Trust staff celebrate being able to bring themselves to work

17 August 2017

CNWL staff networks hosted a Bring Yourself to Work Day on 15 August to encourage staff to bring their whole self to work.

Staff shared things about themselves that their colleagues did not know and talked about how it can be difficult sometimes to open up at work.

The event was launched by Claire Murdoch, CNWL Chief Executive, who said: “Today is about working together tomake our Trust a great place to be in pursuit of more loving, more creative services. The only way you really deliver great care is to understand the individual and use your life experience at work.”

Claire Murdoch, CNWL Chief Executive

Claire Murdoch, CNWL Chief Executive

There was a panel discussion with the LGBT+ Staff Network co-chairs David Van De Velde and Jessica Ali; BME Staff Network co-chairs J’nelle James and Ayo Ogunkolade, Sian Aylett, Co-chair of the Carers Network and.Pippa Dawson, Deputy Mental Health Law Manager and Disabled Employees Network Committee Member. The panel answered questions around the challenges of being yourself at work including coming to work balancing responsibilities – like being a carer.

Sian Aylett said: “The theme for today really resonated with me. I'm not a full time carer but adhoc I am. Some people are fearful of how they will be perceived at work - if they need time off or if they will be considered differently. For some people it's private and personal and they don't want to share but others want to, including me and this opens up opportunity for support and information.” 

Jessica Ali, who works as a Graphic Designer for the Trust, agreed: “It’s

Staff Networks panel

Staff Networks panel

so much easier to be open. This is the first workplace I’ve been ‘out’ at work and I’m proudly bisexual now. It’s important to take notice and people will reveal what they want to reveal.”

It helps patients too as David Van de Velde, Ward Manager at St Charles Hospital, confirmed: “With the launch of our rainbow lanyards it's been really good for patients on my ward to have a safe listening ear. They open up to me.”

Ayo Ogunkolade, Head of Information, has found that staff open up to her too in her position as BME Co-chair: “If you’re BME you just stand out, it’s the one thing you can't hide …so it's about enjoying and celebrating who you are. That’s what we encourage through the networks.

“I have a Christian middle name and as beautiful as Christian names are I'm proud of being called Ayo as it resonates with me. Ayo means joy…That's who I am.”

The panel was joined by Robyn Doran, CNWL Chief Operating Officer and Executive Lead for the Staff Networks, who said: “I've grown up in this Trust and I could be in all the networks. I was a founder member of the LGBT+ Network, ethnically I’m from New Zealand, I’m dyslectic and I recently cared for my sister before she sadly passed away. I'm very proud of what we do and there is a genuine commitment from the Board to diversity.

At the event there were a series of seminars, including

Faith and LGBT+ Discussion panel with Stephen Chamberlain from One body One faith

Peter David Smith, a CNWL Programme Manager, was joined by Stephen Chamberlain, Patient Governor for the Trust, to facilitate what was to be an open and lively debate about bringing your faith to work. Stephen began by introducing himself, explaining that as a practising Christian and secular St. Francis Monk his faith represented to him a code of behaviour. It was a law by which he would always help people in need and behave in a way that was kind and generous. The group then proceeded to list the different faiths and talked about what it would mean for all people of all practising faiths to bring that element of themselves into the workplace. 


Stephen Chamberlain spoke about the notion of “all faiths breaking bread together” meaning that although the faith population of CNWL is very diverse we are able to work peacefully together, and treat the beliefs of one another with care and respect. The group discussed the potential issues and conflicts that could arise with religion and the workplace, but agreed that the compassion and care which exists at the heart of all faiths aligns with our values at CWNL. 

As Peter David Smith explained, “What we mean by bringing your faith to work is bringing that caring aspect of your faith that is fundamental to the way you are going to deliver your care in the NHS.”

Stop Hate UK – “Whatever they call you, call us”

Mike Ainsworth, Director of London Services Stop Hate UK, spoke about hate crime and revealed that while it is still under-reported in the UK, the UK has the highest number of reported incidents – indicating that it is being taken

Mike Ainsworth, Stop Hate UK

Mike Ainsworth, Stop Hate UK

seriously in the country. 

Hate crimes are any crimes that are targeted at a person because of hostility or prejudice towards that person’s:

  • Disability
  • race or ethnicity
  • religion or belief
  • sexual orientation
  • transgender identity

It has a significantly greater impact on the victim and can affect community cohesion, he said, adding that it could take place anywhere.

He explained the context behind the current UK legislation and explained the role of Stop Hate UK, which attempts to challenge all forms of Hate Crime and discrimination, based on any aspect of an individual’s identity.

He urged anyone who had been a victim of a hate crime to report it.

Transgender experience of healthcare

Jesse Ashman from Gendered Intelligence (GI) hosted a workshop about transgender experience of healthcare including when trying to access Gender Identity Services (GIS).

GI is a not-for-profit organisation who work with and support people who identify as trans. Their mission is to increase understanding of gender diversity. According to the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES), there are an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 trans people in the UK.

Staff enjoying our interesting workshops

Some trans people find it difficult accessing NHS services because they identify themselves as a non-binary gender. A non-binary gender is someone who does not see themselves as a male or a female and sometimes it means that they cannot access treatment, such as surgery, easily.

People who are in conflict with their gender can suffer from emotional and wellbeing difficulties and socials stigma. Suicide rates are at 84% but this dramatically reduces to 3% once a person has passed through GIS and has had a gender transition.