Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), a leading provider of mental health and disability services, is supporting Disability Pride Month.
Disability Pride Month, which takes place every July, aims to change the way people think about and define disability. It seeks to end the stigma of disability and promote the belief that disability is a natural part of human diversity.
The month can mean different things to each person in the disabled community. For some, it is a time to celebrate individual success and accomplishments. For others, it is an opportunity to feel proud to be disabled.
Disability Pride Month encourages people to unapologetically be themselves without having to fear making others uncomfortable or feeling they have to hide for the comfort of others.
It is about starting conversations and raising awareness of disabilities.
CNTW is committed to recognising the talents of all of our people and, as part of this, supporting people with a disability to be valued, recognised, supported and to reach their full potential in our organisation.
We want our teams to proudly reflect our communities. Disability Pride Month gives us an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come, and how much more work we need to do. We are delighted to play an active part in celebrating our disabled community.James DuncanChief Executive
It’s been an interesting journey for me and I’m now at the stage where I’m proud to fully accept myself as I am, which includes all the disabilities I have.
I do feel it’s important for us to all be part of the disability conversation and help change the narrative about being disabled in society and in the workplace. Let’s celebrate the disabled talent we have in CNTW.Mary LavenderAdvanced Speech and Language Therapist and Co-Chair of the Trust's Disabled Staff Network
Being dyspraxic (DCD), it is much easier to achieve things and deliver the standard of work I’m capable of in an environment where I’m encouraged to be open about my learning and working preferences to enable me to bring my best self to work. I never really identified as ‘disabled’; however, I now understand the importance of declaring a long term condition so that my employer is given the opportunity to support me.Louise SaundersWorkforce & OD Officer
It is a brilliant time knowing a network exists for those living with disabilities. It is important for there to be a protected space that allows us all to see difference not disorder, and ability rather than disability. We all deserve to feel we can contribute and being supported at work is an important part of this.Dr Jake HutchinsonSenior Clinical Psychologist
In his book ‘Avoiding Anxiety in Autistic Adults’ Dr Luke Beardon says “Just because my goose doesn’t quack does not make it an impaired duck. Just because my duck can’t hiss does not make it a goose with a deficit”.
I personally believe that strength lies in difference. Most of us come to the network meetings with our vulnerabilities, experiences of negativity and prejudice. And yet, each meeting is a show of strength because we validate each person’s experience. However different they may be.
The society need to re-evaluate the concept of disability and stop focusing on what people can’t or are not able to do. To go back to Dr Beardon’s quote, geese don’t quack, and ducks don’t hiss, but the world would be so boring if we didn’t have both.Justyna Walecka-BoweryLearning Disability and Autism Lead Trainer
I was born with dyslexia, then in my teenage years I had depression and now as an adult I am recovering from a stroke. I no longer feel the need to hide all that I am.
I look back on past experiences of discrimination at school or work feeling voiceless and isolated. I’m so grateful that I work in an organisation that supports difference and diversity. The staff networks provide a safe space to support each other, raise issues and help fix situations.
It’s often a slow process but slow is better than non-existent and the combined voice of our network helps to put equality on the agenda and keep it there. So, if you are disabled speak out and join the network so they can speak out for all of us. If you come across a system that puts barriers in your way don’t shrug and accept it. So many things don’t change because the people creating them don’t know how they impact. That’s the strength of a staff network.Lisa JenkinsonSenior Library Assistant
CNTW’s Disabled Staff Network aims to create a fair and diverse workplace. The network actively engages and contributes towards ensuring equality, acceptance and inclusion within the Trust.
The network aims to promote a work environment in which all staff feel supported, valued and able to be themselves. They work to challenge discrimination and positively promote equality for staff and service users.