Nil by Mouth have enjoyed a partnership with South Lanarkshire College since 2013 as part of our ‘Beyond Religion and Belief’ Workplace programme. Since signing up, the college has taken part in various events and campaigns all aimed at tackling sectarianism and raising awareness of the issue amongst staff and students.
SLC is a bright, modern and forward thinking college who put their students and staff at the heart of everything they do. The College has a clear vision and strategy to promote equality, access and inclusion, and has a specific strategic aim for promoting equality and diversity. It was very keen to ensure that sectarianism was challenged on campus. Staff worked alongside Nil by Mouth to develop a dedicated anti-sectarianism policy covering the entire college community.
SLC was also the first body to agree to participate in our awareness campaign warning of the legal ramifications of online bigotry. Through participation SLC students and staff were made fully aware of the impacts of posting sectarian and offensive content on the internet and the consequences, which in extreme cases can include a maximum sentence of five years in prison. In Scotland there has been a number of high profile cases involving footballers and celebrities having posted inappropriate content online and in recent years there have been a number of incidents regarding sectarian behaviour at work. ‘Online Sectarianism’ was highlighted as a growing problem in the final, Scottish Government’s Advisory group report.
The campaign message warns ‘It only takes seconds to post a sectarian message online….But you could get five years for it.’ More than 100 posters have been displayed in classrooms, common areas and bathrooms across the East Kilbride Campus since January 2015 reaching thousands of college users.
Staff and students have also participated in training which seeks to raise awareness of sectarianism in the workplace. Students on employability projects were keen to learn more about the impact of sectarianism and examples of it happening in work. The groups discus rights and responsibilities in the workplace and the impact that sectarian attitudes can have on job prospects and gaining employment. The session supported their preparations for moving into employment.
Since 2013 NBM has facilitated discussion sessions with SLC staff through the Beyond Religion and Belief programme providing them with an understanding of sectarianism and an opportunity to consider how they can respond to instances of it on campus. Further equalities and diversity work will be taking place during the 2015 – 16 academic session.
Fresher’s fair events are an excellent opportunity for organisations to reach thousands of students and to promote their cause through distribution of leaflets and freebies. Nil By Mouth have been made very welcome at a number of events which have allowed our staff the opportunity to speak with both students and college staff and to promote recent campaigns such as #kissbigotrygoodbye.
In June 2015 SLC staff from the equalities team attended Nil By Mouth’s first ever national conference on tackling sectarianism in Scottish workplaces. The event saw over 100 delegates participate from a variety of large public and private sector employers, charities and trade unions. The conference proved to be a vehicle to encourage employers to focus their minds on how they can best tackle any issues they encounter on both a day to day and policy level. The message that ‘Sectarianism has no place in a 21st century workplace’ was well received and backed by all who attended the event at Edinburgh City Chambers.