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Join the Park Authority’s Equalities Advisory Panel

Recruitment for new members of the external Equalities Advisory Panel is open, and the panel would love to hear from people across the Cairngorms National Park who might like to find out more about getting involved and becoming a panel member. Find out more about the Equalities Advisory Panel below and hear from four panel members on their experience of being involved.

The Park Authority established an external Equalities Advisory Panel in 2020. The aim of the panel is to provide informed, evidence-based feedback, guidance and advice to support the Park Authority to ensure equality and inclusion are thoroughly assessed and embedded in all areas of their work, including approaches to communication, recruitment and corporate processes and also promote equality and inclusion work with our partners in the Park.

Over the past 12 months, the panel has made significant contributions to the new Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan, the Cairngorms 2030 programme, the Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Plan, the Sustainable Tourism Action Plan and the Infrastructure Plan, the communications strategy and work to diversify the Park Authority’s recruitment process and corporate policies, as well as giving advice to a host of partner organisations in the Park.

Panel members are volunteers and are recruited through an open recruitment process. The panel meets virtually every month and had its first face-to-face meeting in September 2020. Find details on the panel and membership and how you can get involved here. Applications should be sent in before 20 August 2023.

Linda Bamford (she/her)
“I have always been passionate about equal access for all, and as a wheelchair user, I have devoted a great deal of time advocating the needs of disabled people in relation to transport, travel and being able to access and enjoy the outdoors, particularly our green and blue spaces.  

I am a regular visitor to the Cairngorms National Park, devoting many trips to finding new accessible places to explore, for the buzz and to keep my mental health in check. 

When the position came up to give advice to the board and have a say on how we develop the park and make it accessible for all, I jumped at the chance to be involved and have thoroughly enjoyed being part of a forward-thinking team that puts equality, inclusion, and accessibility at the heart of its strategies and plans. I have learned so much about the park too – so my volunteering really is a win/win.  If you have the time and get the opportunity to be involved, go for it!  You really can make a difference”. 

Kevin Hutchens
“I got involved in the Equalities Advisory Panel because I have had a commitment to equality of opportunities for many years. Having been on benefits in the mid-1980s, I saw the problems many people on low and middle incomes would have in accessing the National Park. 

“We must increase the knowledge of the financial support that is available through benevolent associations and promote discounts and other schemes to help people on low and middle incomes enjoy this beautiful area. Through a genuine commitment to diversity, a greater knowledge of the environment can be secured, and more people can be encouraged to have healthy lifestyles also enriching the community for us all.”

Bo (they/them)
“My name is Bo. I spend most of my free time walking, running, and cycling around the Cairngorms. I believe that the wild and rural landscapes are perfect for supporting physical, mental and spiritual health. I’m also non-binary, which is just one of the many different ways there are to be human. Recently trans and non-binary people have become more widely recognised but not always understood, unfortunately, due to ongoing misinformation and prejudice, especially in mainstream and social media. This has had a huge negative impact on our community and safety and is an example of barriers faced by some groups to feeling welcome and included, even in our own local areas. 

“Although Scotland is diverse, there is often less diversity in rural areas, including the Cairngorms, where some groups are underrepresented as both residents and visitors. This includes people of colour, disabled people, and LGBTQ+ people. The reasons for this are often complex, and solutions are not always obvious to decision-makers.

“One step is advocacy both from our own lived experience and on behalf of others with similar experiences through an influential platform like the Equalities Advisory Panel. This is a space to unpack and perhaps begin to resolve some of the barriers to people feeling welcome to live in and visit the Cairngorms. Everyone has the inalienable right to the wellbeing gifted to us by nature. Where there are barriers to people accessing that right, it is our responsibility to remove them.”

Heather Earnshaw (she/her)
“I have so enjoyed being involved with the Equalities Advisory Panel. I originally applied to join because it was the right time for me personally to give something back and this seemed a good fit. Outside work, I spend a lot of time outdoors, preferably up a hill, but anywhere ‘green’ will do, and at work, I was focused on equalities (though that hadn’t been my original background). I was conscious that I get so much (mentally as well as physically) from being in wild places but that not everyone feels comfortable or welcomed there. That’s why I joined. 

“I hoped to contribute to activity that would enable more people to feel places like the Cairngorms National Park are ‘for them’. I never thought how much I would gain myself from being involved in the panel. It’s hard to summarise what the benefits have been for me. I live in a city, and some months it is just lovely to hear about projects in the Park – to feel a bit of a connection to the place. But mostly it’s been about the other panel members. They are such a knowledgeable, friendly, passionate group with a stunning breadth of expertise and the generosity to want to share it.  I learn something at every meeting and always come away feeling positive about the conversation.”

Get involved
We are inviting expressions of interest for members to join the Equalities Advisory Panel to support us in our journey to create a fully inclusive Park Authority. We want members who have background knowledge and experience in equality and diversity and who can give us evidence based advice on best practice so we can truly deliver the best for our visitors, communities and staff across all protected characteristics. Find out more and submit your expression of interest here by 20 August 2023.

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