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SVC’S EQUALITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION BLOG - UPDATE 5

Zero Tolerance Policy to Racism

Since the last update, we’ve signed Zero Racism Wales’ pledge for a zero-tolerance approach to racism in Wales. Our pledge can be seen on the Zero Racism Wales website here. In short, we have committed to standing against racism, opposing racism in all forms and have committed to promoting equal and fair opportunities for people from diverse ethnic backgrounds. This applies to all areas of our activity, including those affecting our staff, beneficiaries and our volunteers. 

We’ve also committed to monitoring equality and diversity, including through recruitment, complaints and resignations or withdrawals. This helps to identify whether everyone is being treated fairly and equally. As a result, we’ve updated the EDI statistics on our website so that we’re properly monitoring the demographics of our volunteer base. We’ve also drafted a new SVC ‘Leavers Survey’ to send to volunteers when they finish a project to find out their reason for leaving, and to make sure that in the unfortunate situation of any harassment, discrimination or bullying, this is properly reported and handled effectively. 

We created our own Zero Tolerance Policy to Racism in Wales, following Zero Racism Wales and Race Council Cymru's policy structure. This outlines our intentions for promoting race equality and to take a stand against racism in all of its forms. It can be found in the ‘Policies and Procedures’ section of our website for all visitors to our site to see and for us to be held accountable against.

Global Equality Collective App 

We have recently been awarded a distinction in the 2021 Global Equality Collective (GEC) assessment, and are fortunate enough to be one of only two organisations to ever achieve a distinction! 

GEC is dedicated to helping measure progress towards gender equality and inclusion in the workplace. The GEC app is a useful digital benchmarking tool, available to our staff team. It offers EDI training resources, and is becoming increasingly involved in all aspects of equality and inclusion. We look forward to using the tool within our community. For more information on the GEC app, see here

Transport Policy Update

In response to the Sarah Everard case, we’ve updated our transport policy to increase safety measures for our volunteers. These new measures mean that all SVC members will be reimbursed for public transport costs whilst travelling for volunteering purposes with SVC, and that taxis can be used in some situations, for example: if there’s an emergency, if it’s dark outside or late at night, or if you’re volunteering on your own and feel safer getting a taxi. We also recommend that if you’re getting in a taxi, it would be safer to share your location with SVC staff, other volunteers or friends. For the full details, our updated transport policy can be found here, or under the ‘Policies and Procedures’ section of our website. 

Training Updates 

As part of our focus on Deaf Awareness Week, SVC organised Deaf Awareness training through the RNID, for members of our community, as well as our staff, Board members and volunteers. We attended a webinar with RNID in April, including 15 members of our staff, Board and volunteers which focused on hearing loss and tinnitus. We’ve also promoted RNID’s digital communication cards that gives individuals the opportunity to input their name, describe a bit about themselves and outline their communication needs. These are a great tool for diverse communication, find out more here.

In celebration of Skilled Volunteering Day, SVC also attended an Introduction to British Sign Language course hosted by Deaf Friendly Business Solutions, which was open to our staff, Board, volunteers and beneficiaries. We had 17 wonderful participants, and were lucky enough to record the session and share it with our SVC community members who were unable to attend. Our fantastic trainers taught us how to introduce ourselves, ask basic questions, express feelings and ask about them, as well as introducing us to simple sentences and expressions which will be useful at our projects. The training was invaluable for our staff, and encourages us to become even more proficient in our use of sign language. We hope to attend further training in the future in order to ensure our projects can be open to those of all hearing abilities, with volunteers and staff who can communicate diversely.

Also, for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which focuses on digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities and impairments, the SVC staff team attended the Festival of Accessibility delivered by Texthelp. This event discussed creating accessible websites, social media posts and videos to help boost inclusion and make sure that everyone is able to understand the content. We are currently looking at ways to adapt our website and online content in order to make it more accessible. A huge thank you to Texthelp for organising the event and providing such valuable information!

We haven’t only been going to external training, we’re also starting to work on adapting SVC training to include equality and diversity topics for our volunteers, beneficiaries and Board, making sure that we promote EDI values as much as possible and that those who represent SVC through volunteering also have the knowledge to also encourage equality and inclusion, both in their role with SVC and in their daily life outside of SVC. 

Raising Awareness 

Following discussions from our EDI working group, we’ve been celebrating a range of awareness days, weeks and months on social media, with the aim of increasing understanding and awareness as well as celebrating the work we do as a charity. 

Some of the things we’ve celebrated on social media include Carers Week, where we posted quotes and pictures from our Young Carers Club project supporting carers under 18, World Down Syndrome Day where we posted a ‘What is Down Syndrome’ video to help educate people as well as a lovely quote from one of our volunteers from our LOL project, and of course National Volunteers Week, where we promoted the amazing work all of our volunteers do, along with quotes and video testimonials throughout the week. 

Also on social media, we shared artwork created for us by one of our amazing volunteers, Cerys-Elen John. The image celebrates hidden disabilities and brings awareness to conditions that aren’t always seen, and promotes the fact that disabilities aren’t definitive aspects of the self. Cerys' image highlights the versatility of individuals within our community, and the inclusivity that we strive to achieve.

We asked Cerys to comment on the artwork: 

''This illustration was inspired by the easing of the first lockdown restrictions and the ability to socialise with friends and family safely again. Whilst illustrating this image, it was very important that I focused on depicting the social aspect, showing the subjects catching up with loved ones who they have not seen physically in months as a result of the pandemic. My aim was to display disabilities in a positive light, and hopefully the viewers see this. Often people with disabilities can be depicted in a negative light, whereas I was hoping that the disabilities of the subjects would not be the main focus of the image, but rather the sense of community that is depicted would take center stage. In addition to this, the sunflower lanyard has been a symbol for hidden disabilities throughout the pandemic, therefore I thought it fitting to surround the subjects with them in their environment.

A massive thank you to SVC for the opportunity and for allowing me to take creative control! And also a big thank you to the initial feedback group who gave such positive responses.”

Everyone at SVC would like to say a massive thank you to Cerys for making such beautiful and inclusive illustrations for SVC. We look forward to showing you more of Cerys’ illustrations soon.