Diversity in action through LJMU's Staff Disability Network



Martin Coulby, the Co-Chair of the LJMU Disability Network, tells us about his lived experience with mental health and the work of the network.

Diversity

I have a range of issues, as we all do, but for me the one that has the biggest impact on my life is anxiety. I was diagnosed many years ago with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). In a nutshell this means I feel extremely anxious most days, find it very difficult to maintain regular sleep patterns and on occasion suffer panic attacks. As this is a long term condition that affects my day-to-day life quite dramatically, I am classed as disabled. A term that didn’t always sit comfortably with me, but one that I am happy I chose to finally embrace.

The reason I initially had difficulty describing myself as disabled was not because of the stigma that sadly still exists with the term, but because quite simply, I am able to manage my condition for the most part, and therefore I felt like a fraud. Through a combination of medication, lifestyle choices, awareness of my condition and plenty of effort, I am able to minimise the effects and get on with my life. I still have to explain to colleagues that I may need to arrive early for a meeting to ensure I can sit in a specific part of the room, and occasionally need to offer an alternative approach to solving problems due to how my anxiety would react to the current suggested approach, but I am able to fully contribute, and often bring a new perspective to discussions because of my GAD.

The point I am making is that disabled people work hard to manage their conditions, and with a small amount of understanding from those around them, are often able to flourish and bring their talents, ideas and viewpoints to the table. The diversity at LJMU is undoubtedly one of its biggest strengths and celebrating the unique contributions of its disabled staff is a key part of that.

Providing disabled staff with a voice and helping them discover the confidence to use that voice is something I strongly believe benefits all concerned, and is why I am so passionate about our Staff Disability Network here at LJMU.

Meeting 3-4 times per year, the LJMU Staff Disability Network supports the strategic aim of being a University “…that provides a fair, supportive and encouraging working and learning environment with which students and staff engage responsibly.” Further to this, we assist the University with reviewing progress against the Disability Equality Objectives and consult on various University policies, in short, we ensure that disabled staff have a voice.

All members of LJMU staff are free to join the Network, so whether you have a disability, or whether you simply want to help champion the rights and celebrate the contributions of disabled members of staff, we would love to hear from you.

For more information or to join the network please email equality@ljmu.ac.uk.



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