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Archive for December 2008

As the festive season is upon us, and 2008 draws to a close, this episode is intended as a parting thought for the year.

Unless they are very lucky, most of the kinds of people we focus upon in Equality, Diversity and Human Rights will have had a close encounter of some kind with discrimination. Ideally that experience would make everyone that extra bit sensitive about respecting the differences of others. Unfortunately that’s not always the case. Firsthand experience of hurt doesn’t necessarily make better people.

People from some ethnic backgrounds may express homophobic views. Some lesbian or gay people may express racist views. It can seem at times as though people with evangelical religious beliefs might be intolerant of just about everyone other than themselves. Disputes can extend even within communities who, while distinct, experience similar forms of discrimination.

Nobody ever emerges well from these affairs. People behave badly on all sides. The in-fighting detracts from the business of tackling wider issues. Hostilities alienate friends and allies. They sap energy and lead to disillusioned and bruised people disengaging altogether.

But if these disputes can sometimes feel like war then it's worth remembering that it takes two to make an eventual truce.

Not all truces last, of course. Yet even a brief halt can allow common humanity to be recognised and highlight the pointlessness of the fray. The setting here is the multiply-divided LGBT community, but it could be any.

The piano piece “I’m Home Again”, by Internet Composer Michael Walthius, is available on the Album “Dreaming in Stereo”, which can be purchased online here or here.

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Estimates vary about the number of Britons with disabilities of various kinds. Some say it’s 1 in 7; others say 1 in 5. Either way, it’s a significant chunk of the population.

Historically many disabled people have faced enormous barriers in being able to work and access facilities the rest of us take for granted. Yet none of us can be sure we won’t acquire a disability ourselves – through accidents, chronic illness or simply old age. If it doesn’t happen to us, it may affect someone we would end up caring for. So we cannot afford to be smug and thankful it doesn’t affect us.

One person who knows the barriers very well is Lorraine Gradwell, who recently received an MBE for her extensive work in the field. Lorraine is Chief Executive of Breakthrough UK Ltd, a Manchester-based social enterprise, led and controlled by disabled people, and which specialises in helping people access work.

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I'm hoping to get one more interview online for Just Plain Sense before the holiday season is upon us. In the meantime regular listeners with a Podcast 'habit' to feed may like to know about a separate new channel which I've now opened for my poetry ...

Fishing for Birds features personal readings of the many poems I penned during the 1970's and 1990's. Almost thirty of these have been recorded already and, to kick things off, I've already released the first six of those. The rest will be released at the rate of one or two each day over the holidays.

The title poem in the collection is based on the experience of meeting a disabled man one day when I was walking across Boston Common, in Massachusetts. The experience of learning how Richard Troise overcame his physical limitations to fly kites had a lasting effect on my own thinking about dealing with apparent barriers. That's why I think it has a valid place here, as a taster.

Happy listening!

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At least 11% of Britain’s population falls into the category of Black or Minority Ethnic (BME). Yet that umbrella term conceals a huge diversity in itself. Although it’s tempting to think in terms of some of the most obvious groups, such as people who’ve originated from Africa, the West Indies or Asia, or those from the middle east, it’s easy to forget all the other backgrounds that people have. Irish people are considered an ethnic group, for instance. So are white Europeans from the enlarged European Community.

In this Episode Rushi Munshi, a Regional Director for the Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations (CEMVO), describes how his organisation works with the vast number of voluntary sector organisations representing this varied segment of Britain's society.

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