Following SVC’s ongoing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) work around the Global Equality Collective (GEC) app and our staff’s commitment to meet and discuss EDI resources (read more about this here), our staff team recently met to discuss two of these resources – ‘Values that Work’ and ‘Inclusive Language in the Workplace’.
Following this, they completed an exercise that was suggested in the values resource: “Bring together a small team from across your organisation to write your company values”.
The exercise asked to focus on the following:
What are we doing?
Why is this worth doing?
What is the end goal?
How will we measure success?
The team came up with many important points which we wanted to share with our wider community, not only to showcase the work we’ve been doing but also to highlight our direction as a charity and keep a clear record of our goals, which we can always refer back to and be held accountable against.
What Are We Doing?
Our volunteering projects cover many areas across South Wales and work with the homeless, children and young people, those with disabilities and the environment. We aim to provide activities and support for all individuals and are concentrating on the importance of inclusivity within our community.
Under the Equality Act of 2010, we wish to remain vigilant to any discrimination that might occur in order to maintain an atmosphere of safety and non-judgement within our projects. We have a specific problem-solving procedure in place, that is shared with our beneficiaries and wider community, if the unfortunate case of discrimination or mistreatment was to arise. It is our first priority to ensure that standards of total equality are met and that we protect our beneficiaries, respecting their concerns and acting on them.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
This year we have increased our EDI transparency, you can view our commitments on our website and read more about what we’ve been doing to be even more inclusive.We have set up EDI roles within our Board of Trustees to ensure we continue having honest and candid conversations that lead to substantial action and change within our staff and Trustee teams. Since setting up this role, EDI has been on the agenda of every board meeting.
One of our main discussions has been reaching out to more marginalised groups, with the aim of involving more demographically diverse groups. We have also been promoting initiatives, campaigns and policy changes to aid our EDI development and spreading the word to raise awareness. We have made use of our social media platforms to share EDI resources and places to donate (for those who are able to do so).
We have even extended our EDI work to our beneficiaires, and most recently have launched an ‘Act Now for Equality’ project. This will involve researching, planning and delivering six accessible training sessions with the aim of making EDI relatable, understanding unconscious bias and the importance of inclusion. As part of our continual development, we’d like to strongly urge any of the SVC or local community to contact the SVC Board of Trustees if they have suggestions or concerns and we pledge to treat these with the attention and respect they deserve!
SVC is dedicated to taking environmental action! We are aiming to reduce our carbon emissions and seek more environmentally-friendly solutions to everyday tasks. We also wish to improve education and signpost to more eco-friendly ways of working and living. To do so, we have set up a devoted committee who focus on improving our environmental practises.
We are currently striving to use LED lighting in our offices, work towards a paperless future and aim to decrease the emissions of CO2s by using only the most environmentally-friendly forms of transport. Our staff have also engaged in making smaller changes around the office to contribute to our current work, by switching off all appliances at the end of the day, unplugging chargers when they’re not in use and a collective meat-free day each week we hope to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible. We’ve also been collecting our hard-to-recycle items to drop off at Terracycle - an innovative recycling company that has become a global leader in recycling typically difficult-to-recycle waste.
We recognize the need to deal with issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, food and water shortages, weather events and damage to natural ecology and wish to implement as many changes as we can no matter how big or small their impact will be. Our staff and trustees are continually working to educate themselves and our community on the most environmentally-friendly ways of living as we work to ensure our actions have a positive impact on the ecosystem.
We are always working toward a more diverse and inclusive environment here at SVC. We recently began collecting information on the demographics of our community to highlight the areas we need to focus a little harder on. We’ll use this information to help us reach out to any groups of individuals that might be underrepresented within our existing staff and volunteer base. We have found that some ethnic groups are less represented within our team, as well as having a smaller number of male volunteers and staff compared to females.
To help us reach out to these groups, we have started looking at ways in which we can expand the reach of our social media platforms to increase our inclusivity. In collaboration with International Men’s Day in November, we concentrated on reaching out to the male community and hoped to involve a more diversely gendered group of volunteers within our projects. We hoped to achieve this by sharing information, demographics and fun facts about volunteering (aimed at men), and by celebrating International Men’s Day across our platforms.
We want to ensure we have a fully representative and inclusive community to work alongside us on our projects, especially when working with the community. We are currently working on outreach projects that offer support within the local area, these include a partnership with South Wales Police, gardening & environmentally friendly initiatives as well as equality projects focusing on education and awareness. We also partner with some fantastic organisations such as Food for Life Cymru and EYST Tuition to provide support and practical help. Visit our website for more details on how you can get involved in your community.
Due to the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, SVC became even more concerned with issues of accessibility and wanted to ensure that our beneficiaries could still access the support we provide. When government restrictions were applied, online opportunities became more widely spread throughout our services. We now offer several partner-projects that take place digitally, rather than face-to-face, not only to ensure the safety of our community but also to amplify access for those who might not be able to attend in-person sessions due to illness, mobility or various other reasons.
Some of our projects include video calls, which may require camera access, but others take place through audio calling and you can even attend simply to watch. We offer a befriending service for adults with disabilities or mental health conditions, quizzes and karaoke as well as social and tuition clubs. You can find out more about these on our website. Many of these digital projects take place in partnership with some other fantastic organisations and give us the opportunity to provide an accessible and diverse array of projects for our beneficiaires.
We even recently launched a new project ‘Digital Mentors’, which is run in partnership with Innovate Trust and local councils, to provide digital support for adults with learning disabilities. This support will be provided through a befriending project, with a focus on building digital confidence. We’re recruiting for this project currently, so if you’re interested and you have a basic knowledge of digital skills, contact G.Piddington@svcymru.org for more information.
Why Is This Worth Doing?
Giving Back & Bringing the Community Together
Our community continues to contribute the hard work that is necessary and support us in providing accessible services to as many individuals as possible. Here at SVC we truly see the value in giving a little, and gaining a lot! The smallest actions can often be the most meaningful, and when it comes to helping out our local communities, there’s a lot we can do. We also continually strive to provide valuable development opportunities to both our beneficiaries and volunteers, in hopes of making life just that little bit easier. We feel the best way to ensure we are providing the most inclusive and accessible services possible involves evaluating what we’re already doing and always looking for ways to improve.
Identifying Issues/Needs in the Community and Doing Something About It
As a charity that supports vulnerable people we also know that differences are not always respected in the way that they should be. That’s why here at SVC we wish to provide the extra care and attention that needs to be paid to ensure everyone is treated as they deserve. We know that the power of our communities comes from diversity and difference, so we continually reflect on our work and what more we can do to best support our local community whilst making certain EDI is at the core of our actions.
What is the End Goal?
At SVC there is no end goal, we see our work as ongoing and hope to continually develop as a charity to have a grand outreach and array of opportunities. We will continue to move with the times, determine gaps in the support we provide and adapt, improve and extend our services accordingly. We also hope to sustain the expansion of our community, which for us involves ever-growing diversity and inclusivity. Our staff and team are always open to suggestions from the community, and continue to reassess our ways of working to ensure we are doing the best we can!
Enhance the Lives of People We Support As Much As We Can
Our key focus is on enhancing the lives of people we support, whether that be volunteers, beneficiaries or friends of our community. In order to do so, we continue to emphasise issues of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion with regards to age, race, disability, sexuality and any other factors which may be discriminated against in the wider world. That’s why at SVC we strive to maintain the protection of the nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act (2010), with a focus on the modern-day intersectionalities and self-definitions. Equally, our projects work to provide beneficiaries with an increased sense of happiness, involvement and cohesion within the community. Each of our projects aim to generate positivity and togetherness for the individuals we support, and we hope that this feeling extends to our staff and volunteer teams too. We recently raised awareness about the benefits of volunteering, in hopes of providing some information on the benefits of helping others, hence our motto ‘Give a little, gain a lot!’.
Support a More Equal, Inclusive, Greener Community
This year we have increased our focus on the environment. Alongside the work mentioned earlier in this article, we recently set up an Environmental Committee. The members of this committee meet monthly to discuss how we can become more environmentally-friendly and spend time researching and educating themselves on emissions and the ecosystem. We also initiated a new environment focused project, ‘Going Green Together’, in partnership with Innovate Trust. This project aims to connect members of the community and assist them in collaborating on environmentally-friendly activities (both online and in-person). Click here to get involved!
Give People A Sense of Purpose and Meaning
Volunteering has been shown to be hugely beneficial for wellbeing and mental health, allowing people to take a break from their often busy schedules and do something they are passionate about, and with a purpose they believe in. Acting as a part of your local community towards social goals can combat loneliness and provide meaning to life, acting as an important way of de-stressing or getting more out of your week.
Our projects allow people to collaborate with members of their community, as well as work more one-to-one depending on personal preference, and can focus around fun activities like quizzes, gardening, arts and crafts, karaoke and befriending - so there really is something for everyone.
How Will We Measure Success?
One way that we can measure success is through the quantitative data that we collect. We can look at data based on how many hours our volunteers are completing on various projects and use this as an indicator of how engaged they are within that project - if hours start to decline that would be a good reason to investigate if there are any issues. Similarly, we can look at the number of beneficiaries who are engaged with our projects and whether they remain engaged throughout the duration of the project. We can also look at our estimated volunteer value, which we report on in our annual report and also display on our website homepage. Our economic value is currently at £87,200, something we’re incredibly proud of as a charity.
We can also look at more qualitative data to measure our success. This can be from several groups including our volunteers, beneficiaries, staff team, Board of Trustees, and our partner organisations. It is important to measure whether people enjoy working with SVC, feel the value that we provide and see working with us as a positive experience - and similarly, what areas people think we can improve in. We can gather this through asking for testimonials and quotes, through feedback surveys as well as through more informal catch-ups.
Longevity of Partnerships
We currently run many projects in partnership with other organisations, with some of these including Children in Need, the NHS, and Innovate Trust. These partnerships forming and continuing to blossom year after year displays to us that these organisations see value in the work that we’re doing and believe we’re doing a good job at fulfilling our commitments to them.
Volunteers and Beneficiaries Coming Back Each Year
Finally, one of the best ways we would be able to see our success is if volunteers and beneficiaries come back to our projects year after year, showing they enjoy the projects and see a benefit in taking part. We often have volunteers who stay a part of the SVC family for many years, even moving up to take on more responsibility such as becoming a lead volunteer or a member of our Board, which displays to us that they are having a positive experience volunteering with us and believe in what we’re working towards.
On top of the work we’re currently doing, we always urge our community to share their thoughts and suggestions so that we can continue to improve. If you want to share some feedback, get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via our anonymous feedback form.