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“Giving every individual the chance to achieve their potential, free from prejudice and discrimination”

Equality, diversity and inclusivity in Shared Lives

In this article which first appeared in Sharing magazine March 2021, Shared Lives Plus Trustee, Maxine Palmer, explores the concepts of equality and diversity and explains her new role as the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity champion lead.

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“I am excited to announce that I will be taking on a new role within the Shared Lives Plus  board as equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) lead, alongside my current role as Trustee and Shared Lives carer.  My career in education and health and Social Care has spanned over 24 years. This has afforded me the experience to work and live with a mix of citizens who come under the term “displayed protected characteristics” and advocate for their equal rights. These characteristics include age, disability, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, and marriage or civil partnership status.

“Equality, diversity and inclusivity” is a term used in the United Kingdom to define and champion equality, diversity and human rights as defining values of society. It promotes equality of opportunity for all, giving every individual the chance to achieve their potential, free from prejudice and discrimination. Diversity means recognising, respecting and celebrating each other’s differences.

It is refreshing to see that Shared Lives Plus are taking an active role in incorporating EDI across all levels of our work, especially with the creation of the EDI action group and offering training to all staff. This will bring together and engage people from all levels of the organization and Shared Lives Plus members, so we can work together to build a strong, diverse and inclusive organization. My vision is that this work will instill a passion for equality and diversity that’s contagious and shared throughout the organization and the Shared Lives network.

The importance of having a culture that embraces diversity and inclusion is that it plays a huge role in building confidence in the organization and network. It allows for a larger platform for innovation, creativity and a variety of perspectives. This will enable people to feel that they are in a safe place to be themselves and enhance the well-being of all.

To do this effectively in practice, we must adapt all policies and procedures to promote EDI and we have to ensure that they are reviewed regularly. The people in our organisation should act as role models, leading by example whatever their role. We will achieve best practice by training everyone to the expected standards, and make sure our work settings fully incorporate those standards.  We must create an environment where discrimination is challenged and ensure that processes are in place for dealing with it where it does occur.

My hopes in the role are that our EDI work will promote knowledge and strive to provide a comfortable, supportive, and inspiring atmosphere where we are all treated with empathy,  where we feel included, heard, and understood and know that our voice matters.

Read more about our work on equality and diversity across our network