We caught up with the co-chairs of the current LJMU staff networks to find out what they have already achieved and what their plans are for 2022.
When and what made you originally join your staff network?
Denise Lee, Co-Chair, BAME Staff Network: I joined the network in 2018. As a minority staff, I wanted to join together with others to discuss common challenges that we faced and to provide/ be involved in a safe environment to support like-minded people.
Bee Hughes, Co-Chair, LGBT+ Staff Network: Being gender non-conforming can be isolating at times, and I wanted to be able to have a sense of community with other queer colleagues and give back to that community too.
Jenny Craddock, Co-Chair, Disability Network: I wanted to join the Disability Network and be part of a group with those who knew how difficult it is to live with disabilities. I also wanted to ensure there was support for all these staff and to make a positive impact, as this can be a struggle on a daily basis.
Zoe Knowles, Co-Chair, Women’s Academic Network: I have been a member of WAN from its start. I wanted to have opportunity to understand matters that affect female academic staff in their day to day working and career progression. It was also important for me to pay forward some support/mentoring that I have received over the years at LJMU.
What do you feel the staff network has achieved?
Atif Waraich, Co-Chair, BAME Staff Network: We provided valuable mutual support through the Covid period; we campaigned successfully for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation on the Professors and Readers conferment committee; members have contributed to the Race Equality Charter submission and the Decolonizing the Curriculum initiative. We have spoken to members of ELT on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic issues and taken part in the highly successful Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme.
Bee Hughes, Co-Chair, LGBT+ Staff Network: Since its founding, the network has worked hard to represent LGBTQIA+ people and issues within the university, to champion our communities, and to create links with the wider Merseyside queer community.
Helen Pottle, Co-Chair, Disability Network: The network has achieved a great deal. It has created a community for its members, a social space, friendships, and a supportive space. It has given staff with disabilities a voice; participating in consultations and conversations such as Respect Always, building accessibility, and the institutional Code of Practice for REF2021. The network has campaigned for its members, most recently achieving reinstatement of free parking for Blue Badge holders (in conjunction with the trade unions). We have a great track record in hosting events (open to the whole LJMU community) such as Tea and Sympathy sessions during Wellbeing Week and World Mental Health Day, and guest speaker sessions to mark Disability History Month and International Day of Disabilities.
Zoe Knowles, Co-Chair, Women’s Academic Network: I am very proud of the Womens Progressions event we have ran twice and the impact that has had on applications for Conferment. Likewise, we have influenced policy around maternity and that of inclusion of menopause as a recognised personal circumstance for consideration on conferment applications. Support for the Advance HE Senior Leadership Programme for Women is also a welcome initiative for the Networks.
What does your staff network have planned in 2022?
Atif Waraich, Co-Chair, BAME Staff Network: We have held a workshop on promotion to Prof and Reader and intend to reach out to other BAME staff networks as well as inviting colleagues to speak to us about similar work in other HEIs.
Bee Hughes, Co-Chair LGBT+ Staff Network: We are planning to spend some time reflecting on the history of the network, and work on re-building the more tangible sense of community developed pre-pandemic.
Helen Pottle, Co-Chair Disability Network: We want to keep going with the work we are already doing, but there is more that we want to do! Jenny (my fellow Co-Chair) and I want to grow the network, increase its visibility, and get more information out into the LJMU community. We want to help staff to disclose their disabilities, so they can get the support they need. And we want to continue providing a supportive, safe space for our members.
Zoe Knowles, Co-Chair Disability Network: We have some projects on the table including term time contracts, flexible working and sabbaticals and we have an excellent link to HR through Amanda Mannion. However, we like to be responsive and allow space on agendas and events for matters arising from members.
Staff Network members play central roles in our University. They assist the University with reviewing progress against the University’s EDI Priority Areas and Action plan, sharing best practice in EDI and organising several social networking events throughout each year.
If you would like to join any of the networks, please email firstname.lastname@example.org