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Equality, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

One year on – Our Equality, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (EDEI) journey so far…

In September 2021 we published our first EDEI statement on our website. Why? We wanted to acknowledge that systemic oppression exists in the charity sector; show our commitment to progressing EDEI at Connection Support, and be held accountable for making improvements.

As it is National Inclusion Week where the theme is ‘Time to Act: The Power of Now’, we felt it was the perfect time to update you on our progress. The work that has taken place since last September has helped us to better define what EDEI means within Connection Support – we are more aware and ready to move forward with a plan that we have created together. A plan that promotes best practices and is underpinned by our values.

Our vision for EDEI

  • To be a proactively inclusive organisation, free from discrimination, promoting equitable opportunities for all staff, volunteers and clients.
  • To ensure good EDEI practice is embedded in the workplace culture, and that everyone who interacts with Connection Support is valued, treated with respect, and has a positive experience.

How does this look and feel to us?

It means having a team of people across the whole organisation who represent the diverse communities we work in, learning and growing together and forming meaningful relationships. It’s about being better at what we do and more creative in an environment where everyone feels welcome and included, and their ideas and opinions are listened to and valued.

What we have been doing?

  • We have worked with EDEI experts The Diversity Trust to help us build a more accurate picture of our current practices and workplace culture. This collaborative project has resulted in several recommendations which have formed our EDEI Development Plan 22-24. (Summary plan will be available for staff to view on The Hive intranet)
  • The leadership team have committed to ACEVO Eight principles to address the diversity deficit in charity leadership. These commitments run through our EDEI Development plan.
  • EDI training at induction for all staff and volunteers when they join. Other training opportunities have included Everyday Inclusion and Unconscious Bias; Inclusion Training for Managers and Identity Awareness.
  • A Client Involvement and Volunteering (CIV) strategy (soon to be available on the The Hive intranet) has been developed to guide our work in these areas over the next three years. Strengthening volunteering and increasing our ability to meaningfully involve clients in our organisation is at the core of what we are doing.
  • We have worked with two Oxford University Interns, Cara and Dan, who have conducted research into ‘EDI among our volunteer workforce’ and ‘How client feedback is collected in an effective and meaningful way.’ These pieces of research have fed into our work.
  • Our pilot Peer Mentor service in Milton Keynes has trained its first mentors, where previous clients of our services are now helping others by using the knowledge of their own lived experience.
  • We are working with the Oxford Hub Trustee Placement Programme and LEAF to welcome people with lived experience to our Board of Trustees.

Actions moving forward:

  • Take forward the EDEI Development Plan 22-24. This is a living document that we will be working on, adding to, and reviewing quarterly over the next 24 months.
  • Develop the EDI champion roles. These roles, across the organisation, will help steer our work, promote positive practices, and hold the organisation accountable for actions on the development plan.
  • Increase opportunities for involvement, collaboration, and input from across the Connection Support Community.
  • Assess the EDEI training needs of our team members and provide appropriate training.
  • Progress the Peer Mentor service in Milton Keynes with the hope of expanding to other geographical areas of operation.
  • Create more opportunities to involve and hear the voices of our clients, ensuring these voices are at the front and centre of the way we shape and develop our services.
  • Keep challenging ourselves; reflecting, learning and growing together.

We believe all of the above is achievable. We will become a stronger organisation by being a more inclusive organisation – in our work together, with our partners, our clients, and the communities we work in.

We look forward to continuing our work together on this.

Chris Keating (CEO) & the Senior Leadership Team.

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