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Research shows barriers faced by ‘most discriminated against’ groups

Many of the most vulnerable and discriminated against groups in Wales feel they are unable to seek help or complain when faced with discrimination because of negative attitudes and perceptions.

That’s the findings of qualitative research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission which was published in Newport today.

The research follows on from a 2008 report by the Commission which sought to identify groups of people in Wales most likely to face discrimination in their day-to-day lives.

Not just another statistic looks into the lives of Wales’ ‘most discriminated against’ groups, those living with a mental health condition, Gypsies and travellers, transgender people and asylum seekers or refugees.

Problems in the workplace, the community, the family and negative portrayals in the media are some the main issues uncovered in the anecdotal research with people in these groups also finding it difficult to engage with and seek assistance from services from the health service, local councils and the police.

Kate Bennett, National Director for Wales, Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Our research shows how not being allowed to be `yourself’ forces people to live hidden lives.

“Many people are unable to access rights, justice and make complaints.”

People who took part in the research talked about a range of issues including workplace bullying and difficulties accessing services or seeking legal advice.

A transgender person told the survey they were uncomfortable making an official complaint after being bullied in the work place because the thought of a potentially hostile lawyer and an employment tribunal made them made them feel even more vulnerable.

While a participant suffering with a mental health problem told researchers about the difficulties faced accessing NHS and DWP services:

“I had a ridiculous conversation with them on the phone saying `I am agoraphobic, I can’t get to you, could I have a visit?’ and they won’t do it.”

However Ms. Bennett said the Commission’s findings were not completely negative:

“Despite the problems and challenges, people are keen to find solutions and suggest steps to give everyone a fairer chance.”

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