News & Blog


Port of Leith Design Guide

 

port of leith housing association logo

 

Port of Leith Housing Association are in the process of reviewing their 2015 New Build Design Guide which you can view here.

The association use the New Build Design Guide as the standard for all of their new build housing. They do not include any existing statutory requirements or regulations (for example Building Standards) within the guide as all new build housing will already comply with this.

For those interested please take a look at the guide and contact Wendy Farmer (Development Manager at the Port of Leith Housing Association) by email at wendy.farmer@polha.co.uk or by calling 0131 553 8750 with any comments. The deadline for responses is 30 September 2017.

 


EaRN News & Updates

EaRN produces a bimonthly newsletter entitled EaRN News & Updates that contains stories and news articles on equality and rights issues in the city along with updates from our network.

If you would like to catch up on the latest newsletter you can view it here:

EaRN News & Updates – 28 July 2017

To subscribe to this newsletter please register your interest here.

If you would like us to include something in our next issue you can contact us at equalityandrights@volunteeredinburgh.org.uk.


Cruising the Mediterranean

In this blog our former Equalities Ambassador Shirley Todd shares her most recent experience of being a wheelchair user on board a cruise ship.

 

Royal Caribbean – Navigator of the Seas

8-22 July 2017

Mediterranean Beaches

Stateroom number 1814

Deck 12

 

I was expectant that the issues that blighted our cruise in October 2016, had been addressed and rectified, but the carpet in our stateroom was still wet.

Our Stateroom Attendant, Tosha, was friendly and we saw her every day.  She kept our stateroom looking spick and span.

RCI still haven’t caught on regarding paper hand towels in public toilets.

We attended six theatre shows and an ice show.  They were all excellent.  The Rock Britannia street party on the Royal Promenade is always a highlight of our cruise.

The ship was spotless all the time.  We had a Norovirus outbreak halfway through the first week and the ship’s sanitation process was prompt, thorough and visible.

The food was still a bit mixed.  Being seafood avoiders, the menus were a bit restrictive in the Sapphire Dining Room.  The Windjammer was still a favourite for food quality and choice.

We didn’t book any excursions due to our previous experience with difficulty trying to get spaces on ‘accessible’ excursions and a lack of ‘accessible’ excursions offered.

Two days before visiting Nice, we received information about powerchair and scooter users – “may or may not be allowed to get on or off the ship”.  We had already queried with shore excursions desk the fact that this port required the use of tender boats, and were they wheelchair/powerchair accessible.  They reassured us that they were, but that there may not be shuttle buses to Nice, approx. 20 miles away.  They advised that there were taxis on the port-side but couldn’t say if there were wheelchair accessible taxis.  We decided to give it a go but were on the way to the gangway when we met another powerchair user going the other direction who said “I wouldn’t bother, they’re refusing to take powerchairs”.  Yet another port where I couldn’t get off the ship!

Left in your stateroom every day is a copy of “Cruise Compass” which gives a list of everything going on around the ship the following day, allowing you to plan your day.

There are kids clubs for all age ranges.  My daughter, who’s 14, went to the teen club and made loads of new friends.  She did say that a lot of the activities advertised did not happen, and they ended up sitting in the teen lounge a lot of the time.

There is always a rush for sunbeds on the ‘at sea’ days.

It’s good to see that drinks beside the pool are now served in plastic ‘glasses’.

Because we’d visited most of the ports before, we ended up only getting off the ship at 2 ports – Cagliari (Sardinia) and Malaga.  Cagliari was pleasant, we didn’t stray too far from the port, and had a pastry and drink at one of the local cafes.  Malaga was brill!  We got a wheelchair accessible taxi at the port (this cost 15 Euros)  to ‘El Corte Ingles’, which was a large department store spread over 6 floors and a supermarket in the basement. There was a disabled toilet on each level.  Five minutes’ walk away is the ‘Centro Comercial Larios’, which was a huge shopping mall, with a wide range of genre of shops. Again, there were disabled toilets everywhere, as well as flat escalators, which wheelchairs, buggies etc could use.  I loved the timed crossings and there were no kerbs, everything was flat.  From outside El Corte Ingles, where we were dropped off, a taxi driver radioed for a wheelchair  accessible taxi to take us back to the ship.  This taxi cost 12 Euros.

 

Here are my comments on the ship:

Positives

  • Our stateroom’s panoramic window was tremendous.
  • When we sailed on Anthem of the Seas two years ago, they had Wow bands.  I suggested last year that they could phase this in on other ships, starting with the accessible staterooms so that the doors would open automatically, this would be a huge help to disabled, and specifically, wheelchair-bound guests.
  • The ice rink and the ice shows were really good.
  • The Rock Britannia night is always great fun.
  • The entertainment staff were excellent and good fun.

Negatives

  • I also advised in last year’s review that in the theatre, there needs to be drinks holders on the backs of the last row chairs, in front of the wheelchair and companion spaces.
  • Royal Caribbean are getting a lot right as regards wheelchair using guests, but they have still got a way to go.

 

NOW FOR THE WORST BITS

Despite assurances from RCI, the carpet in our room was still wet.  After our cruise last year was so disrupted, I felt that it was inappropriate for this to be repeated, and refused any investigations while we occupied the room.  RCI had had 9 months to investigate this issue.  One evening while my daughter was in the room alone, just about to step into the shower, a man appeared in our room, obviously to check/investigate the leak.  I could not allow this to happen.  About the end of the first week, our shower started to run hot and cold and, although we reported it, we stated that we did not want them to investigate while we occupied the room.  We either had to put up with it or risk any number of people trying to fix the problem.

 

We have already booked next year’s cruise on the same ship to the Baltics in June.  I’m so looking forward to it.  Hopefully there won’t be any problems with ports or getting on/off the ship.

 

 


A Year in St Louis

Leila Osman, one of our volunteer Equalities Ambassadors, recently returned from a year studying abroad in Missouri, USA. In this blog she reflects on her experience on the other side of the Atlantic.

After spending the last year in Missouri, I have returned to begin my work as an Equalities Ambassador for EaRN. Weather aside, bonnie Scotland was sorely missed as I journeyed across the pond for a year of study and adventure at Washington University in St. Louis.

My first exposure to ‘St. Louis’ was the scene that faced me as I jumped out of my taxi on campus. As I surveyed the gloriously grand, modern-castle like buildings towering over me, I could not help being incredibly impressed and immediately aware of the sheer amount of resources being pumped into this prestigious institution. It was clear, however, that first impressions, and the Wash U campus, were miles away from the realities of St. Louis as a whole.

Although ‘ghost town’ might be a little unfair as a description for St. Louis today, there is certainly a feeling of lost potential and, as I journeyed further out of the campus towards down town St. Louis and along the border of North City, there was a strong impression of St. Louis’s booming, thriving, industrial past no longer being present today. It has followed the pattern that is all too familiar in some of the most troubled cities in the US. Since the end of the second world war, economic decline has devastated employment rates, ‘white flight’ (an exodus of the white population to new municipalities in St. Louis county), combined with discriminatory practices in many of its society’s foundational institutions, and the systematic exclusion of African American and minority populations in the labour market, has polarised African American and white people across the city. St. Louis today is among the most segregated and deprived cities in the US.

This deep divide became suddenly strikingly obvious to me one night, when we wondered back home, along the North city border, from a trendy restaurant area in central west end. Within one block, everything immediately changed: On my left were some of St. Louis’s most beautiful mansions with expansive gardens, magnificent towers and shiny cars parked behind high and imposing gates. On my right were dilapidated, abandoned buildings and badly lit streets. At one moment we heard gunshots only a few blocks to our right, with no sirens to follow. I was eventually told that we were actually walking along what’s known as the ‘Delmar Divide’; an invisible line separating North City –now predominantly African American and living below the poverty line – with a largely white, and richer, area.

So, where does Washington University sit in this world of polar opposites? In 2014, when Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, one of St. Louis’s municipalities, which was followed by an explosion of riots and protests, Washington University was unwilling to fully admit that its place in St. Louis is not just happenstance – it can not be so close to such devastating poverty and inequality without acknowledging that it may be a very relevant part of the picture. It had to reconcile with itself and do more to integrate itself with the backdrop in which it stands. There have certainly been some efforts to do this, with maybe some action left to be desired. As an exchange student I wanted to be part of any attempt to be a more active and self-conscious part in the St. Louis story. I looked to the most obvious manifestation of the inequality on campus – the overwhelming presence of African Americans in low skilled positions –  The university campus employs thousands of workers in its day to day business. The majority of housekeepers, food staff, and grounds men/women are African American and from St. Louis, which is not surprising, considering the makeup of the St. Louis city community. However, it is undeniably a product of the diminished educational, economic, and political opportunity for African Americans, left by past and present discrimination. I joined Student Workers Alliance because it seemed like an effective, grassroots effort to positively impact the lives of workers on campus. It has at times been radical, and effective, in its efforts to transform the working conditions and livelihood of workers on campus. It has used various tactics to achieve its aims, from paralysing the university with radical action such as sit ins and protests in 2005, in order to pressure the university into taking immediate action to increase the minimum wage for work on campus, to acting as a mediator between workers who had felt their voices had not been properly heard. It aims to adjust its strategy and tone to the conditions and circumstances in which it is based. This year, our main aims were two fold; first, to make sure that the dining staff’s vote to unionise/not unionise was not interrupted by a non neutral administration, and second, to prepare for another push towards attaining a living wage on campus, which will continue next year. We want to follow the precedent set by other universities in the US that have increased their minimum wage to a sustainable living wage rather than a competitive wage for the St. Louis region – as an incredibly privileged institution they should be setting the standard for the area rather than paying their workers badly through contractors…

As for lessons learnt and things to bring back to Edinburgh and EaRN- Being involved in SWA, as well as the work I was doing for Shawnee Hills and Hollers, who were attempting to gain state recognition of their native American settlement in Southern Illinois, I have come away from St. Louis with a strong faith in the power of grassroots organising. Making people’s voices heard, information sharing by creating strong networks within an organisation or community, and trying to solve issues from the bottom up, really is a great way to get things done. Creating networks in any institution or area is key to promoting equality and opportunity by creating transparency and making actors accountable for various actions. It may be a bit of a simple cliché, but when people have the necessary resources, information, and access to the decision making processes that govern their lives, they are certainly more likely to achieve meaningful change.

 


EaRN Drop-ins

Throughout the year EaRN are busy getting involved in all sorts of activities to help advance equality, promote human rights, and tackle inequality and poverty in our city.

Among these activities are regular drop-ins that EaRN hold at locations around Edinburgh. Each drop-in focuses on a different theme, and they all provide an opportunity for members of the public to meet with EaRN, our Equalities Ambassadors, and our Member Organisations and Individuals to discuss the issues faced, and what action might be taken.

We have held drop-ins on Community Safety and on Accessibility and we would like to focus our next drop-in on Transport.

Ainhoa Arroyo who is one of our Media Volunteers directed and edited a film that you can view below featuring footage from our drop-ins, and from our regular gatherings with project members.

 


Message from Police Scotland

Police Scotland stands with our colleagues and the communities of London following the terrorist attack on Saturday 3 June 2017. This comes soon after the attack in Manchester, and other recent attacks abroad. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by these events. We will provide any assistance necessary to the Metropolitan Police Service.

While we understand that the public will clearly be appalled by these events, I would urge each and every member of our communities to remain united against extremism and hate.

Police Scotland will not tolerate any attempts to target any community by any misguided individual or group and will work with all of our partners to resolve any issues and address any concerns. Should anyone become a victim of, or witness to, any hate crime, they should contact the police and report the incident.

Please be assured that Police Scotland continues to work with partners at home and abroad to counter the threat from terrorism and ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our communities.

Please be vigilant and if you suspect something is wrong then report it to the police. If you have any concerns or information about suspicious activity please contact the Police on 101, the UK Anti-Terrorism Hotline on 0800 789 321, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or in an emergency dial 999.

Police Scotland continues to dynamically review all safety and security plans and operations. An element of this includes ensuring our armed policing and specialist resources are appropriately deployed.

The UK threat level remains at Severe. We have no specific information that Scotland is at risk of attack and I would ask you to go about your business as normal, remaining alert but not alarmed.

Thank you for your continued support in keeping our communities safe.

Steve Johnson
Assistant Chief Constable