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Celebrating International Women's Day

08 Mar 24

It is International Women's Day and every year this serves as a powerful reminder of the progress made towards gender equality and highlights the work that still needs to be done.

The theme for this year’s celebration is Inspire Inclusion, calling for action to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued and respected. Inspire Inclusion encourages everyone to recognise the unique perspectives and contributions of women from all walks of life.

To truly include women means to openly embrace their diversity of race, age, ability, faith, body image, and how they identify.

As a Trust we are celebrating the day with an exciting event featuring inspiring speakers.

We spoke to colleagues across the Trust about why we should celebrate. Some told us:

Don't think about making women fit the world- think about making the world fit women.”

“Strength, determination, courage and independence.”

The event includes a Keynote Speech from Sharon Platt-McDonald, Director for Women, Health and Community at One Vision and HPFT’s Dr Indermeet Sawhney, Consultant Psychiatrist & Clinical Director Learning Disability Services who will be talking about inclusion and neurodiversity.

There are also talks from women who are sharing their own personal journeys. Dawn is the advanced lived experience development lead for knowledge and understanding framework (KUF) training in Hertfordshire.

I have a lived experience of mental health difficulties and I used HPFT’s community, crisis, and inpatient services on and off for about 15 years. It was a conscious decision I made to come and work for the Trust that I received my care and treatment from.

“To some extent, people could say that my being here, in the role that I have, is an inspiration to others and shows that recovery is possible, that hope exists, that opportunities can be found, and that a life worth living is achievable.

There are two main reasons I took this post. One was so that I could play my part in ensuring that, learning from my experiences, other people who use HPFT services get the best experience possible. For me, if one member of staff attends the training that I deliver and gains a better understanding of the challenges that people with mental health issues face, and that ultimately leads to the people using services having a better experience, then I have achieved what I set out to do.

“The other reason lies hugely under the banner of inclusion. As someone who spent many years using services, I experienced the stigma and discrimination that seemed to be attached to my diagnostic label, and because of that stigma and discrimination, I also experienced exclusion. The real irony for me and others like me is that we are already aware that we are different from those around us. We may struggle to navigate and manage some elements of everyday life, so being told that we are different just perpetuates that cycle and sense of exclusion.

“So how do we break that cycle? We educate, we listen, we learn, we promote and demonstrate kindness, care and compassion and we embrace difference and diversity. By creating roles like the one I have, the lived experience role, we challenge that stigma and discrimination head-on by enabling people to bring their whole selves to the work.”

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