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Staff recognised for helping create inclusive culture for staff and patients

Members of staff marching in a pride event

A group of Swansea Bay staff have been recognised for using their own resources to help encourage an inclusive culture within the health board.

The Calon LGBT+ and Allies Network is a self-organised group of dedicated staff who give their own time and resources to foster a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion throughout the organisation.

One of the group’s main goals is to increase the visibility of LGBT+ individuals so both staff and patients feel safe to be themselves when going to work or accessing services.

Pictured: Calon members marching at Swansea Pride.

The network, which was set up in 2016, regularly circulates information and advice to staff members signed up to a mailing list and can signpost them to services for support if needed.

While outside of work, Calon members represent the network at community events to demonstrate Swansea Bay’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Robert Workman, the health board’s Deputy Head of Occupational Therapy and chairman of Calon, said: “We are an LGBT+ and allies network because we don't limit ourselves to people who identify as LGBT+. It can be anybody who is interested in being involved in increasing diversity, equality and belonging.

“Everything is done voluntarily. We don’t have a budget or protected time – it relies very much either on people doing it in their own time or having supportive colleagues that are able to allow people some time as part of their personal development.

“We have a membership that anybody can access and they can be put on the mailing list to be kept up to date with what we’re doing.

“We use the circulation list to share any information, opportunities or events that arise. People can then be proactive and choose what they want to engage with and how much they want to be involved.

“We have also been supported by Swansea Bay Health Charity to offer rainbow lanyards to staff, which quickly ran out, and are in the process of acquiring more thanks to the charity’s ongoing support.”

In recent years, group members have taken part in marches at annual Pride events held in Cardiff, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, joining forces with other health boards to represent NHS Wales as a whole.

They have also been present at various other LGBTQ+ events, giving their time to connect with members of the public to showcase what they do.

“We are there to show solidarity and to have some visibility for Calon to show people what we do,” Robert added.

Members of staff at the event

“These events run on weekends and evenings, with members giving up their time to engage with the public.

“We have had feedback from the public who have told us ‘it’s good to know the health board is considering equality and diversity’ and referenced being able to feel safe when they access health services and that they can be open and honest.

“People can get nervous about accessing healthcare. If people come in and don’t share all aspects of themselves with us, it can have an impact on the care they have and how they feel as it can increase anxiety.”

Pictured: Staff at the Living Our Values Awards.

The network’s commitment to encouraging an inclusive culture was recently recognised at the health board’s Living Our Values Awards after being shortlisted for the Excellence in Equality & Inclusion Award.

The annual event celebrates health board staff who have gone above and beyond in delivering excellent care and services.

Robert said: “It was wonderful to be shortlisted for this nomination alongside others who are doing so much to enhance patient and staff experience in the organisation.

“We aim to reflect the health board’s values of caring for each other, working together and always improving, on a wider scale, within Wales.

“Our message is one of inclusion, equity and diversity and it's about recognising that everyone's an individual and not making judgments or assumptions on that.

“It is important for us to have visibility for patients to feel safe and to see themselves reflected in the services that they're accessing.

“It is the same for staff too. People should be able to come to work to be themselves, to be feel safe and happy.

“Having networks like Calon helps to increase visibility so staff don’t feel as though they are on their own.”

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