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Case Study: Leeds Diversity Month

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Housing Leeds Staff Diversity Group identified that in the previous years the different geographical housing teams had held diversity weeks and wanted to recreate something similar for Housing Leeds. However they needed to take account of a much larger citywide audience of 1,551 colleagues (May 16). During the summer of 2016 the Diversity Team set up a small task and finish group to create 2016’s Diversity Month. It was agreed to have it over three weeks and culminated in Leeds City Council’s (LCC) Inclusion Week. It was also opened up to the whole directorate on 30/09/16. The aim of this month was to:-  Increase awareness and understanding of Leeds diverse communities  To make people feel valued, respected and listened to and be able to challenge  Recognition and valuing the differences we each bring to the work place and creating an environment where everyone has equal access  To support Housing Leeds’ Lesbian Gay Bisexual +Transgender* (LGB+T*)action plan  Enable flexibility for colleagues not to miss out on different learning experiences by holding events - all over the city in different venues (12 venues utilised) - different days - different times of the day - over a course of 3 weeks

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Case Study: Leeds Diversity Month

  1. 1. Evaluation How did this piece of work come about? Housing Leeds Staff Diversity Group identified that in the previous years the different geographical housing teams had held diversity weeks and wanted to recreate something similar for Housing Leeds. However they needed to take account of a much larger citywide audience of 1,551 colleagues (May 16). During the summer of 2016 the Diversity Team set up a small task and finish group to create 2016’s Diversity Month. It was agreed to have it over three weeks and culminated in Leeds City Council’s (LCC) Inclusion Week. It was also opened up to the whole directorate on 30/09/16. The aim of this month was to:-  Increase awareness and understanding of Leeds diverse communities  To make people feel valued, respected and listened to and be able to challenge  Recognition and valuing the differences we each bring to the work place and creating an environment where everyone has equal access  To support Housing Leeds’ Lesbian Gay Bisexual +Transgender* (LGB+T*)action plan  Enable flexibility for colleagues not to miss out on different learning experiences by holding events - all over the city in different venues (12 venues utilised) - different days - different times of the day - over a course of 3 weeks Who was involved? Diversity Month was driven by a small task and finish group from Housing Leeds Diversity Group. We would like to say a big thank you those who contributed their time, knowledge and enthusiasm to the month: - The Chair and Vice Chair from the tenant groups Equal Access who gave their stories on their own disabilities - Members of the Transgender community who came and gave their stories - LGB+T* LCC Staff Network - Paul Seddon- Emergency Planning Officer, Resilience & Emergencies Team - Bill Dennis and Pria Bhabra - Integration and Partnerships Manager, Migration Yorkshire - Chris Sutton- Chair of Healthy Minds - Geoff Turnbull- Senior Performance Officer- Equalities - Linda Stevenson-Training Co-ordinator, Domestic Violence Team - Leeds Mind - The Grand Mosque - Sinai Synagogue - Leeds Minster
  2. 2. Details of sessions Human Stories on Disability: 21 attendees Housing Leeds have just under 40% of tenants and 8% of Housing Management and 5% of Property and Contracts who identify themselves as having a disability whether it be a long term health condition, mental, physical or learning disability. We wanted to highlight some of the issues facing both our tenants and colleagues who have a disability and increase colleague’s awareness and understanding. ‘…thanks for an informative and informal session’ “the stories from the two tenants were outstanding” Due Regard to Equality: 35 Attendees As a public authority we need to ensure that all our strategies, policies, services and functions, both current and proposed have given proper consideration to equality, diversity, cohesion and integration. In all appropriate instances we will need to carry out an equality, diversity, cohesion and integration impact assessment. Quote: “I really enjoyed this. I appreciated how decision making process may affect LCC.” Straight Allies Training: 15 Attendees Many lesbian, gay and bisexual people still have negative experiences because of their sexual orientation and feel unable to be out at work. LCC have adopted the Stonewall Straight Ally training to as it has been identified that Straight Allies can have a transformative effect on the culture of an organisation and the workplace experience of staff, both gay and straight. It also support the Stonewall submission, LCC LGB+T* Friendly City and Housing Leeds LGB+T* Action plan. Faith Visits: Supports the ‘Strong Communities Benefitting from a Strong City’ is one of LCC’s breakthrough project, which looks at promoting good community relations, cultural & religious tolerance and respect, and the celebration of cultural diversity. We arranged for a tour and a talk at each of the following places of worship to learn more about different religions in our communities that we live and work in: Leeds Minster- 21 Attendees “Really enjoyed my particular visit- even though I have lived in Leeds all my life I have never been in that church. I found it really interesting and nothing like I was expecting”
  3. 3. The Grand Mosque- 23 Attendees “Although I felt that I had a certain level of understanding beforehand I think it really addressed the misconceptions and myths that surround Islam and the fact that it was led in part by a strong female speaker was really positive. The fact that the female speaker was someone who had chosen to follow Islam (rather than someone who was born into the religion ) was a really positive message as I think it made it more realistic for me (just a personal observation). I think this is something that we should encourage more staff to attend/ experience as it portrayed such a positive message.” The Sinai- 21 Attendees “I attended and came away having a real appreciation for and a better understanding of the Jewish community.” “The synagogue visit was very interesting and informative. Rabbi Ester was an excellent host and public speaker” Mental health awareness training- 20 attendees It linked in with the LCC Health and Wellbeing Strategy- making sure we can all stay safe and well at work as just over 603 employees in the Directorate attributed their sickness absence to mental health, stress, or depression this year. LCC’s Healthy Minds staff network (along with the representative for Housing) and Leeds Mind delivered a session about tools and resources available for staff to help support positive mental health and wellbeing. “A good balance of information and audience participation. Sensitive issues sensitively dealt with humour greatly appreciated” “Excellent training, entertaining and very informative”
  4. 4. Supporting Migrants in Leeds- 21 Attendees It supports LCC’s breakthrough project- Strong communities benefitting from a strong city. Leeds is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK with people from many different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. It was felt that it would be beneficial to gain an overview of migration in Leeds. Last year we had 9,081 new arrivals in Leeds into our communities that we work in. “to have more of an open mind about how the media can affect opinion and influence ideas” “the different types of visas migrants have and how it affects their recourse to public funds” “well worth attending” Stay Safe Awareness Course – 22 Attendees It again supports LCC’s breakthrough project Strong Communities Benefitting from a Strong City’, which identified the need to undertake more targeted work with communities to dispel extremism from our city, wherever it exists. The course explored the current threat to the UK from international terrorism and where the threat originates from and the way this impacts on our day to day lives. Modern Day Slavery- 21 attendees This training again supports LCC’s breakthrough project Strong Communities Benefitting from a Strong City’. It provided a good understanding of the scope of it in the UK in particular Leeds, how to recognise the signs or what to do if they suspect that someone is a victim. “I have gained better understanding about the topic, which will help me to identify human trafficking issues in my area plus enable me to support the victims of it through signposting them to the right service.” “We need to roll this out into local Housing Offices as our Housing Officers can be a key source of intelligence.” Domestic Violence Awareness- 25 attendees The training supports LCC’s Breakthrough project- Tackling Domestic Violence and Abuse. The session looked at honour based violence film, survivors of domestic violence and then provided signposting information. “most interesting and informative” “there may be only one chance to do something about it” Transgender Awareness: Human Stories- 19 attendees Supported the LCC’s LGB+T* friendly city agenda, Stonewall submission, Housing Leeds LGB+T* Action Plan. We wanted to give the audience a greater understanding of transgender community by asking a colleague and her transgender daughter, a regular visitor to Navigation and a tenant to give their stories. “Through the speakers opening up I was made aware that there are colleagues around me who have had some similar issues and has enabled us to talk outside the meeting which has been mutually helpful.” “I strongly believe all LCC staff should have compulsory training on this topic as it is a taboo subject
  5. 5. and this training broke down barriers and I feel that I attained a significantly improved understanding of Gender awareness.” Promotion of the event We felt that we needed to have a frequent presence with communication to make sure the message for out to everyone using a logo and a strap line- ‘When you respect everyone’s differences’ We  Attended SMT to ask for their support in May  Jill and Simon completed an endorsement video- emailed out 08/08/16  Hot Topics started to promote Diversity Month 03/08/16  Email sent to Housing Managers and P+C Managers 17/08/16  Email sent to Team Leaders 22/08/16  Opened it up to the whole directorate on 01/09/16  Standalone Diversity Month sessions promoted daily a week in advance  Customer Relations Manager actively endorsing and promoting it while on the phone to the different housing teams  36 out of the 37 staff diversity month evaluations said that they liked how it was advertised only 1 said that there had been too many emails. In 3 weeks, 243 people attending 13 sessions (all of which were full) from all six departments across Housing Leeds. Please see a breakdown of the departments that attended the training. The category of ‘Other’ comprises of Waste Management and Strategy and Investment. What difference has it made? The month itself was a great success. Some of the key outcomes linked to wider initiatives:  LGB+T* Friendly City Agenda  LCC’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Agenda  LCC’s Breakthrough Projects - Domestic Violence - Strong communities benefitting from a strong city  100% of the respondents from the evaluations felt that the sessions were relevant to their roles  100% of the respondents from the evaluation said that they wanted to see similar diversity events in the future  Overall feedback “Events were good, visits to places of worship is a very good idea…just wish we had more time to spend on the softer aspect of what we do” “I think it’s excellent to maintain the active participation and practical activities/ visits as you Word of Mouth 18% E- Bullitins 32% Hot Topics 33% Diversity Member s 17% How did they hear about diversity month NS 33% P+C 31% HM 18% HO 5% PRS 4% LBS 8% Other 1% Breakdown of departments attendence in diversity month
  6. 6. have done in the diversity month.” “…excellent set of visits and discussions. I suggest the council should copy this” “I felt that the events were key to understanding the diverse customer base who we work with and also the diversity amongst our colleagues. In a recent home visit I was able use the event to explain to a customer how we value diversity and how we promote it across our staff and teams” Wider benefits and value for money  The intention of Diversity Month was to bring equality and diversity to life for Housing Leeds colleagues and increase their awareness and understanding of the communities in which they work with  We looked at the different LCC breakthrough projects to see how we could include these and make them relevant to our colleagues as well as other relevant topics pertinent to their roles  The budget allocation for the whole of the month was £400, however only £230.45 was spent  Utilising the LCC Faith Covenant enabled us to use the lead contacts for the different faith communities  Different departments (Resilience and Emergencies Team, Community Safety- Domestic Violence, Migrant Access) and staff networks (LGB+T* and Healthy Minds) were happy to provide free training  We only had to cancel one of the sessions which was in the first week (Visit to the Unity Church with a talk from Rainbow Rev on inclusivity due to lack of interest and possible promotion  Fostered good relationship with the Transgender community - “I just wanted to thank you for all the efforts you put on organising Gender Identity training session…It is great to hear that despite my concerns and worries, the training did turn out well. I also received your previous email and read the group feedback. They were very heartwarming”  Fostered good relations with the faith communities - “As always, the doors of Sinai remain open to further visits” - “We look forward to the opportunity of working with you all in the future. Please don't hesitate to contact us regarding additional visits for more members of your staff. It would be our pleasure to welcome them all to our mosque.” Next Steps  Due to over subscription we are going to be putting on additional sessions on - Stay Safe - Mental health  Identify other diversity topics that are relevant to Housing Leeds such as looking into Autism and Transgender  Additional training on Supporting Migrants in Leeds  Work closely with the different internal networks on different campaigns  6 months after Diversity Month to hold a faith event week for the whole directorate (attending a different place of worship every day) to build on the relationships that were made with different faith communities and the positivity surrounding these sessions

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