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Salford Children's Services Procedures Manual Salford City Council website

3.3.7 Equality and Diversity


This chapter informs on how all children and young people in residential care are to be treated with respect and dignity and they should feel safe and cared for.


  1. Introduction
  2. How can Residential Staff help?
  3. Gender and Sexuality
  4. Culture, Language & Religion
  5. Black Children
  6. Caring For Children from Different Cultural & Religious Backgrounds
  7. Disability
  8. Religion
  9. Hair care for young people of African/Caribbean Descent

1. Introduction

Salford City Council has an Equal Opportunities policy, which states that every citizen should be treated with equal regard, regardless of their ability, race, religion, culture, language, age, sexuality or gender.

All children and young people are to be treated with respect and dignity, and they should feel safe and cared for.

Some people discriminate because they don’t like a particular group; sometimes they do not understand the different culture or disability. Many people discriminate without realising it. Discrimination doesn’t just mean treating someone differently, it also includes using names or words which put people down. If you hear name-calling going on, make sure you discuss it. All too often children don’t realise how hurtful and cruel they are being. Children, and some adults, often do not understand what the words they are using mean. It is usually something they have heard others say.

Young People in Residential Care may suffer unfair discrimination because they are in care, or because of ethnicity, religion, language, disability or other aspects of their identity.

2. How can Residential Staff help?

No-one should be discriminated against because of their difference. Differences should not be ignored. Children and young people may need your help to learn to respect these differences. Staff have to recognise and challenge unfair discrimination and were necessary, act as advocates for children and young people. We all have prejudices. Everyone involved in looking after other peoples children has to be aware of their own prejudices and work to combat them when they may lead to unfairness.

Children and young people may have views on whether or not they want to attend a Christian Church, Mosque or Hindu Temple, eat Asian or Caribbean food, wear their hair in a particular way or be treated differently because of their disability or sexuality.

In terms of race and culture Staff need to find out what the child has been used to and what practices they would like to follow or what practices their parents would like them to follow.

Discrimination should be challenged at every level at all times.

3. Gender and Sexuality

Staff need to treat all children and young people in their care equally and not reinforce gender stereotypes. Staff need to discuss sex and sexuality in an age appropriate and open way that encourages discussion about the issues.

Although it might seem that everyone lives according to the boy meets girl stereotype, lots of people make different choices about their partners, often in the face of prejudice and hostility from those around them.

Happiness for all of us depends on being accepted for who we are, not living life according to the wishes of those who care about us. If a young person you are caring for thinks that he or she is lesbian or gay, or not sure, then talking to somebody who understands, without feeling pressurised will help. Everyone needs the support, acceptance and understanding of those who are caring for them.

There are groups/help lines offering advice to young gays and lesbians both nationally and locally. One example is the Lesbian and Gay Switchboard Tel: 0161 274 3999.

The Manchester Parents Group may also be able to offer advice.

4. Culture, Language & Religion

It is important for a child’s identity and possible reunification with his/her birth family that a child’s culture, language and religion are respected during a period of separation from their families.

Culture describes the way people live their lives. Culture is founded on many different factors e.g. memories, experience, background, language, racial identity, class, religion and family attitudes. Culture is part of a child’s identity and heritage. All foster carers should respect and value a child’s cultural heritage. Staff should be aware that it is possible that a child whose first language is not English may be placed with them. Language is an important part of a child’s identity and culture. Every effort should be made to preserve a child’s linguistic and communication skills, otherwise they may lose a large part of their culture.

5. Black Children

The term ‘black’ in this context is a political term, and refers to any child, who because of his/her racial origin, culture, religion or language experiences racism.

It is a very emotional experience for a child to leave their family for whatever reason and be placed in care. All children will be unsettled and distressed by the experience. For a black child, this situation may be made worse by being black in a society that does not appear to value black children.

All black children therefore need reassurance about their self-worth, and need to feel valued and respected. Even very young children may need work to be carried out with them on their identity as a black person. This should be discussed with the child’s social worker at the beginning of the placement and at all childcare reviews.

Black children will also have particular needs, such as hair and skin care products, toys and educational material, which help to promote a sense of black identity.

Any incidents of racism directed towards a child in your care or towards yourself by organisations or individuals should be recorded, reported to the child’s social worker.

6. Caring For Children from Different Cultural & Religious Backgrounds

The Children Act 1989 says that the Local Authority should take a child’s racial, cultural and religious needs into account when deciding on a placement. Our aim would be to match a child’s needs with an appropriate placement.

Ways Staff can help:

  • Find out what a child has been used to and what practices they would like to follow or what practices their parents would like them to follow.
  • Give support. Sometimes children may suffer harassment. They will need help and guidance in all sorts of ways e.g. how to complain.
  • Build pride and self-esteem. All children need positive images of themselves, their background and way of life. Make sure you have a supply of appropriate toys, books.
  • Find out all the information you can about the background, history and culture of any child living with you. Ensure you have access to literature and television programmes directed towards ethnic minorities.
  • Discuss with the child and parents what food the child likes to eat and whether he/she has any special dietary rules. Find out about essential cultural or religious customs like hair and skin care.

7. Disability

Children with disabilities are those children with physical impairments, sensory impairments (including deaf children and blind children), children with learning disabilities and some children with emotional difficulties.

It is important to recognise and remember that children with disabilities may experience discrimination in all sorts of ways. Make sure that you understand how people with disabilities may be discriminated against. Then be prepared to help the child deal with and challenge any discrimination they may face.

The Children Act states that there is a general duty on the Children’s Services Department to provide an appropriate range and level of services to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need which includes children with disabilities. This recognises that children with disabilities should have the same rights as everyone else, including the important right of access to services, to education and employment and to public buildings.

Encourage the child to take part in a range of activities. Do not assume they will not be able to do something.

8. Religion

It is important for a child’s identity and possible reunification with his/her birth family that a child’s religious practices and beliefs are represented during a period of separation from their birth family. Staff cannot change a child’s religion.

Although you may not have strong religious convictions yourself, the child or his/her birth family may have. Under these circumstances it is part of your role to encourage the child placed with you to practice his/her religion.

Alternatively you may have strong religious convictions, whereas the child and their family do not, it would be inappropriate to insist that the child observes your religious practices.

If you are unsure about a child’s religious practices, speak to the child’s social worker or we may need to clarify the position with the child’s birth family.

Some of the established world religions are: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. We all need to be understanding and respectful of each other’s religions and customs arising out of these belief systems. If you are unsure about a child's religious practices, speak to the child's social worker or we may need to clarify the position with the child's birth family.

The rest of this section gives you a brief guide to some of the customs of the faiths which comprise our multi-faith society. Please note: these are the main religions only. Minority religions and minority religious sects are not included. If the child you are caring for does not belong to any religion listed here or you are unsure about a child’s religious practices, please speak to the child’s social worker.


Buddhism is a philosophy or way of thinking rather than a set of social rules. Belief in Reincarnation encourages a Buddhist to lead a good life.

There are many Buddhist sects, but all follow the five laws (silas):

  1. No killing
  2. No stealing
  3. No sexual misconduct
  4. No falsehoods
  5. No drinking

Buddhism at its core has a love for all living beings and respect for all forms of life. Charity, hospitality and self-discipline are encouraged. The Buddhist goal is to escape the eternal cycle of life and death and to reach a state of near perfection known as Nirvana.

Observances: Buddhists worship in temples in which are statues of Buddha. The monks and nuns shave their heads and wear yellow robes. Worship involves meditation and chanting. Candles are burned and flowers offered.

Fasting: Some Buddhists fast on the 1st and 15th day of each lunar month.

Diet: No regulation, but the majority of Buddhists are vegetarians.

Customs: Nothing specific is laid down

Death: Cremation is preferred.


One of the largest of the world religions, it is regarded as having been founded by Jesus of Nazareth. Like Buddhism and Islam it is a universal religion. Like other world religions, Christianity includes a vast number of branches and sects.

Some Christian churches are: Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of England /Ireland /Scotland/Wales.

As Christ was a Jew, the early Christians used readings from the Old Testament and psalms and hymns from the Jewish faith. As accounts of Christ’s teachings were gathered they became known as the New Testament. The two books were formed to create the bible or holy book of Christians.

The central beliefs are:

  1. There is only one God. His son Jesus Christ died and rose again from the dead.
  2. Keep the 10 commandments.
  3. There is life after death with God. God consists of three people in one - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Practising Christians observe Sunday as the holy day of the week and gather in churches to worship.

Observances: Vary according to the branch of Christianity. However most have some form of baptism into the Church. In Roman Catholicism, children are prepared to take part in the celebration of the mass by taking their first Holy Communion. Along with this, preparations are made to attend confession. Marriage is considered binding but divorce is granted in some cases

Death: Cremation and burial are both permitted.


Hinduism is the most established of the world's religions. It is not based on the teachings of any one special person. Hinduism is a social system as well as a set of religious beliefs.

Practices: Vary a great deal depending on caste and areas of origin. Caste is inherited by birth and is determined by individual Karma, meaning reward for good deeds and punishment for wickedness.

Observances: Hindus pray twice daily. They may use holy books, prayer beads and burn incense. At home a shrine may be set up, sometimes in a room set aside for prayer. The temples are used for festivals and special celebrations. Horoscopes are an important part of religious belief.

Fasting: Is practised by devout Hindus, mainly women. Some Hindus may fast weekly depending on their loyalty to a particular deity or the position of the stars. Fasting to Hindus means eating only pure foods such as fruit and yoghurt.

Diet: Many Hindus are vegetarian. Neither beef nor pork is ever eaten by Hindus, cows are sacred and pigs are scavenging animals in India. Some do not eat eggs - they are seen as a source of life or cheese if it is made with animal rennet. Onions and garlic are seen as harmful stimulants. Some Hindus avoid tea and coffee. Alcohol is officially frowned upon.

Customs: Spiritual purity and physical cleanliness are extremely important. Most Hindus prefer showers to baths. Modest dress is favoured for both men and women. Women may wear a Sari, loose fitting trousers, a top and a long scarf covering the head (Chadar). Men must cover them selves from waist to knee. Women would not expect to undress fully for a medical examination and would prefer to be examined by female medical staff.


Muslims believe in one God. They accept all prophets and their books but recognise the prophet Mohammed as the latest prophet.

Observances: Worship is in a Mosque. The holy book is called the Koran and Friday is the Muslim's holy day. Islam has no caste system, it is a belief intended for everyone. Muslims are required to pray five times a day.

Fasting: Muslims fast from dawn to sunset for one lunar month a year which is known as Ramadan. Fasting is waived for menstruating, pregnant and breastfeeding women. This is also the case for children who have not reached puberty. Muslims are also expected to give two and a half percent of their savings for the needy and to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the Holy City, once in their lifetime if health and money permit. Muslims should wash their face, hands and feet in running water before prayer whenever possible. Muslims pray facing Mecca and prefer to have a special room set aside for prayer as shoes are not worn in this room.

Diet: Muslims may not eat the flesh of pigs. Other meats can be eaten provided the animal is killed in the manner laid down by Islamic law. This meat is called Halal. There are special butchers where this meat is sold. Halal meat should be stored and cooked separately from non-Halal food. The drinking of alcohol is forbidden along with tobacco and drugs.


The word God is never written in full in Judaism. Hebrew is the language of prayer. A Rabbi is a Jewish leader/priest/teacher. The Jewish community considers itself to be both a religious community and an ethnic group.

Practices: Are laid down by the Torah (the five books of Moses) and the Talmud which is an interpretation of these books by the rabbis.

There are different groups of Jews - Orthodox, Reform and Liberal - all of whom observe these rules in different ways. The Sabbath or Jewish Holy Day starts at sunset on Friday and ends on Saturday evening. Orthodox Jews may not do any kind of work on the Sabbath, not even switching on a light or electrical equipment, driving or using public transport, cooking, telephoning or writing - unless any of these is necessary to save life.

Nearly all Jewish boys are circumcised by a qualified Mohel eight days after birth. At the age of 13, boys are accepted as full members of the community in a ceremony known as Bar Mitzvah. Girls are similarly accepted at the age of 12 sometimes with a Bat Mitzvah.

Fasting: Religious Jews fast for 25 hours beginning at sunset on the eve of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and on three other specified days.

Diet: Meat from pigs and all things made with it are forbidden as are shellfish, rabbits and birds of prey and some cheeses. Kosher is a word used to describe meat that has been killed and prepared according to Jewish law or to any allowed food, e.g. all fruit and vegetables.


This religion originates from the Punjab in India. Its basis is the unity of God and the brotherhood of man and in it caste plays a comparatively small part. Sikh means disciple, and the holy book of the Sikh has taken the place of the leader.

Observances: Sikhs or learners were remakers of combined aspects of Islam and Hinduism.They originated in Punjab, India in the first century. Guru Nanak was their leader and with his 9 successors is revered as a saint. The Sikh Holy Book is called the Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs worship together in temples. The most famous of these is the Golden Temple at Amritsar. The river Ganges is held to be a sacred river. Sikh homes may have a shrine for the Holy Book. This may be in a special room. If so, shoes should not be worn in this area and the head should be covered. Prayers are said around sunrise and sunset.

Diet: Beef, alcohol and tobacco are forbidden, so is Halal meat. Chicken, lamb and pork may be eaten. These should be killed according to Sikh rites (Chattaka). Many Sikhs are vegetarian.

9. Hair Care for Young People of African/Caribbean Descent

Keep hair and scalp clean, wash hair weekly but remember that excessive washing will dry out natural oils, causing hair to become dull looking.

Hair and scalp should be creamed or oiled moderately. Dry hair becomes brittle and would normally break due to lack of oiling and creaming. Combing will help to distribute natural oils evenly through the strands of hair. Oil or cream should be applied generously after washing, but as required every one or two days after washing. Although cream or oil should be applied generously it is more useful if hair is parted into two or four parts and then cream or oil applied to each part individually.

Tightly curled African hair will become unmanageable if it is not properly combed through regularly. Plaiting, as well as proper diet, and adequate oiling or creaming and washing, helps to keep hair in good condition and maintain growth.

Plaiting at night will allow the hair to remain manageable for the next morning.

When washing hair use a shampoo which leaves the hair moist and comb hair through thoroughly before and after each washing. It is often better to use a shampoo which contains conditioner. If using a hair dryer after washing do not use a very hot temperature to dry hair, as it will straighten hair and cause it to break very easily.