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Image Kevin Dunion standing under a crossroads sign pointing to refuse/release/openness/secrecyFreedom of information roadshow heads to Dumfries & Galloway

10 June 2011

On Tuesday 21 June voluntary organisations, campaign groups and members of the public from across Dumfries and Galloway are being invited to attend a roadshow to find out how freedom of information (FOI) could help make a difference to their own activity. The free event, which is being organised by The Bridge Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Information Commissioner, will tell people how they can best use the FOI "right to information", while also providing real-life examples where it has been successfully used in the past - whether it be to help prevent the closure of a service, to campaign for a new service, or uncover the reasoning behind a funding decision.

The roadshow, which will be held in both Castle Douglas and Dumfries, comes in the wake of research which found that there were lower levels of awareness of the FOI right in Dumfries and Galloway. Only 25% of Dumfries and Galloway respondents to a 2009 survey correctly identifying that FOI provides a right to see general information held by public authorities, compared to 37% nationally. June's roadshow will ensure that local people have the skills they need to use FOI effectively, while also highlighting the positive use of FOI by voluntary organisations and campaigners across Scotland.

Announcing the event, Scottish Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion ? who is responsible for promoting and enforcing FOI in Scotland - said:

"Over the last few years FOI has helped people to campaign successfully on a whole range of issues, from services for the disabled to school closures to hospital cleanliness. The beauty of FOI is that it is so simple to use: anyone can make a request - all you have to do is write to the public authority. These workshops will give voluntary organisations and campaigners in Dumfries and Galloway the skills to get the most out of their FOI requests. FOI can be an extremely important resource for people and, as we'll hear at this event, can sometimes make the difference between the success or failure of a campaign."

Joyce Harkness, Chief Executive of The Bridge Dumfries & Galloway, added:

"We are delighted to be able to promote and support the roadshow. Voluntary organisations can use FOI to gather information on good practice, identify gaps in service and provide information for their members and stakeholders to lobby for their cause. We hope voluntary organisations and others will take the opportunity to find out more on 21 June."

The free workshops will take place between 10:00 and 12:00 at the Castle Douglas Community Centre in Castle Douglas, and between 13:30 and 15:30 at the Holywood Trust in Dumfries.

The Dumfries workshop will be followed by the opportunity to book a one-to-one advice session with the Commissioner's staff, to discuss any issue relating to FOI use. The Commissioner's staff will be available at the Holywood Trust between 15:45 to 17:00 on Tuesday 21 June, and any interested person is invited to call to book a 20-minute session.

To book a place on the workshop, or to arrange a one-to-one session, contact the Scottish Information Commissioner's staff on 01334 464610, or email enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info.

 

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