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Inclusion is a priority, says mental health trust at inaugural conference

Key to providing the best service to our community is to ensure that everyone feels valued, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) first Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Conference heard.

Delegates heard inspiring stories from people from a range of backgrounds highlighting the importance and benefits for organisations to be inclusive in their practices and embrace the differences of the people within our society – whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, race, religion, sexuality or lifestyle choices.

NSFT chief executive Julie Cave, addressing delegates at the Trinity Park venue in Ipswich on Friday (5 January), said: “We start this new year with a very positive attitude and a clear commitment to create a more engaged and inclusive organisation than ever before.

“The diversity of our workforce and people who access our services brings a richness of cultures and lifestyles to our organisation.

“Norfolk and Suffolk are becoming increasingly diverse and here at NSFT we recognise the strength that diversity brings to our organisation in delivering safe, caring and effective services to our community.

“This conference is about celebrating the achievements of our Trust and our staff while looking at how we can improve.”

The conference, whose theme was ‘sharing stories of inclusion’, featured renowned speakers, workshops, live scenarios and stories of people from diverse backgrounds.

It also featured the first Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Awards, which aimed to celebrate staff efforts in embracing equality and diversity to improve services and creating an inclusive working environment for all.

The two categories were: Improving Service Provision, and Creating an Inclusive Workplace.

Two teams won the award for Improving Service Provision: the Learning Disabilities team for their LGBT+SafePlace project, and the Spiritual and Pastoral Care team for their But I’m Not Religious initiative.

The innovative LGBT+SafePlace aims to provide a forum in the Lowestoft area where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people with learning disabilities can safely and openly discuss their sexuality and access the support they need.

But I’m Not Religious was set up to help staff understand the importance of spirituality and how they can cater for people who seek spiritual and pastoral care but who do not identify with a religion. This work is integral for our clinicians to recognise the importance of what gives meaning to the people they look after.

The award for Creating an Inclusive Workplace went to Norfolk Central for their effort to improve the diversity of their workforce. Norfolk Central includes clinical and non-clinical staff working in the community, the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment team and on dementia and psychiatric intensive care wards in and around Norwich.

Ravi Seenan, Head of Equalities and Engagement, said: “It is really encouraging to see that we are advancing along the road to inclusion.

“Our conference provided an overview to our staff and service users how critical inclusion is to our organisation.   

“The stories shared were both moving and inspiring and will hopefully encourage staff to take action in shaping an inclusive culture in all areas of our Trust.

“It was altogether a really positive event showing how we can all benefit by being compassionate towards one another.

“All the teams who entered the awards were recognised for the considerable effort they have put into embedding equality and diversity into their work. But we had to choose and the winning teams demonstrated how their innovative approach is making a difference to staff and those using our services.”

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