but below the surface, I’m a woman scarred by an abusive childhood, who did desperate things that only hurt herself in a mental health crisis.

My sentence was a positive thing for me because in Scotland a lot of offending behaviours are also seen as public health issues rather than solely as criminal justice issues. My sentence was for support and treatment in a vulnerable women’s recovery and rehabilitation project called Willow here in Edinburgh.

No one ever changes a person in any positive and lasting way by treating them unjustly or by stigmatising them. What happened to me in the supervision sessions, which I would have attended without the order, was that my story was heard, the injustices in my life recognised, and the reasons I went off the rails identified and acknowledged. Once I was understood as a person, I moved into group sessions, a lot of which were about mental health and recovery – one option was the same Survive and Thrive course the NHS delivers across Scotland each year. Another was an introduction to MBT, a therapy expressly designed to help people with my kind of issues. I finished up in individual sessions with a clinical psychologist working focussing on me and my recovery.

So many of the women who offend in Scotland suffer from Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (or Borderline). The offences we commit are generally less serious and less violent than those committed by men. The reasons women offend are often rooted in the poor mental health that exposure to abuse and neglect throughout their lives engenders.

The Scottish approach is simple: Address the mental health issues that underlie offending behaviours and you can increase quality of life and reduce the potential for reoffending at the same time.

It’s not easy recovering. You expect to be hated, stigmatised and blamed. You can be bereft of even hope of hoping. You need to learn to want to hope, to hope, and to trust the people supervising you are there to first help you, and administrate your sentence second. You have to reach deep inside and recognise this is an awful, painful and protracted process of learning to be more in control of your emotions, thoughts and life.

Another thing I am is a psychology student. So I understood the process at Willow and how it could help me. I saw other women without that insight hoping and engaging anyway every day. I saw women like me recovering and doing it together just reinforced our progress.

The system works. Investing in helping offenders rather than inflicting punitive sentences positively changes lives.

At some point your time in the safety of somewhere like Willow ends, and the wider-world awaits you. Only you don’t take that step alone. You just direct where the transition takes you and get supported through it.


For me that’s Volunteer Edinburgh. I wanted to be part of creating greater equality. Walking through the front door and telling my story for the first time was really terrifying!

For a recovering offender like me, what we most need after spending years being helped to put ourselves back together is for that to be recognised. It’s not wiping the slate clean, it’s simply seeing us holistically.

Holistically is exactly how I was seen here, and how I became an Equality Ambassador, doing work I love. Since then I’ve talked with a really diverse range of people and only ever seen compassion for me and admiration of the work projects like Willow do when I tell my story.

I’m also autistic. I find it hard not to be open and honest and to the point. So when I tell my story it’s everything, not a version that makes me look good. I don’t have to look better than I am. I made some mistakes and did some wrong things, and I’m someone who took all the help available and became the person writing this. That’s enough.

I’m one of the success stories, I won’t reoffend and I’m not alone in recovering from offending. What I feel towards our justice system which could have punished me, but showed me compassion and invested in helping me instead is simple gratitude.

Whilst my story is personal, the wider societal issue here is reducing offending in Scotland.

That’s why how we treat recovering offenders is an equality issue that affects us all. Yes, we need to assess offenders leaving a sentence carefully. That’s common-sense. However we also need to see the person holistically. Rejection and self-hate are big parts of the poor mental health that many of Scotland’s female offenders suffer. When we finish a sentence, we’re like people the day a cast is removed. We work, but for a time we aren’t resilient and break easily.

Being seen as people and having our offending placed in the context of what we’ve done since, as well as the offending, and recognising the work we’ve done to recover and change, supports us and shows the stigma of minor offending does end and that recovering offenders can re-join our society with minimal barriers. To not have that reinforces rejection and self-hate and pushes us back towards the kind of poor mental health where we could offend again. And that is bad for everyone.

But if recovering offenders enjoy better mental health and don’t offend again, everybody wins.

How often can we genuinely say that?

Equality and Rights in Edinburgh – Who’s Who?

Here at EaRN we are excited to announce we are hosting a free networking event on February 21st at the Norton Park Conference Centre.  The concept of ‘networking’ can seem a bit mysterious and confusing. Basically, we are hosting an event where individuals, groups and organisations involved or interested in Equalities and Rights issues get a chance to meet, chat and share ideas. As well as an opportunity to meet others working within Equality and Rights in Edinburgh, it is also a space to promote your own project and connect with public sector representatives.

It is a great opportunity to find out who’s who and who’s doing what. The event is from 9.00am-1.00pm and will run as follows:

  • 9.00-9.30am: Registration, tea & coffee.
  • 9.30-1.00pm: Event open, visit stalls in our market place.
  • 12.30-1.00pm: Light buffet lunch – if you have any dietary requirements please get in touch by emailing

There will be a variety of stalls run by organisations based in the third and public sector. Each organisation will be promoting their projects and initiatives, giving everyone the perfect chance to find out more about the issues faced within Equalities and Rights and how people are tackling them. If any organisation would like to run a stall, and isn’t already, then please get in touch via email – There is limited number and they are filling fast so please get in touch as soon as possible!

For anyone and everyone interested in equalities and rights issues this is a brilliant way to get involved. From those who are new to the scene and want to get exposure to the projects underway, to those who have been active in equality and rights for years and want to discuss and share the issues important to them.

We are hoping to use the event and discussion surrounding Equality and Rights to help set our priorities here at EaRN. From feedback and involvement from the community and organisations we can use that to shape our future work and make it as relevant as possible.

It is a free event to attend and we would love to see you there. To register for the event please use the link here.

Date: 21st February 2019

Time: 9.00am – 1.00pm

Location: Norton Park Conference Centre, 57 Albion Road, Edinburgh, EH7 5QY

If you aren’t able to attend we would be grateful if you could spread the word in any way possible. Much appreciated!