60 second interview with Clare Shirtcliff
Clare Shirtcliff, Equalities PLE co-ordinator, ASA's Advicenow project
Q) What's your involvement with PLE?
I’m the PLE co-ordinator for ASA's Advicenow 'Progress towards equality: reaching out to communities’ project. I’ve been supporting eleven local advice agencies across England and Scotland running local equalities public legal education (PLE) projects providing information, education and outreach on discrimination and human rights.
Further information about who did what and where is here
Q) What's your favourite example of PLE?
Our most recent project threw up some great examples of PLE in action. Birmingham CAB produced a DVD for screening in their city centre waiting room. It starts with a series of vox pops; people in central Birmingham talk about what they think discrimination is and its effect. The presenter then explains the different types of discrimination and each type is illustrated by a professional actor. The CAB was able to draw on the expertise of Birmingham Repertory Theatre who supported the project by advising on the recruitment of the professional actors and directing the film. It’s been uploaded to Youtube: Birmingham CAB discrimination film.
The Ethnic Minorities Law Centre in Glasgow ran a series of workshops for young people from a wide range of backgrounds in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeenshire and Ayrshire. One of the interactive games they played was the Yes/No/Maybe game. You need:
- A list of true and false statements and questions (These can be adapted to suit the needs and interests of your particular audience and could include issues you want people’s opinions on.)
- Large printed ‘Yes’, ‘No’ and ‘Maybe’ signs (possibly laminated) placed separately around the room.
- Floor space!
The group facilitator reads out each statement or question in turn and encourages participants to move to the area which represents whether they agree (Yes), disagree (No) or are unsure (Maybe). The facilitator then asks for feedback about the reasons each group went where they did. This helps to encourage group discussion on specific topics. At the end of the discussion everyone has the opportunity to change their mind and move again. The facilitator then reads out the next question or statement.
I also enjoyed Greg’s Bottle Game – devised to attract the attention of visitors at an Information and Fun Day for new migrants in Wellingborough. The game involved people having to consider 3 possible answers to an ‘Is that discrimination?’ scenario. You can see a photo of the game at here
Q) Why do you think PLE works?
Because most people are hungry to find out more about their rights and responsibilities, keen to build their skills and confidence so they can deal with part or all of a problem themselves and to understand when they may need legal advice and where to get it from. PLE is about the slow but sure building of long-lasting, potentially life changing knowledge, skills and attitudes.
Q) Are there any issues around PLE that you are grappling with?
We know that a high percentage of disadvantaged and vulnerable people have low levels of legal knowledge and legal capability and this needs to be tackled if we want to achieve fairness and opportunity for all. How can we continue to develop PLE practice to help deal with this inequality and build civic engagement in the current economic climate?
Q) What's your top tip for encouraging PLE to flourish?
Preparing to teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) is the new minimum requirement for people who wish to teach in post-16 education. One way we could encourage PLE to flourish is by developing a PLE specific version of this qualification. So, it would cover general themes of adult learning including how adults learn, assessing their skills, session planning and delivery, teaching methods, learning materials/resources but within the context of PLE. I think specific training would help legal advisors feel confident enough to practise PLE and so encourage it to flourish.
Also, I’d like to encourage every legal advice agency to allocate responsibility for the development of local PLE activities to a named member of staff.
You can find out more about the equalities project here