Part 1 Laura Patari a Technology-Enhanced Learning Officer in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Public Policy discusses how the SSPP TEL team works to boost staff understanding of digital accessibility baseline.
Part 2 provides an overview of the TEL training sessions available on the subject.
“the state of being an ally (= a person who helps and supports somebody) to a particular group of people that you yourself do not belong to, in order to help ensure their basic rights and ability to be happy and successful in society”- Oxford learner’s dictionary
What does digital accessibility mean to me? It means being able to embrace a platform for its intended use, because the people building it know how to create a great user experience – anticipating, rather than reacting to the needs of our diverse learning community. Being an ally.
At the moment, there is still room for improvement at King’s College London. The urgent relevance of focusing on digital accessibility as a King’s community cannot be stated better than it does in the recent Student Digital Accessibility Report from Miranda Melcher.
This report highlighted voices of 540 KCL students on both user experiences of KEATS, module organisation and assessment, as well as teaching and information practices. See a qualitative piece of feedback from SSPP and Arts & Hums students on using KEATS:
“It’s been really hard using KEATS. Each module lead is using it differently (e.g. interpreting headers differently), the design of it is not accessible and difficult to easily navigate, you have to jump across many different pages to get information needed, pages often don’t match up to the my timetable or teams invites, we don’t get notifications of questions on the forums and some lecturers are not responding quickly or at all on these, etc. Overall the design is just really not user friendly.” (shared by BA SSPP & BA Arts & Hums & SSPP MA students)
My takeaways from the wider report focused on the challenge that a lot of user experience issues are broad, making it difficult to make quick changes: we are talking about module level issues repeated across faculties. It’s a grassroot issue that spreads across fields. However, a connecting thread can be suggested as knowledge gaps on basics of digital accessibility.
How Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy (SSPP) TEL integrate Digital Accessibility to our information resources, training and wider strategy
In the next part of this blog I will discuss how the SSPP TEL team work to plug knowledge gaps and encourage early onboarding of SSPP colleagues to boost staff understanding of digital accessibility baseline.
Part 1: TEL Hubs
Over the past 6 months, the SSPP TEL team have rebuilt our Faculty Hub and TEL Hub. These pages act as faculty-level repositories of information aimed at staff and students. Including digital accessibility to these repositories was a core goal of the project. Below are some practical examples of how I embedded these to the faculty pages.
A dedicated section for digital accessibility was built in the TEL Hub. The section gave an introduction and housed four levels of information for staff:
Quick Resources: checklists from across CTEL and KCL faculties for daily tasks on KEATS, MS Office and CMS. The aim of this section was to highlight guides that had a short read time that ensured “quick wins”.
KEATS and file accessibility section was added to ensure staff knew about basic functions of Blackboard Ally and where to find central guidance and training
Designing for diverse learners: this expanded on the quick resources with a focus on web accessibility and universal user design in both infographic and text format. Resources were brought in from internal (CTEL) and external (for example gov.uk) sources.
Policies and regulations: this section included reminders such as KCL accessibility report, along with KCL D&I commitments that aimed at putting the above resources to the institutional context.
For a closer look, you can explore the digital accessibility section yourself by navigating to the SSPP TEL Hub (only available to KCL staff members).
Want to Learn more about Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King’s College London?
Jennifer Hastings, EDI Projects & Partnerships Manager at King’s College London explores the UK Government’s recently published Inclusive Britain report and the potential implications for King’s as a leading university.
Inclusive Britain is the government’s response to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities investigation that was published on the 31st March 2021 and made 25 recommendations. The actions outlined in Inclusive Britain are wide ranging, covering areas such as health, education and even the language we use. It isn’t without critics (some condemn its push to ‘de-politicise’ racial inequality and focus on individual action rather than structural change) however this blog aims to provide an insight into the potential implications on King’ rather than debate its merit. The below list is by no means exhaustive- there are 74 actions that will interest the King’s community to varying extents and we’re keen to hear from anyone whose work is impacted by the report.
Terminology and data collection
There’s a number of actions pertaining to the language we use and therefore the data we collect. The government has stopped using the acronym ‘BAME’, an umbrella term, and the Racial Disparities Unit (RDU) plans to consult on the best way to record and communicate ethnicity data and issues.
We know that language is important. It has an impact on accessibility, inclusion and people’s sense of belonging. We also know that there’s often disagreement over the ‘right’ terminology to use. In our recent race equality survey, we asked staff and students for alternatives to BME (Black, Minority Ethnic) and the results varied, however many did recommend referring to an individual’s ethnicity rather than using an umbrella term. We are currently developing our own guidance on terminology and look forward to sharing across King’s.
Actions around artificial intelligence (AI) include addressing racial bias in algorithmic decision making. Richard Salter, Director of Analytics at King’s says: “The use of AI technology is still very much in its infancy in terms of Professional Services at King’s but we’re cognisant of the opportunities and risks, so the recommendations around bias in algorithms, including disproportionate impact on minority groups are very pertinent. If there was a national algorithmic standard this would certainly be beneficial and I would expect we would want to at least be in line with this. We are hoping to establish an Ethical Use policy for AI for Professional Service at King’s as part of the Senior Data Governance Committee which was set up last year.”
Health and clinical research
King’s has four health faculties and so any actions related to public health and services are going to be of interest. There will be a health disparities white paper (although this is not solely focused on race but will also consider other factors such as socioeconomic status), a review of potential racial biases in medical equipment, steps to address maternal health disparities and a move to increase ethnic minority participation in research and clinical trials.
Several actions aim to improve student outcomes, which links in with much of the work carried out by the Student Transitions and Outcomes department, such as their approach to closing the attainment gap and Conversations about Race. King’s is also refreshing its Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which will include an objective to improve mental health outcomes for underrepresented groups.
In terms of accountability, there will be a report to Parliament in March 2022. However, given many of the actions require further research or consultation, I would hope to see a significant amount of public engagement in the meantime. Given King’s has expertise in so many of the areas covered in Inclusive Britain, we have a real opportunity to be sector leading and shape how the UK tackles racism.
Want to Learn more about Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King’s College London?
International Non-Binary People’s Day is marked annually on the 14th July. This coincides with Non-Binary Awareness Week which this year runs from the 11th – 17th July 2022. The aim of both occasions is to celebrate Non-Binary people globally and raise awareness of the challenges members of the community face.
What is non-binary?
The LGBT Foundation have shared the following definition: Non-binary is used to describe people who feel their gender cannot be defined within the margins of gender binary. Instead, they understand their gender in a way that goes beyond simply identifying as either a man or woman. Some non-binary people may feel comfortable within trans communities and find this is a safe space to be with others who don’t identify as cis*, but this isn’t always the case.
*Cis – ‘The word “cis” comes from a Latin word meaning “the same side.” Cisgender is a term used to describe someone whose gender has not changed from the one they were given at birth’ (LGBT Foundation).
Is non-binary new?
The short answer is no!
Non-Binary and gender nonconforming identities have existed throughout history, you just need to know where to look. Here are some handy Historic England and Britannica articles that explore this in more detail.
Its important that we all take steps big and small to be inclusive and supportive of one another. The charity Stonewall have created a useful list of 10 things you can do to step up and be an ally of non-binary people, you can find it here.
What are we doing to support non-binary members of the KCL community?
We have developed a toolkit full useful guidance on how to support trans & non-binary members of our university community, we have also produced a map of the gender neutral facilities that can be found across our campuses and we have a wider LGBTQ+ inclusion resource hub, you can find all of this and more here.
We are committed to protecting the dignity of members of our university community. We want a university free of bullying, harassment, sexual misconduct and hate crime. You can find advice, support and reporting procedures on our Dignity at King’s pages.
Refugee Week is a UK – Wide event marked annually since 1998. The week celebrates refugees creativity, resilience and contributions to society. The week coincides with World Refugee Day which is observed on the 20th June. In this blog we reflect on how King’s marked the week and look at some of the practical ways you can support refugees throughout the year.
Refugee Week at King’s
The theme for 2022’s Refugee Week was ‘Healing’. To make the week King’s hosted a series of events to connect, educate and listen. You can explore some of the events that were held here. Highlights included:
Connecting with Charities: Refugee Week 2022 – King’s volunteering hosted an online event with speakers from The Learning Station Project, Refugee Education UK and South London Refugee Association – three brilliant community partners that are working to support displaced people living in London.
King’s Sanctuary Programme
‘The 10-year vision of the Sanctuary Programme is to realise the educational potential of forcibly displaced young people.’
In 2015 thr Sacnctuary Programe was formed in response to the huge issue of forced displacement around the globe, impacting more than 100 million people. The aim of the programme is to deliver projects that create positive opportunities for young people who have has their education disrupted due to displacement.
The programme is an umbrella for a number of projects at King’s College London. Initiatives Include:
Windrush Day is marked annually in the UK on the 22nd June. Vanessa Bovell-Clarke (she/her) who works in Student Support & Wellbeing Services at King’s College London, reflects on the women in her own family and the sacrifices they made so that those who followed them do not have to.
Vanessa at the Family House in Barbados.
For many people, the word ‘Windrush’ often brings to mind images of sharply dressed, young black men and women setting sail for new opportunities and a new chapter of life in the United Kingdom. More recently, the word has become more synonymous with this same generation as well and even their children being forcibly sent away from the UK, labelled as illegal immigrants by the very same government who first requested their help to rebuild a post-war Britain in the 1940’s.
With both my paternal and maternal grandmothers no longer living, I often wonder what they would make of the Windrush scandal having worked so hard themselves to build lives and plant roots in what I now call home.
Clotelle Eudene Roach (or Granny Clo as she was known to me) was born in Black Rock, St Michael on the island of Barbados in 1937, one of four children. Orphaned by the age of 15, Clotelle quickly took on a maternal role and played a huge part in providing for her siblings along with her older sister, Sylvie.
To make ends meet, she worked jobs in catering and as service staff, in the homes of the wealthy (and mostly white) in Barbados. The remnants of British colonisation were clear to see across the island, with limited opportunities for many black Bajans and much of the island’s wealth circling amongst direct decedents of plantation and slave-owning families.
In 1958, Clotelle set sail for the UK in search of a new destiny once her husband, Ricardo had travelled to London ahead of her (as was often the case for couples at that time) and found and prepared a place for them to live. Once settled in East London, Clotelle came into her own and took on a plethora of roles including seamstress and school lunch lady as well as offering her skills in baking and sewing to private clients and friends in the local community.
Further across to the west side of the Caribbean, Hermine Gertrude Morrison (aka Granny Babs) was born in Cave Valley, Jamaica in 1941, the second youngest of 11 children. In a similar fashion, Babs came to England after being ‘sent for’ by her husband, Lesley after he had settled in London in 1963. Just like Clotelle, Babs also threw herself into multiple jobs including work in a shoe factory, wig making, catering and hairdressing.
Granny Babs pictured on her wedding day.
Growing up, my grandmothers were the physical embodiment of home, stability, family, strength and damn hard work. I witnessed them prepare gargantuan feasts of brown stew chicken, rice and peas, fried flying fish and cou cou (a cornmeal-based dish, also Barbados’ national dish) for crowds of family, friends and even neighbours on a regular basis. Both were regular attendees and very much involved in the church; some of my core memories include Sunday services and church fetes. They did this all whilst working multiple jobs and fulfilling the role of mother in an era that viewed parenting as very much a solitary and gender-conforming role.
It was only as I grew older, that I recognised the gravity of what they had accomplished. As part of the Windrush generation, being amongst the first in their families to move their whole lives to an unfamiliar country was a massive feat in itself. Facing daily racism in said country was an additional struggle; my Granny Clotelle told us of a time she was stopped by a white woman in the middle of a market, who tugged at the back of her skirt and said, “Let’s see your tail then?!”
This generation faced an untold number of difficulties and struggles most of which were steeped in racism, despite being such an integral part of rebuilding the UK economy, filling roles in nursing, catering, manual labour, hospitality, cleaning and much more.
I wonder about the mental health of my grandmother’s, the burdens they had to bear, the pain behind smiles and the silent struggles that were shared with no one but God. Throughout all of this, they were able to bring such life, culture and happiness to their families, which I will forever cherish. Their struggles and personal sacrifices serve as a reminder to me that I do not wish to and nor do I have to, continue to be ‘strong’ at the expense of my wellbeing. I am lucky to have multiple paths that lay ahead of me that do not necessarily include children and motherhood, but where I am encouraged to speak my truth about injustice and my pain.
November 2021 Barbados Independence Ceremony. Left to right: Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Dame Sandra Mason, Rhianna, Prince Charles.
In 2021, Barbados became a republic, officially denouncing the UK and it’s Queen as Head of State. Jamaica, alongside many other Caribbean countries are set to soon follow. This true independence feels like a poignant reflection of the next generation, as we prepare to live life to the fullest, honouring the Windrush legacy as we do so.
The King’s Legal Clinic aims to further the education of KCL law students and promote social justice. The Legal Clinic has allowed King’s students to help victims of the Windrush scandal in practical and proactive ways. You can find out more about the Windrush Justice Clinic’s award winning work in this article.
Tell us about yourself and your role at King’s. How did you get involved with this work?
I am the Director, Supervising Solicitor and Senior Lecturer at King’s Legal Clinic (the Clinic) which is part of the Dickson Poon School of Law. The Clinic aims to promote social justice and educate our students by providing them with experiential learning opportunities. Our students work on legal cases and research projects under the supervision of lawyers either as part of an assessed module or on an extracurricular basis. I teach and supervise clinic students and oversee the running of the Clinic, this includes developing new partnerships and clinics.
When the opportunity arose to develop a Windrush Justice Clinic (WJC) for King’s it seemed a perfect opportunity as it aligned with the Clinic’s aim to proactively engage students in equality and race issues through experiential learning. Following the brutal killing of George Floyd , as a Clinic we had begun to reflect more deeply on what our social justice mission means. The Clinic has long recognised the link between the hostile immigration environment and racism and have developed a range of immigration advice services to counter this. We also have an active strategy to work with marginalised communities both in the UK and internationally.
I led on developing the WJC at King’s with great support from the Law faculty, the Clinic team and more widely at King’s. There have been challenges along the way, but it has been a positive experience and really brough home how much my own values align with King’s. In the first part of my career I worked as a legal aid solicitor specialising mainly in refugee and immigration law. I had always been committed to working with marginalised communities and enabling access to justice, the transition to teaching and clinical legal education was quite a natural one.
When we talk about the ‘Windrush scandal’, what do we mean?
People arriving from the commonwealth from 1948-1971 are commonly referred to as the Windrush Generation. ‘Windrush’ derives from the ship ‘HMT Empire Windrush’ which brought one of the first groups of Caribbean people to the UK in 1948. Many of the Windrush Generation were invited by the British government to the UK to take up jobs, for e.g in the newly formed NHS, where there were shortages in the aftermath of WW2. The people of these colonies or dominions , as there were then then known, were given a type of citizenship and were British subjects. This accorded them a right of free movement within the empire and an ability to transmit their status to their children.
The essence of the scandal is that the Windrush generation , and their children, who arrived in the UK were residing here lawfully, they were either British or had settled status. However the Home Office issued no formal paperwork in many instances, as there was no legal requirement to do so.
In 2010, the Home Office destroyed landing cards and other records belonging to Windrush migrants, making it is difficult for Windrush arrivals and their families to prove their legal status following changes in the Immigration system and notably the Government’s 2012 hostile environment policy. The hostile environment policy aimed to make the UK uninhabitable for undocumented migrants by tasking landlords, employers, the NHS, banks and many others with the function of enforcing immigration control. This meant that many of the Windrush Generation were unable to prove their lawful immigration status , some were detained and deported, lost their right to work and rent, access to bank accounts, claim benefits and access to healthcare etc.
In 2018, the UK government finally accepted that it had wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights to the Windrush generation. Following acknowledgement of the scandal, to date more than 12,000 people have received documents from the Home Office confirming they are now legally living in the UK. In April 2019, the government established The Windrush Compensation Scheme (‘WCS’) which aims to provide victims with recompense for their suffering.
The WCS scheme has been extensively criticised and whilst attempts have been made to improve it, many consider it not fit for purpose. In November 2021, the Home Affairs Committee on the WCS found: ‘Instead of providing a remedy, for many people the Windrush Compensation Scheme has actually compounded the injustices faced as a result of the Windrush Scandal’. There are numerous issues with the schemes;
Low uptake, only 5.8% of the people who are believed to be eligible for compensation have received a payment.
Complex application process requiring detailed calculations, supporting evidence and information.
Hostile approach to assessment of evidence.
Inadequate legal advice provision. Legal aid is not available.
Delay in decision making, for e.g. 23 people have now died without receiving a decision.
Low amounts awarded.
Inadequate appeals system.
Initial estimates had suggested the scheme could be forced to pay out between £200 -500 million and that at least 15,000 applications would be submitted. Thousands of people have been affected by this scandal, but many are reluctant and often frightened to ask for help. The estimate of eligible claimants has been revised down by the Home Office and current stands at 4,000 to 6,000 claims.
What does the Windrush Justice Clinic aim to do?
The WJC is a collaborative partnership made up of community organisations, law centres and university legal advice clinics striving; to help victims of the Windrush scandal receive the compensation they deserve; research the accessibility and fairness of the compensations scheme; and share and disseminate the WJC clinical legal education model of collaboration.
King’s joined the wider WJC collaborative partnership in October 2021. King’s part-funds a solicitor at Southwark Law Centre and 20 King’s students have been involved in; supporting community outreach sessions to raise awareness of the WCS and build trust in the elderly Windrush community in Southwark; and provide casework support to the SLC solicitor in complex cases involving vulnerable clients.
The WJC has carried out preliminary research, led by the University of Westminster, into unmet need for legal advice for people making claims under the WCS which found the process was to complex for claimants to navigate, legal assistance was required, the current advice framework in inadequate and there is considerable unmet legal need.
Have any of the cases you’ve worked on surprised you?
I have been struck how the Windrush scandal has impacted a wide variety of people from all walks of life and ages. King’s WJC is representing clients from a variety of countries in the Commonwealth, including those with Jamaican, Dominican, Indian, Nigerian and Canadian heritage. We have younger client’s who are victims of domestic abuse, experiencing serious problems in accessing housing support due to the inability to prove their lawful residence. An older client who’s highly successful career in creative industry was stalled for a number of years, which had a devastating impact on his life including health issues, financial issues and the resultant breakdown of significant relationships. A daughter who experienced significant delays returning to the UK to care for her elderly and unwell mother. Many people’s lives have been impacted and it is humbling to hear about their experiences.
What lessons do you hope we have learnt from the treatment of the Windrush generation?
There is much to reflect upon and learn, this is something we are planning an event around to take place in either September or October 2022, so watch this space! For me the following are critical as a starting point:
It is important to assess the root cause of any problem and we have to address the historic and ongoing racism which permeates immigration legislation in the UK. Whilst there has been some acknowledgment , there does appear some resistance. It was recently reported that the Home Office is suppressing the release of a government commissioned report which finds racist legislation led to the Windrush scandal.
Public sector equality duties must be carried out in a meaningfully and robust fashion. In 2020 the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that the Home Office has acted unlawfully by not properly considering how it’s hostile environment policies affected black members of the Windrush generation.
A functioning and effective legal aid system is vital to protect people’s rights and keep a check on government. When the hostile environment immigration policy was introduced, large parts of immigration advice was removed from the scope of legal aid, therefore Windrush victims were unable to access to vital free legal advice. Many Windrush victims currently need legal assistance with their compensation claims in light of its complexity and the historical trauma suffered, legal aid is not available and this is another reason for the low uptake in the compensation scheme.
A government compensation scheme should be administered by an appropriate department who is not viewed as the perpetrator of the harm by the victims. Distrust in the Home Office has been cited as a reason for the low uptake in the scheme, the rules of the scheme itself require a level of evidence which perpetuates the culture of hostile environment:
“From my experiences with the Windrush Compensation Scheme / Home Office, and their responses to my claim, it is almost like they are telling me the following: “We are really, really, sorry for punching you in the face, however, we are sure you’ve recovered now, it wasn’t that bad of a punch, so here is another punch in the face, but don’t worry about that one, because you’ve already recovered, please accept some tape and cotton wool to make a plaster out of.’” Windrush victim testimony provided to Home Affairs Committee
What is the future of the work of the WJC?
The WJC has been great success so far , it won Best New Pro Bono Activity Award at the 2022 Law Works and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards. Most importantly we are supporting clients and providing our students with a valuable learning experience, where they can develop an understanding of structural inequalities in society and work with clients from diverse backgrounds.
We want the WJC to help as many people as possible through casework in partnership with Southwark Law Centre, build capacity in other Clinic’s and organisations across the UK, and carry out further research on unmet legal need and systemic issues with the compensation scheme.
Want to Learn more about Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King’s College London?
To mark Windrush Day, Hannah Gordon, a first-year English student at King`s College London, remembers the legacy of the Windrush generation and their contribution to Britain.
The ship Empire Windrush.
Waving hands and smiling faces spill out of the Empire Windrush as it approaches Tilbury Dock. A new generation of hopeful arrivals determined to make their mark in the ‘mother country’ and build a better life for them and their families back home. Unbeknownst to them, they would face racism, inequality and discrimination that would define British race relations for years to come.
The Windrush generation, as most are known, have become the face of the dynamic global hub, which is Britain. In 2018, the Windrush Scandal became headline news with numerous cases of wrongful detentions and deportations of these migratory pioneers, who were invited by the British government to live and work. This scandal prompted widespread condemnation but more importantly, a conscious drive to honour the contributions of the Windrush generation. Subsequently, every year on the 22nd of June we celebrate Windrush Day commemorating their indelible sacrifice to Britain.
Both my grandparents were part of the Windrush generation. My grandmother was a night shift nurse in the NHS for 40 years and lived in Ladbroke Grove during the Notting Hill riots. My grandfather was an auto- electrician and then a machine operator- spanning 30 years. So, as we approach Windrush Day, what better time to learn more about the effort, resilience and duty of this generation who helped mould Britain into the cultural powerhouse it is today?
Lord Kitchener (calypsonian).
Contributions to the Public Sector
Picture of two nurses from the Windrush generation.
The NHS is a cultural institution to Britain. It embodies ideas of equality and accessible rights to all – regardless of circumstance. No wonder it took a staring position at London`s 2012 opening ceremony- think Britain think NHS. Today, 20 % of the NHS’ workforce is from Black and Minority Ethnic Backgrounds and it is the most diverse workforce in the whole of Europe. Caribbean nurses from the Windrush Generation played a massive part in building the NHS helping to fill the labour shortage. Despite experiencing racism and discrimination, they pursued in their roles demonstrating dedication to their job, family, and Britain.
Many of the Windrush generation also worked in Transport for London. Transport for London actively recruited in the Caribbean and by 1956 they had enrolled dozens of workers – both men and women. Around 20% of TFL workers are still from Black and Minority Ethnic Backgrounds today. This transport network, iconic to London, still bears the Windrush imprint.
Contributions to Music
Music has been long associated with the Windrush generation. From the sound systems, which became a vocal point for black youth seeking identity in hostile Britain, to genres like Reggae, Dub and Ska. Dub, which remixed records, became the premise for modern day genres like drum and bass as well as house music.
Contributions to Literature
As the conversation surrounding race in fields of education and literature becomes more prominent. Writers like Zadie Smith, Malorie Blackman, Sam Selvon and Benjamin Zephaniah are more widely recognised. Walk into waterstones and their books are in some of the most noticeable displays. The influx of diverse literature was a massive contribution of the Windrush generation. Writers like Sam Selvon helped popularise the creole voice in writing and his subversive style is often adopted by ‘contemporary figures like Zadie Smith’. Other mobilising movements, like the Caribbean Arts Movement and the Caribbean Voices helped attract an audience to these new styles of writing.
I have only scratched the surface of the Windrush Generation’s achievements. There are so many more exciting stories and experiences to share. We must continue to read, educate, and honour the debt they paid for this country as Britain`s builders.
Every Pride month, the problem of ‘Rainbow Washing’ rears its technicolour head. For those unfamiliar with the term, when companies appropriate the Pride flag during the month of June but do nothing of pragmatic value for their queer customers, that’s Rainbow Washing.
But it’s not just companies who offer nothing in return to the LGBTQ+ community who receive backlash. You might remember Marks and Spencer launching a Pride month sandwich in 2019 – the Lettuce, Guac, Bacon and Tomato. They declared the sandwich ‘packed with flavour’ and donated £10,000 to AKT (the UK’s leading LGBTQ+ homeless charity) but it still left a bad taste in people’s mouths.
So, what is it about Rainbow Washing that provokes angry community leaders and a month of social media outrage? Perhaps it’s about money. Yes, Marks and Spencer gave a healthy sum to AKT, but I’m sure they made a few quid for themselves by jazzing up a BLT and selling it for £4.45. But let’s be realistic. Companies are about profits, and the margins need to be worth it.
Maybe lack of creativity is to blame.
Since 2016, Skittles have ditched their signature rainbow colours for Pride Month, selling white sweets in white packaging because ‘only one rainbow matters [during] pride’. Like M&S, they donate a portion of proceeds to deserving charities.
They might have made it impossible to find the purples and avoid the greens, but the public responded more favourably to a campaign promising to ‘give the rainbow’ rather than take it purely for commercial gain. Skittles went further than adding some arbitrary guacamole to a British lunchtime staple.
They build on their campaign year after year, and in 2021, they colourised black and white images of LGBTQ+ history for the first time, bringing attention to queer heroes without whom we wouldn’t be celebrating Pride in the first place. Surely that’s a worthy Pride campaign.
Then again, Mars Inc (owner of Skittles) must have profited, because the rainbow-less confection is back for the seventh year running, and it’s difficult to believe a multi-billion-pound company runs on altruism alone.
If I had to guess what makes a good Pride campaign, I’d say it’s about authenticity. I can’t define authenticity (which I appreciate isn’t very helpful) but I can tell you about some of the things Proudly King’s are doing to celebrate Pride Month 2022:
We’ve organised social and educational events. Both are important. We’re particularly excited about ‘Stories of Queer Poland’, a joint event with Warsaw University on Wednesday 22nd June at 5.30pm, online and in person.
We’re continuing our allyship campaign, encouraging colleagues to pledge to the LGBTQ+ community in order to receive a beautiful progress lanyard and wear with pride. So far, we have over 400 pledges. You’ll see some of them at the bottom of this blog.
We’re flying flags from Strand, Guy’s, Waterloo and Denmark Hill campuses. The buildings at Denmark Hill are illuminated with rainbow colours. There’s nothing wrong with visible celebration of Pride Month as long as that’s not the only thing you do.
Most importantly, we’re continuing our year-round work. We’re marching at London Trans+ Pride in July and attending UK Black Pride in August and Bi Pride in September. We’re continuously working with EDI and Senior Leaders to improve the LGBTQ+ experience at King’s. I’m sure you’re all aware (because we haven’t stopped banging on about it) that King’s was awarded a Stonewall Gold Award in February 2022 and Proudly King’s was a highly commended Staff Network. That’s a testament to our institution’s commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion.
There’s no rule book on ‘How To Do Pride Month’. To be honest, I’m not always sure what’s right and what’s wrong. But I do know that authenticity (however you define it) goes a long way.
This year, I emailed Estates and Facilities colleagues around King’s to ask about flying Pride flags. They responded almost immediately, with kindness and enthusiasm, to tell me they’d be up on the June 1st. They didn’t need reminding.
So yes, they’re just flags, but they symbolise King’s coming together to support and celebrate our LGBTQ+ colleagues.
That’s what Pride means to me.
Proudly King’s Allyship Campaign Pledges
Below are some pledges that members of the King’s community have shared with Proudly King’s as part of their allyship campaign.
As a white cis gay man, I’ve had a lot of things pretty easy, but even so I still think twice before holding my husband’s hand in public. I’m going to support + the LGBTQ community more visibly, promote equality and challenge prejudice in my work, volunteering and my personal life.
I will work towards incorporating more inclusive events and LGBTQ+ representation within the Refreshers and Welcome to King’s projects, expand our support and offer guidelines to services and faculty events.
I will engage in self-directed learning and active listening so that I can better understand the issues impacting the community.
I pledge to display the Proudly King’s banner as a symbol of my allyship for the LGBTQ+ community and to indicate my openness to having conversations with students and staff about issues they might find difficult to talk about. Being open about my allyship is an important step for me.
It starts at home. I champion this within my family hoping that changes in the way they speak and describe members of the LGBTQ+ community would lead to changes in interactions within their own social circles and so on.
I’m going to try and be more of a visible bi role model in my department and continue to support others in having challenging conversations. I also hope to introduce pronouns to more student activities for the projects I oversee.
I’m going to speak out against transphobic attitudes when raised by friends and family. I’m going to look at ways we can be more inclusive for young learners in our widening participation programmes.
I will stand up against negative, harmful and discriminatory comments and behaviour. I will continue to educate myself – and know this is my responsibility. I’ll model good behaviour but will own my mistakes and learn from them.
I will be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community by ensuring that all of our processes and policies within the Business School support equality, diversity and inclusion. I will try my best to encourage all of the diverse voices and views within the School to be heard, and to speak up when homophobic, transphobic or other intolerant views are expressed in my presence.
I pledge to proactively learn more about LGBTQ+, through books, films, tv shows, listening to podcasts, talking to those who identify as LGBTQ+ to better understand the existing barriers and challenges. I hope that this will not only allow me to be informed but will also enable me to learn how to become a better ally.
Hello I’m Julia. I have worked at King’s for nearly 14 years and for most of that time I’ve supported my partner (let’s call him A) who has a degenerative spine condition that now badly affects his balance and mobility. Also for the last 4 years I have supported my parents, now both over 90, who live in a village about 4 hours away from me by Tube, train, and taxi. In January this year I realised that I’m a Carer. Since then I’ve joined the NEST Committee and often share snippets of my caring activities with the NEST team, which I agreed to put into blog form for Carers Week. This is a very much abbreviated version of what Carers Week 2022 brought for me and why this blog, which was meant to be posted at the start of this week, nearly didn’t happen.
Sunday: I’ve stayed with Dad for an extra day to see Mum who returned to her care home last night from hospital where she had been since Wednesday. After 30 mins Mum suddenly becomes unwell again and, as her medical condition falls in a grey area for her end-of-life arrangements, the Duty Nurse and I decide to call an ambulance. Mum and I wait in in the ambulance and A&E all day and evening; I finally make the decision to get the last train home as I can’t leave A alone any longer with a Tube strike tomorrow. Mum remains in A&E all night diligently looked after by the wonderful nurses.
Monday: As I arrived home after mid-night I arranged with my kind and understanding manager that I could take a day of A/L. At 7am A and I were woken by call from Dad telling me he was heading to A&E concerned about his own health. All day I’m either on the phone checking on Mum and Dad or catching-up with the many household jobs that A is unable to do due to his disability. Both Mum and Dad arrive back at their respective homes by early evening. I ‘help’ A to cook dinner as lack of balance makes cooking difficult and unsafe for him, although he still enjoys it.
Tuesday: My ‘Spidey-sense’ tells me to take a second day of A/L (thanks again to my manager). Mid-morning Dad rings to say that he has fallen and has called for an ambulance. Dad is ok but the Paramedic speaks with the hospital and asks me to stay with Dad in case this stops him calling the emergency services unnecessarily, just until a social support package can be put in place. I grab my bag and work laptop and run to the station in the hope of catching an off-peak train. I make the train and spend the journey speaking with Dad’s GP, his weekly Support Worker (N), Social Services, and Dad’s Solicitor (to find out if I have Power of Attorney for Dad as well as Mum).
Wednesday: I agree with my manager that I can take 2 days Dependent’s Leave to get Dad’s social care set-up (phew – just looking after Dad can leave little time to work when I’m there). Dad, N and I meet with his GP, who confirms that his health problems are caused by poor medication compliance; Dad agrees grudgingly to a trial of daily care visits in addition to N’s weekly visits. As soon as the GP leaves, I join the NEST Carers Week panel where Ginestra, Lorraine and I aim to raise awareness of the range of family members carers support and different types of caring; I am just pleased that I can join and not let down the other members of the NEST Committee and panel.
Thursday: This is beginning to feel like a TV ‘challenge programme’. I manage to visit Mum, set-up the arrangements for Dad’s social care (co-ordinating with his GP and N) and get Dad’s shopping and a range of outstanding household tasks done for him. I must get back to London tonight as A has a hospital appointment tomorrow morning. Due to a concert and train delays, I leave for London later than planned but finally can write this blog post in the station and on the train. It is only Thursday and who knows what the rest of Carers Week 2022 will bring. I love my work at King’s and can’t wait to finally have the chance to catch-up with some urgent tasks before Monday. Thankfully not every week is like this but, as many colleagues at King’s know, life as a carer can be very unpredictable.
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Global Day of Parents is observed around the world annually on the 1st June. In this blog Safyan Rahman an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Project Officer here at King’s and Natasha Awais-Dean, co-chair of NEST our parents and carers network, reflect on out commitment to ensuring parents can flourish in all areas of their lives.
In 2012, the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly declared the first-ever Global Day of Parents. Held annually on 1 June, the day was created as an opportunity to honour families around the world, in all their diversity. It recognises that although single parent families, same sex parents, mixed race families and families from various cultures, countries and ethnicities experience unique challenges, they ultimately share the universal experience of being a family. It particularly recognises the universal challenges all parents face in as they nurture and protect children within a family environment.
In the 1980’s the UN began to focus more on issues related to the family, based on the growing belief that the conditions in which a child is raised in their family branches out into other spheres of global development. This paved the way for resolutions such as marking 1994 as the International Year of Family and declaring 15 May to be annually observed as the International Day of Families. This increased appreciation for the experiences of families across the world set a precedent for the Global Day of Parents.
This day has provided a day of reflection for workforces in all sectors to consider how meaningfully they understand the challenges faced by staff members who are parents and carers, and how effectively they plan to support them. Organisations such as UNICEF and UN Women have acknowledged the importance of introducing family-friendly workplace policies and practices, and how this puts companies and institutions in a stronger position to provide systematic support to employees, particularly those who are parents and/or carers.
King’s has been one of the many institutions to take part in this global conversation and actively reflect on ways in we can support parents and carers through the challenges they face in the workplace, particularly in the context of the pandemic. More recently, many families have experienced considerable challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only have parents had to home school their children, potentially shield their children and care for other members of their family, but they have had to do so while managing their mental health and continuing their work responsibilities. We are proud that our senior leaders took a strong ‘family-first’ stance early in the pandemic, strongly championed at senior levels of the College by NEST (the Network to Engage, Support & bring Together Parents and Carers) We know that this approach meant so much to those who found their home and work lives colliding in an instant. As an institution, we understand the challenges of being a working parent and so we have a wide range of resources and means of support for staff to access:
The Parents’ & Carers’ Hub provides staff and managers with easy-to-access information about the support and benefits available to parents and carers. From our ‘Shared Parental Leave & Pay’ policy to our ‘Childcare’ policy this page covers a wide breadth of the internal support we have put in place for parents and carers across the organisation. Further support on flexible working can also be found.
The Carers’ Career Development Fund is a scheme designed to help parents and carers with additional costs associated with work events that fall out of normal working hours (such as conferences and networking events).
Consider joining NEST (the Network to Engage, Support & bring Together Parents and Carers). As with all of our staff networks, which aim to provide a sense of community for all staff by connecting them with Colleagues with similar lived experiences, NEST is for all those with parenting or caring responsibilities. The network holds a range of events, offers a thriving online community through which you can connect with colleagues across the organisation, and can offer guidance and representation at strategic and policy level.
If you work, or are interested in working, flexibly, then you may be interested in the Flexible Working Group at King’s. FWG has been campaigning over the last few years to support flexible working for all, including playing a key part in the College’s Athena Swan Silver Award submission. You may have contributed at the start of 2020 to our Flexible Working Survey, the results from which have been useful in advocating for better understanding of flexible working. Members of the FWG have more recently come together to create resources and guidance to support you in this area. Please take a look at the Flexible Working SharePoint site, which includes lots of information, useful links, case studies and some handy hints and tips. If you have any ideas for content or notice something is missing, please let the group know. This is a living resource, which will be regularly reviewed and updated, so your feedback is highly valued.
The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) as a free support service for King’s staff and all immediate family members. It provides independent expert advice on a range of issues such as family matters, debt management, wellbeing, relationships, personal development and life events.
External resources and support can be found with Working Families. It’s one of the UK’s leading work-life balance charities and aims to remove the barriers faced by parents and carers in employment. As members of Working Families, we can provide staff with additional support (such as an easily accessible toolkit for parents and an advice form ranging many issues) to help create a more supportive culture to embed a flexible, high performing workforce).
On this Global Day of Parents, let us celebrate parents who balance work and personal commitments alongside family responsibilities (sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing) and let’s re-affirm our commitment to ensuring parents can flourish in all areas of their lives.
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Equality, Diversity & Inclusion are about people and culture, and is grounded in law by the Equality Act 2010 which covers nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sex.
The Diversity Digest is our platform to showcase how these characteristics intersect and overlap to make up our everyday human experience, and to articulate the relevance and impact of D&I work through stories.
Most blogs penned by our EDI team and our wonderful community of guest bloggers.