Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee is currently made up of Jess, Karen and Nina from the SVC Board of Trustees, SVC staff member Frankie as well as previous SVC staff member and current EDI Officer for Innovate Trust, Eleri. It is their responsibility to take the lead in making SVC as inclusive as possible, which they do by meeting every 6 weeks to discuss EDI work and take action based on their discussions.
The EDI Committee is always welcome to any new members who are passionate about EDI and would like to share their views and help out with embedding change across the SVC community. We recently opened up the opportunity to our volunteers which could also be flexible in terms of time commitment, and we hope to run some drop-in or taster sessions for those who would like to know more. If you’re interested, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diversifying Our Volunteer Base
One of the focuses of our EDI committee over recent months has been to analyse our EDI data, that we collect from our volunteers and beneficiaries, to make sure we engage in targeted recruitment, so that communities which are currently under-represented are reached. We aim to ensure that we are supporting all areas of the community.
One of the ways we have been looking to diversify our volunteer base has been by discussing what we can do to recruit more volunteers who identify as male. One way that we promoted males in volunteering was through the celebration of International Men’s Day on 19 November. On this day, we put together an article on our website and posts on our social media page which aimed to educate about the stigma of male mental health and how volunteering can have a positive impact upon this. We also shared testimonials of some of our volunteers who identify as male, discussing what it is that they love about volunteering.
We are currently looking to update our volunteer statistics on our website in order to be more open about them and have total visibility of our current position.
Act Now For Equality
Since our last update, we’ve set up a new project called ‘Act Now For Equality’, in partnership with our sister charity Innovate Trust. The aim of this project is to develop 6 accessible training sessions and an EDI film that make EDI more understandable and relatable.
Once completed, the film can be used within our staff training as well as social media platforms, with the aim of educating the wider community and building awareness of EDI across the Third Sector.
So far, the project has run some powerful and eye-opening sessions, where personal experiences have been shared and volunteers have supported one another. Some of the topics have included:
What equality means to people. In this session, the group designed their own logo which represents what equality means to them. For example, they incorporated as many colours as possible to represent inclusion, the heart as a symbol for love, kindness and respect and the hands to represent diversity and support.
What it means to be treated unfairly. The group discussed discrimination, unfair treatment, what to do if you see this happening, and what rules in society would stop this happening in the future.
9 protected characteristics. The 9 protected characteristics are age, race, sex, disability, religion and belief, marriage and civil partnership, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, sexual orientation. So far, the group has had interactive discussions around age, race, sex, disability and religion and belief, where our diverse group of volunteers have opened up and shared their own stories, opinions, beliefs and experiences to educate others. The group also discussed how to include everyone and help them feel respected.
Topics that are still on the agenda for volunteers to discuss include:
The remaining protected characteristics: marriage and civil partnership, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity and sexual orientation.
Are we aware of our own attitudes?
How can we make everyone feel valued?
How could things be better?
Global Equality Collective (GEC) App
Our staff team have been regularly sharing GEC resources through a dedicated Microsoft Teams channel, and discussing them within team meetings. The main focus has been on inclusion, challenging issues of exclusionary or offensive behaviour, and using inclusive language.
Some of the specific topics that have been discussed include:
‘Inclusive Language in the Workplace’
‘Values That Work’
‘What You Need To Know About Unconscious Bias’
‘Disability Inclusion And Anti-Abilism For The Workplace’
‘Get Into The Mind Of Inclusive Language’, found in ‘An Ally’s Guide To Inclusive Language’
‘Confidence In Conversations’
‘LGBTQ+ Inclusion In The Workplace’
The team has been using these discussions to drive change across our organisation. For example, following on from the ‘Inclusive Language in the Workplace’ and ‘Get Into The Mind Of Inclusive Language’ discussions, the team has been reviewing the language we use on our website, social media posts and in-person conversations, making sure that we use gender inclusive, anti-racist, anti-ableist and LGBTQ+ inclusive language within our communications. We’ve also reviewed a number of our policies with this in mind too.
Accessibility in our Communication
Following on from the above, we have also updated our accessibility information about projects, venues and events on the SVC website to make sure that we're as inclusive as possible for those with additional needs or requirements. We also updated our application process to make it clear to volunteers that any reasonable adjustments can be discussed and that there is additional support available from SVC if requested or needed.
To help with accessibility, we also made some amendments to our quarterly newsletter which is sent out through email. Not only did we make some adjustments to ensure the email was more readable for those with additional needs (e.g. larger text, yellow background, more images and less text heavy), but we also produced a video version with narration for those who would rather listen than read our updates. Our aim in future is to add these to the website alongside our written versions so that everyone can stay up-to-date with the ongoings of SVC.
Volunteer EDI Training
Eleri, Innovate Trust’s EDI Officer, has put together some EDI and Bystander Training which can be utilised by SVC’s volunteers and beneficiaries. Our SVC staff team has also produced some project-specific scenarios to explore what volunteers could do and how they should respond in certain situations. This training has now been used in some of the new 2022 projects when preparing volunteers for their roles, making sure that those who represent SVC understand our values as a charity and can fully embody them both when volunteering with us and also in their personal lives.
On top of this, we have also delivered free training sessions for SVC staff, trustees and volunteers:
Introduction to Equality, Diversity & Inclusion delivered by Karen Harvey-Cooke (a member of our Board of Trustees) during our Winter Giving Week.
Dementia Friends Training – raising awareness and understanding about dementia so people can use this to help those around them and within their community who may be affected by dementia.
Started a 12 month course of British Sign Language Training with Deaf Friendly Business Solutions.
National Awareness Days
We recently celebrated Earth Day in April. With this year’s theme being 'Invest In Our Planet’ we wanted to focus on inspiring the community to get involved with efforts to save our planet. To do this, we shared some of our top tips on energy conservation, hosted a social media quiz about acting in the interests of the environment and created a video highlighting how SVC staff and volunteers have been taking action. It was enlightening to hear the ways in which our community members have been adapting their actions to become more eco-friendly. We also asked our social media followers to share their tips and ideas on sustaining the environment and saving energy. Here are some of the little things we do that you can do too:
Down Syndrome Day
Down Syndrome Day is an annual international celebration that began in 2006. We celebrate this day each year in order to raise awareness for those with Down Syndrome and advocate for their rights, wellbeing and inclusion throughout all areas of life. The focus this year was ‘inclusion’ and what it means to different individuals. It was a fantastic opportunity to find out from the SVC and wider community, what inclusion really means in a personal sense. You can read more about this year’s celebration here.
International Women’s Day
ANFE volunteers celebrated International Women’s Day with Chwarae Teg and Tramshed Tech. We listened to a thought-provoking presentation by the CEO of Chwarae Teg, enjoyed a gender-equality quiz, and had the opportunity to network with others as we celebrated inspirational women in business and tech.
International Wheelchair Day
Creative workshop where some of the Innovate Trust service users who use wheelchairs took part in a creative workshop prior to the event to make flags and decorate their wheelchairs to show wheelchair pride.
Accessible parade around Bute Park and Pontcanna Fields. It was wonderful to be joined by staff, beneficiaries, volunteers and friends of SVC flying our wonderful decorations to celebrate the positive impact that wheelchairs have on people’s lives.
LGBTQ+ History Month
LGBTQ+ History Month is commonly celebrated in the US in October, but here in the UK we celebrate in February to coincide with the abolition of Section 28 - a policy that prohibited the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality. The theme this year was ‘Politics in Art’ due to the historic value of art as an expression of emotion and representation of the struggles LGBTQ+ communities face. To highlight the importance of this month, we created a short video addressing issues the LGBTQ+ community face as well as providing some simple ways our wider community can get involved. Creating the video was a fantastic opportunity for the SVC team to educate ourselves and share this knowledge with our wider community. Watch here.
Transgender Awareness Week / Transgender Remembrance Day
Transgender Awareness Week is celebrated to raise awareness and visibility of Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, whilst recognising current and past issues of transphobia. The week concludes with Transgender Remembrance Day which is a crucial commemoration in light of the ongoing transphobia which persists on a global scale. Although Britain is acknowledged for its progressive nature, there are still vast cases of violent and harmful behaviour toward Transgender individuals. SVC acknowledges the need for society’s further education in order to fight back against transphobia. This year, we created educational social media posts to help others understand the importance of raising awareness, in honour of all those who lost their lives to acts of transphobia.