Identity – and why I’m determined to tackle all forms of racism

People adding jigsaw pieces to a person's head. Sense Chief Executive reflects on his own identity.

Last week, a report was published that highlighted the lack of diversity at the top of the 50 leading charities in the country. Sense is one of those charities and I have spoken before about the need for the sector to address this, and I am determined to address it head on at Sense.

As part of the report I was surveyed, an experience I found problematic, and it made me reflect on my own identity and how the way in which people perceive me has shaped how I see myself.

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Director of HR, Alison Bennett reflects on 30 years at Sense

HRH Princess Royal with a group of people at the Sense Finsbury Park office, including Alison Bennett, who has spent 30 years at Sense.

30 long years ago, three of my closest friends phoned me, independently of each other, to tell me that there was a job advert in the Guardian that I had to apply for. It was for a role at a charity I hadn’t heard of, Sense, supporting their holidays programme for children and adults with complex disabilities.

Fast forward to this week, and I’m about to celebrate my 30-year anniversary at Sense.

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Rathin and Ryan – Buddying

Freesia and Rathin on a Zoom call.
Rathin and Freesia on Zoom call

Rathin who is 19 was referred by his mother, Roshan, who approached Sense via the Information and Advice service. Rathin had been expressing to his mum that he had been feeling lonely and wanted to connect with people his age and pursue his interests. The Buddying Team met with Rathin at college and he spoke at length about things he enjoyed; specifically busses, travel, cinema but, most importantly, his desire to make some friends outside of his family. Rathin absolutely above all, enjoyed chatting and was hoping to meet someone to support him in navigating teenage anxiety, explore options for his future career, move into adulthood and meet some new people.

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We’re in this together

Two girls hugging with smiles

Throughout the lockdown, we have all been finding new and interesting ways to connect with one another. Social interaction has been incredibly important for everyone’s mental health, wellbeing and sense of connection. Across the country, the people we support have been finding amazing ways to stay in each other’s lives and supporting each other when loneliness starts setting in.

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“I had to get my point across that the Government has ‘fallen foul’ of its responsibilities”

A screenshot of the parliamentlive.tv website with a group of people having a meeting.

During my time at Sense I have had the opportunity to attend lots of events and meetings to represent my community and speak on behalf of other Deafblind people. None quite so nerve wracking as a live streamed, virtual, parliamentary committee meeting though!

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Take Pride

Pride flag

June is Pride month. It marks the continuing importance of promoting the dignity, equality, and increased visibility of people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) community. Pride and self-affirmation are the focus, counteracting the ‘shame’ and ‘stigma’ that many individuals have previously felt or been made to feel.

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We’re in this together

Two people holding hands.

Throughout the lockdown, we have all been finding new and interesting ways to connect with one another. Social interaction has been incredibly important for everyone’s mental health, wellbeing and sense of connection. Across the country, the people we support have been finding amazing ways to stay in each other’s lives and supporting each other when loneliness starts setting in.

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The Welsh Connection

Staff at Sense TouchBase Cymru taking part in a sociable Zoom meeting.

Every Thursday, we rally together and clap for our carers. During this time, key workers all over the UK have been doing an incredible job, not only by supporting the nation but by giving us all hope. Kate Wright, the manager of Sense TouchBase Cymru, is incredibly proud of her entire team and the way that they have responded to the lockdown.

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