The purpose of the Home Office Sikh Association is to act as a source of information regarding the Sikh religion and culture to the Home Office and its agencies, and take an active part in the following areas that may impact on Sikhs:
Equality Impact Assessments
Quality assurance of Home Office guidance and literature that provides information on Sikhs
Hold Sikhism awareness events across the Home Office to inform all colleagues about the Sikh faith
Improving relations & confidence between the Home Office and the Sikh community
Assist members with work related issues and concerns regarding their treatment as a direct result of their Sikh faith.
The Home Office Sikh Association (HOSA) was created after identifying policy formulation often failed to consider Sikh perspectives, with consequent risks. Through buy-in from external Sikh stakeholders, HO Diversity leads and board members, the Association was created in 2009. Subsequently, it led work to make departmental polices consider Sikh perspectives.
In particular we:
Outlined the potential discrimination of EU regulation on turban searches at airports. Acknowledging the high-level security requirements for airside airport access, we proposed an alternative approach, popular with the Sikh Community, that met security and Sikh religious requirements and initiated Home Office discussions with OGD partners to successfully agree to it. We then supported Border Force and port operators with the revised regulation’s implementation through training and guidance.
Led work to re implement the serving of traditional Sikh food at a Detention Centre following a ban-achieving a H&S and Sikhism compliant solution for the benefit of detainee welfare. This was in collaboration with Immigration Enforcement, Religious groups and Detention Centre leads.
Worked with policy teams to raise the profile of raise hate/Islamophobic crime against Sikhs and non-Sikhs and to encourage better reporting and ethnic monitoring of such crimes within police forces.
Worked with Border Force/IE/UKVI Uniform team to ensure that the uniform policy was compatible with needs of Sikh staff- something reflected in the policy.
Devised a policy on Sikh visitors entering HO buildings in collaboration with Corporate Security following issues raised by staff and visitors due to their visible articles of faith.
Worked with Ministerial Private Offices to support their community engagement. This included assisting the Home Secretary’s team with visits and speech writing.
Continue to act in an advisory capacity to OGD departments on Sikh matters, including the Prime Minister’s Faith Advisor.
Designed and delivered a schools out-reach course to support the Civil Service target of recruiting talented BAME staff by: identifying a school with a high BAME population and a socio-economic mix; achieving their buy-in; persuading a local Civil Service employer to participate in the programme; building a team to deliver the programme sessions offering them guidance and support. Student feedback was positive, and the programme was commended by the Cabinet Office Steering Group for enhancing the aim of achieving a diverse talented workforce.
We have continuously held regular high profile and highly attended programmes to celebrate key Sikh festivals with guests including the Home Secretaries and Permanent Secretaries.