Staff networks are a great way for everyone to feel valued and have a place to belong in the company. Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust believes in this, so much so that we have seven of them! The three main aims of our networks are;
We want to create ways to celebrate our differences and share stories from our different paths in life. We also want to promote community and national events which do the same (Pride, Black History Month, etc). Lastly, we want to celebrate the NHS and all the things we do to support our staff.
We want to encourage our staff to do more. We do this by providing development opportunities and access to helpful advice for members. There are also individual and peer group support systems for each one of the networks. The trust wants to empower our staff by improving their knowledge of local, regional, and national issues in health care. Experience is a great teacher, so we provide access for you to chat to role models and mentors to build confidence and inspire you to go further. We do all of this while making sure that we have a safe and supportive learning environment for members.
Transform the organisation
We want our networks to help shape and direct the conversation to be more inclusive so we can give a voice to everyone in our workplace and community. The networks also provide a way for senior management and staff groups to speak about issues they may face and get help.
Every month, the Trust head for staff networks; Shanila Wahid Foolheea, brings all the networks together for a monthly meeting. There everyone can show off what their network has been up to, as well as participate in a Q&A. All of our staff, whether in a network or not, are welcome to come to ask anything.
Firstly, we have the Time Out LGBTQI+ Network. They exist to support staff and help give an LGBTQI+ viewpoint to trust-based initiatives. The network is run by staff, for staff, so you are speaking to people who know first-hand the day to day life of working for us. They aim to help and support members on personal issues, along with local, national and international issues. As well as this, relevant speakers will occasionally come in to chat about their lives. If you want to go but you are not ready to come out yet, the team will respect that will not pass on anything. They are here to help you, not to push you. They also support the Stonewall 'Straight Allies' model. This means that they welcome all with an interest in helping develop better support for LGBTQI+ people in the Trust, rather than exclusively being for LGBTQI+ people.
Ethnic Minority Network
Next up we have the Ethnic Minority Staff Network. The meeting is run by volunteer BAME staff (of all backgrounds and staff groups) within the Trust. The Network aims to create a safe space to discuss, develop, challenge and act to promote race equality and diversity. One of the main aims is to help push back against the prejudice which has been embedded in the working environment. They do this by helping you improve your skills and improve your confidence to push yourself to higher points in your career progression. The organization hosts monthly check-ins for all its members, along with a book and film club. Their most recent project was a black-history month festival, to showcase all of the wonderful staff and different cultures here at the Trust.
Disability Network (Under 1 Label)
Fleur Goff-Beardsley and Catherine Gallop co-chair the Disability Staff Network which has relaunched this year. They aim to help give a voice to anyone at the trust who has a disability, along with helping to make life easier for them. Their main aim for the network is to reassess what exactly IS wellbeing within health. Their biggest success since relaunching has been their network reimbursement proposal. The Disability Staff Network co-wrote a proposal with their Execute Sponsor, Sally Flint, to ensure all SPFT staff including bank staff are reimbursed for their involvement in Staff Networks. This proposal was passed by the Board and is innovative within the NHS, particularly in paying bank staff for their involvement in our Staff Networks. The network meets both virtually and in person, so that the meetings are accessible to everyone.
The woman's network aims to tackle the career and work issues for women at all levels and dismantle the barriers to career progression that many women face. They do this by providing a supportive, listening environment to members and helping with any issues raised members of the network may have. They want to celebrate what women can bring to the workplace and the wealth of experience they can tap into. In their meetings, they discuss a range of topics, from career progression and barriers to training opportunities. The meetings are also a safe space to speak about experiences of discrimination in the workplace, along with ways to help support you through those times. On one of their regular drop-ins, it was highlighted that menopause was a big issue for many women, an issue that members often didn't feel comfortable about talking to their manager. This led to them setting up a Menopause Conference to be held on the 15th December 2021. This event will have a talk from GP and Accredited Menopause Specialist, Dr Zoe Schaedel and a session from Dr Mihaela Bucur about lifestyle changes and the menopause.
The Neurodivergent Staff Network offers monthly drop-ins online for neurodivergent and neurodivergent-ally staff members. A neurodivergent person is someone whose brain works a bit different to what society considers 'normal'. The members want to advocate, support and celebrate staff with these little differences. The network is always looking for ways to support our neurodivergent staff members at work in a multitude of ways. They have previously put together a successful bid to fund a staff ADHD and ASC clinic within Sussex Neurodevelopmental Service, and are currently working on both a film, and training for staff at the Trust around neurodiversity. All staff are welcome to attend these meetings, regardless of neuro-type. The team also welcomes anyone who believes that they might be neurodivergent.
The Spirituality Network is open to anyone interested in spirituality and hopes to give a voice to staff at the trust. It aims to give staff a way to give feedback on policies and services which might affect people of faith and spirituality. It also seeks to offer support to staff in terms of communication, discussion and resources. Recently a discussion about the Trust's spiritual rooms was actioned as a result of this by the Trust Accommodation Committee to resolve some issues around accessibility and use of these rooms.
VaLE (Valuing Lived Experience) Mental Health Staff Network
The VaLE network aims to tackle the stigma around mental health and work. VaLE stands for Valuing Lived Experience and is for all staff at the partnership who have lived experience with mental health issues, be it from their own experiences, or someone they know being diagnosed. They offer meetings and events to help highlight the value that these experiences can bring to our practice and job roles.
Lastly, we have our newest network, so new it hasn't even started yet! As part of our expansion for staff health and wellbeing, we are going to be launching a Wellbeing Network, including wellbeing champions, mental health ambassadors and mental health first aiders across the Trust. They are actively seeking people to join the network, so if you decide you come work for us why not send a message?
All staff can join as many of the networks as they would like; you can be as involved as much or as little you want to be. We also welcome allies and individuals who are passionate about the Equality, Diversity and Individuality that each of the networks represent. The trust wants to make sure that everyone who works for us feels like they belong, no matter who they are.