"Happy Pride Month to all of The Yard’s LGBTQI+ members, supporters, staff and volunteers! As an organisation, we are dedicated to supporting and celebrating our LGBTQI+ community. We are continually looking at ways we can be more inclusive of this community, building on the work we did to achieve our LGBT Charter Bronze Award, which you can read about in an earlier blog.

We wanted to use this opportunity to tell you about our Diversity and Inclusion working group, which has been running for just under a year now. We formed this group because we know we have lots of work to do in order to make The Yard a truly inclusive place for families, staff, volunteers and supporters from all communities and backgrounds, including the LGBTQI+ community. The working group is made up of staff from across the organisation, with representatives from all sites and teams. We meet every two months, with smaller meetings about specific topics occurring in between.

The group exists to ensure The Yard considers diversity and inclusion from all angles. We seek to ensure The Yard is open and welcoming to all people, regardless of any characteristics or experiences, that we embrace the diversity of our wider society, and that we truly embed diversity and inclusion within our culture and across the organisation. In the short term, it is all about openly discussing diversity and inclusion, and starting to problem-solve and propose changes based on these conversations. Our long-term aim is quite large and ambitious, but we want to embed inclusion into our culture and all aspects of The Yard, creating an organisation where a diverse team can thrive.

When forming this group, we had open conversations about what we have got wrong in the past and areas in which we need to improve, for example, our recruitment and induction processes, and reaching families from ethnic minority groups. The group also initially discussed what the concepts ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ mean to us, as well as how to create genuine change at The Yard without being tokenistic or insincere. Not only do we want to ensure our community of families, staff and volunteers reflects the diverse society we live in, we also want to work on creating an inclusive environment and provide the necessary, specific support for groups once they are at The Yard. We have always been proud of our inclusion of disabled children, young people and their families, but we need to extend this inclusion further. Below are some of our definitions of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ on our virtual whiteboard from one of our meetings.

These conversations led us to agree our main priority areas to tackle as a group and as an organisation.

  • Family support
  • Internal inclusion
  • Communications
  • Recruitment
  • Mental health

Recently, we have been working on recruitment and have made various concrete changes to ensure our processes are more inclusive. For example, from now on, all of our job postings will involve a standardised application form instead of CVs, where relevant we will value life and volunteering experience at the same level as formal qualifications such as degrees, we will advertise our jobs with a range of organisations to ensure we are reaching diverse communities, we will train all of our hiring managers in inclusive recruitment practices and more. We have also been working on digital inclusion, which is especially relevant at the moment whilst we continue to deliver some of our services online.

Going forward, we will next be looking at our family support from a diversity and inclusion perspective, as well as our induction process for new staff, volunteers and Board members. Our staff team will also be taking part in training courses on topics such as anti-racism."

We are always open to your suggestions, comments and ideas. If you would like to get in touch about diversity and inclusion, please email Ellen.