Fife Centre for Equalities chairman steps down

Andrew Barker
Andrew Barker

Andrew Barker, Fife Centre for Equalities’ chairman, is set to step down after three years at the helm of the Kirkcaldy charity.

The former senior police officer was the first person to lead the organisation which was formed by Fife Council, NHS Fife and Fife Voluntary Action

It aimed to pull together all the services – and offer support to people across the region.

The centre, which is an independent charity was borne out of an innovative project by its founders.

Working with other organisations,it helped to develop a more inclusive and responsive service for people in Fife, and is working to build a positive picture of the Kingdom’s modern and diverse population.

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Mr Barker took the helm of the fledgling organisation in 2016.

A former pupil of Grangemouth High School, he joined Central Scotland Police Force in 1981.

In his 32-year career, he rose to the rank of chief constable of Fife Constabulary in 2012 before retiring. His service was rewarded with the Queen’s Police Medal.

Of his role with the equalities group, he said: “We are a small organisation, but we are trying to encourage and assist others to look at what the overall picture is and what are the needs in relation to diversity.

Mr Barker remains passionate about addressing individuals’ equality needs – and emphasises that each case is different.

“I have said in the past, how do you avoid pigeonholing people? You can’t put them into one specific category of diversity – and what if an individual fits into several categories? Which one do you put them into?

“Fife Council’s view was to try and bring it all together and look at a overall focus on the individuals needs and how we can support them.”

The charity has been in the town for four years, providing a well needed service to members of the community who need help with equality issues,

Mr Barker added: “We are here to give support to anyone in relation to diversity, it could be someone with a disability, race, religion, sexuality or gender – whatever it is, we are here to act as a support mechanism, to take on peoples’ causes should they need us.

“If you look at the farming workforce in Fife, for example, it is a very mixed bag of nationalities. How do we ensure that they get correct service provision – because they are supporting our local economy.

“There are a lot of barriers facing these people, and that is what we are trying to help them overcome.

He said the centre had also helped to change ways of thinking about diversity in the community, adding: “We are recognised as being a leader in diversity and equality in Fife and we can influence people.

“A lot of our successes are subtle, because it’s about changing attitudes not just service provision.

“Sadly, there are still, and probably will always be pockets of discrimination, hate, racism, homophobia. Unfortunately some people still hold these views.”