Remove barriers to participation so that everyone has an equal opportunity to be involved in the work of the Parliament Follow up on previous research by researching different methods of engagement, who they work for, and the resource that is needed to use these methods. Apply research to use different engagement methods to reach the whole of society, including non-digital and digital approaches Raise awareness that the Scottish Parliament will provide payment which addresses the cost barriers that people face when coming to the Parliament and taking part in engagement activities, such as travel expenses, lost income from time off work, childcare and additional costs related to accessibility requirements. Ensure access for people with English as a second language including promoting and improving use of Happy to Translate. Support participation from those with learning disabilities by promoting and increasing the use of Easy Read.
A lot of work has been done in this area, broadband should be seen as a public utility, as was discussed at the inaugural Scottish Rural Parliament.
l community councils should be directly involved with parliament.
In this world of information saturation it will always be difficult for the Scot Parl voice to be heard when calling for representations. It's a difficult nut to crack. On the other hand, even if one wants to contribute it can be very time-consuming and many organisations seek public comment. This format (easy read form) seems to be simple and accessible - well done - but is it appropriate for more complex issues?
Community engagement is so important especially when it concerns local people and situations. Having locals involved will ensure community involvement and long term success of projects. Everyone needs to be involved. Libraries, schools, councils, community councils?
This is a really important issue and I like the Panel's recommendation that the Committee/SP should review previous research in this space. Different sectors have done a lot of work to understand barriers to participation over recent years and this could be drawn on e.g. children and young people, health and social care sectors.
The Scottish Parliament should realise that the lack of broadband is increasingly the biggest cause of inequality in Scotland. By virtually everything being on line, those who are unable to go on line are left helpless. I have found rural secondary school pupils in tears because at home they do not have access to the internet. An example of the failure to understand this is the arm of government which at considerable cost booked a hall + catering for 2 days to help people learn how to use the internet. The organiser was surprised that no one turned up. When asked where it was advertised the answer was "well we advertised it on the internet" This mindset needs to change!
public information campaign using new avenues (e.g. ads in newspapers, on local radio) to raise awareness of support already offered. On research, identify specific hard to reach groups by committee, or committee cluster, and pilot focused engagement strategies to reach them. Evaluate these to see what works. People's time is precious, though, so we need to be realistic about how much people can/want to engage, and to show that engagement counts. This means developing clear stories about how engagement makes a difference and improves policy, and advertising those.
The informational and physical barriers to access for disabled people need to be addressed to ensure that they are not preventing participation. Speaking to disabled people with a variety of impairments is necessary as each impairment group will have specific barriers some of which may even be at odds with the barriers that a different impairment group face (e.g. use of colours in information materials might include visually impaired people but exclude those on the autistic spectrum). One barrier is the time of Committee sessions. Disabled people with care needs often find early starts difficult because their care cannot be put in place in sufficient time to allow travel to the Parliament. Not only allowing but encouraging people to utilise online access to Committee sessions might ease such barriers.
Utilise community development expertise to understand and overcome barrries eg. geography, confidence, transport issues and various other barriers and demonstrate the process/ resources to mitigate against real or perceived barriers.
Even in EASYREAD there are still too many words for some people to understand. More needs to be done to make information as accessible as possible for all and this needs to be done quicker. What is the point of the equalities act if even the Parliament can't get things like this right? EASYREAD should be available for official report, debates, committees etc. but this takes too long at present. Keep working to break down words as much as possible and work with people who use EASYREAD to test the documents before they are published. Use Arial 14 in black in EASYREAD documents as this is the best font to make words clear. Trying to make pictures bigger to make it easier to see and understand.
Not everyone can use online so we need to have non-digital ways of taking part. Helplines would be helpful, including interactive phone lines (press 1 for "agree" and 2 for "disagree") More thoughts needs to given to people who can't communicate via speech or writing. Drop in sessions in Parliament and communities would be good for people to engage offline. And in person workshops. Sometimes it is hard to type in URLs so QR codes or hyperlinks are better and logging into digtal engagement sites should be as simple as possible, as sometimes it takes a long time to log in or remember passwords. Apps are an easier way to engage rather than website for some but not everyone uses apps.
When parliament are ready to release new documents it would be good to forward plan and have dates, times and location for the workshops for people to attend and receive additional support.
There are so many things people could get involved in at the Scottish Parliament that people care about but how do we ensure people don't get overwhelmed by opportunities to engage or information overload. People can be overwhelmed by too much information, enough time should be given for consultation so people can think about the issue and respond in their own time.
JustCitizens believe this is hugely important to increase engagement. Most civil servants, local representatives, MSPs and work the standard 9-5. This does not equate to flexibility and understanding that different people have different circumstances. Maybe there should be an attempt to create more flexible work times, after-hour events where people can ask questions in accessible community spaces such as libraries, churches, mosques, or community halls. One thing that must also be highlighted is creating accessible circumstances for carers to get involved and engaged with political matters. Hosting events somewhere with childcare available, or some provisions by Parliament may make this possible.
I agree, there is good research available on ways of addressing these issues, but it needs to be applied and implemented in Scotland, especially with people and local communities experiencing poverty and inequalities. Social class is an influential factor in this. Alongside this, further thought should be given to removing barriers and empowering equal participation of people in institutional residential settings: such as hospitals, care homes, secure care facilities, mental health and psychiatric facilities, prisons, drug rehabs, homeless facilities, or immigration facilities. Strategy and effort goes in to communicating with, informing and enabling these people and groups to vote in elections and referendums (as it pertains to their human rights and the franchise), but this could be better prioritised and more action taken regarding enabling their political participation during the parliamentary session.
Focus should be on action rather than more research. It is obvious that certain barriers exist. Remove them before researching any others.
These all seem like uncontroversial proposals, though I would hope we would aim to also use international best practice whenever possible so as to save time on researching solutions that may already exist.
The Parliament should work more with the Learning Disability Assembly to come together to put forward recommendations around what the Parliament can do to improve lives for people with learning difficulties and autistic people.
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