Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), is supporting a campaign calling on organisations to represent more people with visible differences like scarring, birthmarks and skin conditions.
Research by Changing Faces found that more than half of people said those with visible differences were regularly ignored by brands.
Their research also suggests hostility towards people with a visible difference is increasing. In 2019, only 34% said they have experienced hostile behaviour, such as staring and bullying, because of their visible difference. This figure increased to 49% in 2023.
In 2023, 49% of people with a visible difference said they have experienced hostile behaviour, such as staring and bullying, because of their visible difference .
The Pledge To Be Seen campaign aims to change this.
By signing the pledge, CNTW is committing to representing more people with a visible difference in the Trust’s communications materials.
The Trust has already started improving representation by ensuring images of staff with visible differences are used in CNTW’s social media job adverts.
Mary Lavender, an advanced speech and language therapist, initiated this change after raising the topic of representation of disabled employees with the Trust’s Inclusive Recruitment project team.
Disabled people are not just patients of the health service, we’re a key part of the workforce too. Our differences should be celebrated, not hidden away.Mary LavenderCNTW
Mary, who is the chair of CNTW’s Disabled Staff Network and an important advocate for disabled employees in the Trust, says: “Disabled people are not just patients of the health service, we’re a key part of the workforce too. Our differences should be celebrated, not hidden away.
“Around fifteen years ago I was part of a conversation about disabled people in the media and someone told me I could get a role in a horror film. People have also told me they’re scared of me when they first meet me because of the way I look.
“After these experiences, it’s great to see the Trust I work for being part of this important conversation and representing people with all disabilities and visible differences in job adverts.”
Although the pledge focuses on recognising people with visible differences, CNTW’s inclusive recruitment initiatives go beyond this and aim to ensure those with non-visible disabilities are both represented and supported throughout the recruitment processes.
Lynne Shaw, Director of Workforce and Organisation Development at CNTW, says: “We’re proud to be part of the Pledge To Be Seen this campaign.
“We strive to make CNTW an inclusive place to work and a crucial part of this is making sure our staff and service users see people who look like them in all of our communications materials.”
Find out more about the Pledge To Be Seen on the Changing Faces website.