Including everyone matters
Why do we do what we do? The community and voluntary sector is a place where people come to do good and make a difference. We are motivated by how our efforts can improve lives and create change. Jobs in our sector are often for low (or no) pay and we know how far we can make the slightest resources stretch. Amid all of that it might feel hard to step outside ourselves and really interrogate where we need to change or find the energy to do better.
But if we want to experience the benefits of including everyone and access the full potential of our County and its residents then we must do better. We need to move beyond equity, diversity and inclusion as a tick box and instead apply it to our daily thinking and behaviours. There should be no descriptions of “hard to reach” groups and people, only a determination to break down barriers and enable everyone to access the tools they need to support each other.
That’s why alongside other organisations in Oxfordshire OCVA is committed to recognising the very real problems of exclusion and lack of diversity which exist in our sector. We understand the restrictions these issues place on our ability to truly tackle inequality and build community infrastructure that works for everyone and we will work with others to address this by taking collective and personal steps.
For OCVA that means ensuring that we will consider equity, diversity and inclusion across every aspect of our training, support and advice offer and embed these principles into our volunteer brokerage service. We will work to ensure that support and training for others to address these issues is accessible and affordable whatever the size or shape of organisation and we will learn alongside you.
As a person with a leadership role within the community and voluntary sector and in recognition of the power I hold, I commitment to:
- Question which representative groups are missing from the conversation and take steps to include them
- Make space for those with lived experience
- Work to ensure that OCVA communications, publications and other media include a diverse array of voices
- Educate myself and my organisation on barriers to engagement with communications to ensure that everyone can access our information, support and advice
- Open doors for others to self-advocate and develop their own leadership
I will encourage others to thinks about these issues too and engage in collaboration and shared practice.
Through these public commitments I hope to see our organisations reflect back the diversity of our communities and look forward to the things we will go on to achieve together.
Laura Price, CEO, OCVA