Parents have spoken of their wishes to build a centre for children with autism.

Aaron and Rachael Pearson are looking to raise £50,000 for the Autism Inclusion Centre. The couple, from Denmead, have a son with the condition and want to expand on Rachael’s charity Autism Isolation No More which she runs from their front room.The centre will create a place where children with autism and their families can go to have fun and relax.

Aaron and Rachael’s plans come just days after the pair were both successful in winning national awards. Rachael won the Positive Role Model for Gender Award at the National Diversity Awards after she turned their living room into a sensory space for youngsters with autism.Meanwhile, Aaron won £10,000 worth of building materials after winning Jewson’s Building Better Communities Trade Hero 2018 award.

Rachael said: ‘We want to try and buy a piece of land so we can build a log cabin and move all our services from our living room there. ‘There will be a place for all the sensory equipment and children and families can go in and relax, parents can chat and join in a play session and stay for longer.’At the moment I can only work with families on an individual basis but I want to hold group events.

That’s beneficial for the children because social interaction is more enjoyable for them.’A number of Rachael’s family members are autistic including her two sons, her brother and nephew.She added: ‘I saw the lack of support my mother had with children with autism, it affected my life. If she had support there are so many things that could have been different.

‘As a parent of a child with autism you can feel lonely, the sleep deprivation is awful.’I provide support for parents and want them to know they’re not alone, I’ll never judge.’

Rachael and Aaron will use the prize from Jewson to help start the log cabin but need funds to get it off the ground. Aaron said: ‘We’ve got the building materials now we’re basically trying to get the project off the ground.‘It’s a mission we both have and it would fulfil us.’

Anyone wishing to donate should visit autismisolationnomore.com.

Source – Written by Ellie Pilmoor & Tamara Siddiqui as featured in The News – https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/health/denmead-parents-call-for-donations-to-help-build-autism-children-s-centre-1-8647460

Mental Health and Wellbeing Charity Touchstone ranked number 1 for a second year in a row on The Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers List earlier this year, showcasing exceptional levels of representation across all protected characteristics at Senior Management, Executive and Board level. The Leeds based charity was born in 1982 after it was acknowledged that large numbers of vulnerable people were left feeling isolated and distressed. More than 30 years on and Touchstone provide services to over 6,000 people per year, aiming to make the cities they work in more culturally competent. Their strong submission showcases phenomenal commitment to diversity across various topics including recruitment, training, community initiatives, employee engagement and mentoring schemes. Evidence provided is a testament to Touchstone’s passion and determination to putting equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of the charity.

We spoke with Alison Lowe, CEO at Touchstone after they won The Diverse Company Award at The National Diversity Awards 2018. Here’s what she had to say:

What were your thoughts on the other shortlisted nominees within your category?

We were really blown away to be included alongside the quality shortlisted nominees and actually thought we would not win.

What were your thoughts after winning The Diverse Company of the Year Award?

Amazed, delighted and determined to keep up the hard work of making Touchstone, and everywhere we operate, the best and most inclusive place we can.  We recognise we can’t change the world – but we can change our little bit of it – and we will whilst ever we have the passion and resources to do so.

What reaction have you received from supporters/fellow employees since winning the award?

Our staff are really proud of our achievement and they tell us it spurs them on to be part of the inclusion solution everyday.  We have been inundated with good will and messages of support from a wide range of partners and stakeholders who are delighted for us, but also for the credit this brings on the communities we work in and with.

Now that you have won a National Diversity Award, where are you going to go from here? What are your next steps?

We are asking our Diversity Action Group to review the application we submitted to identify where we can improve in time for our next submission in 2019.  We have already identified areas of good practice from other organisations around disability practice, for example, which we are going to introduce at Touchstone to increase our inclusion practice even more.

In your own words, how do you feel the work you are carrying out is making a difference?

We feel that Touchstone is a safe place to work and receive services.  We are passionate about bringing our vision of an inclusive world for all to the widest audience possible – and by showcasing our successes on platforms such as NDA – we are spreading the love and the message that hope wins through.

Why do you think it is important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion?

Because we all matter.  We all have hearts that can be broken and hope that can be extinguished by a cruel or unthinking word. Inclusion means we give hope the heat it needs to catch fire and burn bright – long after that person is no longer here – to inspire others to do great things in the world and give life to our vision of an inclusive world.

Who or What is your inspiration?

People who can forgive and move on to be their best whilst expecting the best from others.  I suppose Nelson Mandela personifies this most aptly but anyone really who has experienced hate or injustice because of who they are but who combats this with passion and love.

What were your thoughts on The National Diversity Awards Ceremony? Did you enjoy your evening?

The National Diversity Awards were amazing.  The setting was majestic and stunning and we felt like VIPs all night long – the goody bags certainly were popular too. There was world class entertainment that met a diverse range of needs and tastes and the food was scrumptious!  We will certainly be there in 2019.

 

The ADHD Foundation is the largest ‘user led’ ADHD agency in Europe and is credited with influencing policy and provision in the UK for those living with ADHD and co existing conditions. The Foundation’s work in promoting scientific evidence, UK and European impact reports and tireless campaigning, have helped to change attitudes and reduce stigma, improving life chances for those with ADHD. One brilliant example of their campaigning was the Umbrella Project, involving children with ADHD and autism, celebrating their gifts, talents and employability and the installation of a public art project of hundreds of brightly coloured umbrellas above the streets of Liverpool and Salford. This went viral globally, attracting over 30 million media hits. The largest provider of training for professionals and schools in the UK, the Foundation enjoys dynamic partnerships with other charities, agencies and businesses nationally.

We spoke with Dr Tony Lloyd CEO at ADHD Foundation after they won The Community Organisation Award for Disability at The National Diversity Awards 2018. Here’s what they had to say:

What were your thoughts on the other shortlisted nominees within your category?

All the nominees were deserving of recognition for their work and dedication.

What were your thoughts after winning The Community Organisation Award for Disability?

As an organisation that has worked tirelessly in the past ten years to influence the ‘national conversation’ around ADHD, we were absolutely delighted – not just for us but especially for the ADHD community in the UK.

ADHD affects 1 in 20 people. Many live happily and successfully with ADHD – but many don’t.  We know for example that 40% experience anxiety and depression, that 18% self harm, that over 30% have co-occurring high functioning autism,  over 70% have another co-occurring learning difficulty.   All these challenges are often not seen or understood by the public, by schools, even by family doctors such is the level of stigma and discrimination about the condition.

It is therefore often impossible  for people to learn how to live successfully with a ‘neurodiversity’ that others – and those in public services dismiss as ‘A  problem relating to children who don’t know how to behave’.

Our strength based approach, challenges  a deficit model of intelligence aim to ‘enable’ those who are ‘disabled’  by a narrow view of intelligence, giftedness, talent and employability. Enabling those with ADHD to see themselves as ‘different’ but not ‘ less than’ – while at the same time trying to influence policy and provision  so that the vulnerability is supported – especially in childhood , has been a unique challenge for us as a user led charity.

Winning this award is testament to the fact that we have influenced hearts and minds, we have influenced other professionals and that we have influenced the media in particular, to promote the concept of ‘neurodiversity’ and in so doing encouraged and supported those in public life to be more openly honest about living with ADHD and showcasing  living successfully with ADHD.  The ND Awards have helped to raise public awareness of the issue, break down stigma and hopefully enable others to recognise that they,  or someone they know, may have ADHD so they can ‘name it, accept it, manage it, get support for it when they need it, celebrate it, live successfully with it – and not be defined or disabled by it.

What reaction have you received from supporters/fellow employees since winning the award?

Overwhelmingly positive! It’s a bit early to say exactly what impact this has had yet.  We hope this award will make others listen to our message, gain support and benefit from what we do.

We hope also that charitable Trusts, employee giving schemes and Corporate & Social Responsibility Directors will consider our charity as an organisation worthy of their support in the future.

As a charity, ADHD has never attracted popular support and certainly we have never generated very much financial resources through  unrestricted donations – but this has begun to change in the past three years.

Most of all, we are genuinely thankful for the recognition and appreciation of who we are, what we do and why and how do it. Somehow, it validates the effort, sacrifice and commitment of so many staff and volunteers.  There is a long way to go we know, this award is a wonderful milestone on the journey!

Now that you have won a National Diversity Award, where are you going to go from here? What are your next steps?

We are a growing organisation and as a charity we have a strong business model to ensure our sustainability –  we don’t measure success based on how much funding we have, but on the impact we have and the difference we make…

We are nominated for European Awards Charity of the Year – that really would be truly wonderful and help put ADHD in the spotlight of national conversation – so we are delighted to be a finalist and hopefully a winner in that.  We didn’t have a template to follow and we have been incredibly fortunate in so many ways so for us we will hopefully be able to do more to help other ADHD support groups and charities across Europe to develop and support  many other children, families and adults.

Service transformation is a ‘constant’ for us so we are looking anew at how we improve everything we do – we are especially delighted that the Umbrella Project will also now happen in London, Manchester, Dublin and Liverpool next year – and in small ways in many schools across the UK. This will not only ensure there are big bright uplifting and colourful public art displays of umbrellas suspended above the street in other cities (and classrooms) but also that many children will as a directl result have lessons in schools about diversity – especially ‘neurodiversity’ and that they will understand what it means to live with ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and sensory processing difficulties – and celebrate neurodiversity!

In your own words, how do you feel the work you are carrying out is making a difference?

It is impossible  to measure this accurately – we provide a range of mental health and education services – mostly in the north west but we also provide training across the UK to schools and health professionals – we believe that ADHD, mental health and the ‘dignity of difference’ is everyone’s business – not just ours.  So… we aspire, through educating everyone, professionals, parents, children, service providers, commissioners, so that they are aware and understand the needs and potential of those with ADHD.

There are so many ‘creatives’ with ADHD, so many athletes, professional footballers, artists, musicians, marketeers, entrepreneurs – and so many waiting to realise their potential,  – hopefully what we do will help in some small way to achieve their goals in life and realise their potential.

It is more than just providing services and support – it is about making ‘neurodiversity’ valued by everyone – especially those who are neurodiverse.

Why do you think it is important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion?

We could write a book….. but ultimately it is about human evolution, humanity in its rich diversity of colour, race, ability, faith, sexuality, intelligences, innovation, vulnerability.. and humility.

We all do better when we know better. Highlighting diversity, equality and inclusion is about highlighting humanity in all its glorious colour and genius and celebrating that !

Who or What is your inspiration?

Every human being who carried with them a story of belonging, acceptance, triumph, brokenness, love, simplicity – greatness is not fame.

I personally always remember those who were ‘kind’ – throughout my entire life, kindness is the quality that has always stood out. For me it is the only measure. Kindness is imbued with integrity – it seeks nothing for itself, it is experienced not advertised and it transforms human beings who are fortunate enough to have received it and live in appreciation of it.

What were your thoughts on The National Diversity Awards Ceremony? Did you enjoy your evening?

A wonderful celebration – uplifting; I had a grin on my face the whole evening, my self and my colleagues and supporters where inspired by the individuals and organisations nominated – many who do unseen and unsung work – and this was their night.  Best awards event I have ever experienced.

..and very well organised!

A South Tyneside charity champ has narrowly missed out on receiving a lifetime achievement accolade at a glittering awards ceremony.

Founder of the Great North Dog Walk, Tony Carlisle was named as runner-up in the category at the National Diversity Awards held in Liverpool.

The event, held in The Anglican Cathedral, was attended by a number of celebrities – including actor Warwick Davis, known for playing characters Willow and Griphook in the Harry Potter films.

The 61-year-old, who has raised thousands for charity through his annual dog walk on the Leas, narrowly missed out taking the coveted award to GP Dr Lewis Turner who champions lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) causes. He said: “The energy in the Cathedral was electrifying on the night with around 500 individuals who had been chosen from almost 25,000 nominees.

“There were people there from all walks of life under one roof. The whole evening was a true display of unity, acceptance and togetherness. “I was proud to be shortlisted into a final group of eight. I would like to say thank you to everyone for their support and a special thank you to those individuals who took the time to nominate me.

“However, the highlight of the evening was meeting actor Warwick Davis. He won “Celebrity of the Year” and we spent several minutes chatting. He had read my biography in the posh programme and called me his Hero. I felt humbled yet elevated! Memories I will cherish. A true gentleman.”

The dad-of-three from South Shields, has been the organiser of the Great North Dog Walk in South Shields since its formation in 1990.

He was one of eight people nominated for a lifetime achievement in the awards which celebrate unity in society.

The awards – which are hailed as the UK’s grandest celebration of diversity – feature a range of categories such as the positive achievement award for age and positive role model award for gender.

In 28 years of the Great North Dog Walk, Mr Carlisle says £7.72million has been raised for a range of charities – with more to follow following this year’s event. Mr Carlisle says 33,149 dogs and 50,000 people took part in the latest Great North Dog Walk, which was held last month on the Leas, in South Shields.

This year’s event raised funds for the Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust – created as a lasting legacy to South Tyneside sweethearts Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry, who were killed in the Manchester Arena bomb attack last May.

Among the special guests was Oskar Gillstrom, who runs an annual walk in Stockholm, Sweden.

Mr Carlisle is set to start the race there next year.

Source: Written by Lisa Nightingale, as featured in The Shields Gazette – https://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/south-shields-charity-champ-narrowly-misses-out-on-top-national-award-1-9355325

 

‘Sarah is thinking again…’

Around a month ago I was nominated as a Positive Role Model in Mental Health at the National Diversity Awards.

I am a married mum of 2 girls, raising awareness for mental health. I have Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder & Generalised Anxiety Disorder. I have recently started blogging as therapy Sarah’s Blog.

I have suffered with depression & mental health for many years. I started my life long journey with anti-depressants at 16 & other than a few small breaks & now some extra medication thrown in for good luck, I’m still taking them.

Having already lost my husbands parents early into our family life, it was when I lost my mum in 2015 to ovarian cancer that I began to deteriorate. I then had a planned hysterectomy to reduce the risk, which also meant I went into early menopause at 32. I took on the Edinburgh Rat Race Mighty Deerstalker with 2 friends & raised over £2000 for Ovarian Cancer Action so she is on their tribute wall. I also lost my best friend to suicide in 2016 which was when my symptoms deepened further as I lost the 2 people closest to me. Last year, I took part in the Manchester half marathon, with a recent diagnosis of asthma, I did have to work for lots of it, but we raised over £800 for SOBS, survivors of those bereaved by suicide.

I work for an amazing charity called Good Things Foundation which helps people live better lives through digital. So we work with digital & social inclusion. I recently helped Sheffield Flourish & Sheffield Mental Health Guide with their Urgent Care website page & want to do more in my community & nationally. I want to set an example for my children & others to remove the stigma of mental health & also help raise awareness of therapy, suicide, ovarian cancer & bereavement. I share my experiences, hoping it will help others, but also enable people to speak out & find ways of seeking treatment & help quicker.

For Mental health awareness week I was interviewed on BBC Radio Sheffield with Toby Foster about my condition. I travelled to Oxford last month to take part in a clinical trial at the University of Psychiatry, which I will continue in June where I am have an MRI scan, all in the name of Borderline Personality Disorder/ Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder research.

I am now holding a local Wellbeing & Mental Health event in my village of Eckington, as I’m passionate about Social Inclusion. Not only have we got a range of organisations, charities & support services, but I have managed to get our local MP & the Lord Mayor of Sheffield to attend. The event is a real family event, with organisations for adults & children in 1st June.

Thankyou, Sarah x

Source: Sarah’s Thinking Again Blog


Unfortunately, Sarah did not make the short-list for the 2018 National Diversity Awards.

However we hope she continues to do her fantastic & inspirational blogs and maybe she can make the shortlist next year!

You can read more of Sarah’s inspirational blogs by visiting her website: https://sarahsthinkingagain.blog/

Ofcom boss Sharon White says broadcasters must act to attract wider range of talent.

Ethnic minorities, disabled people and women are all under-represented in the UK’s radio industry, according to a new report, prompting warnings that its output may be out of step with what modern British audiences want to hear.

According to research by the media regulator Ofcom just 6% of staff in the sector are non-white, far below the UK population average of 14%.

Although more than half of radio employees are women, they only occupy 37% of senior management roles in the industry and are almost completely absent from boardrooms.

“Our radio sector has a huge opportunity to extend its reach and relevance to the whole UK,” said the Ofcom chief executive, Sharon White. “Our radio industry must reflect the breadth of modern society and offer listeners engaging shows that speak directly to their lives and experiences. And to do this effectively broadcasters must take further action to attract a wider range of talent, both on and off air.”

The figures show that the radio industry is well behind television when it comes to ethnic diversity, although radio does employ a higher proportion of people with disabilities.

The study of nearly 9,000 staff focused on the UK’s three biggest broadcasting groups: the BBC; Global, which owns Capital and Classic FM; and Bauer, which runs stations including Absolute and Magic.

Ofcom praised the BBC for providing detailed statistics on the backgrounds of its staff, saying the commercial sector lagged behind the BBC in terms of diversity and needs to improve its data collection if it wants to change.

The regulator said that “overall, too many broadcasters are failing to fully understand or address the diversity problem” and called on radio groups to set clear diversity targets and make chief executives responsible for implementing them.

Source: The Guardian.

LGBT groups have called on the new minister for women and equalities to set a date for when key gender legislation will be reformed.

Currently, under the Gender Recognition Act 2004, transgender people can have their gender identity recognised and legally changed on their birth certificates.

But it means that people must go through what campaigners call ‘intrusive’ medical assessments, and long and bureaucratic interviews with psychiatrists.

Some 34 groups have now come together and written a letter to Penny Mordaunt, the new minister, calling for the act to be revised. In 2017, the then-equalities minister, Justine Greening, announced plans to launch the review, reports Pink News.

But since then, multiple departures from the position has meant the review has yet to materialise.

The current process requires trans people to have a formal diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and live in their ‘acquired gender’ for at least two years.

If their spouse vetoes the law, then they may be forced to delay or completely annul their applications.

And non-binary people are not recognised under the law. In the letter, they say that the consultation being delayed ‘is having a massively detrimental effect on one of the UK’s most marginalised groups’.

Source – Written by Kate Buck, Featured in The Metro – http://metro.co.uk/2018/05/07/government-under-pressure-to-reform-vital-transgender-laws-7528227/

 

 

 

 

Two key issues for Psychology have been confirmed by a survey of progress towards gender equality in Psychology departments across the UK.

Our Research Board conducted the survey, in collaboration with the Social Justice and Inclusion Task Force, as part of its work to further the principles set out in the Athena SWAN Charter.

It was conducted in the spring of 2017 and there were 16 responses from Psychology schools and departments across the UK.

The survey collected examples of good practice in five areas:

  • Teaching practice
  • Research
  • Administration
  • Transgender issues
  • Intersectionality

The survey report has now been published by the society.

It also suggests ways in which the Society can help progress on the two key issues it identifies.

To increase the number of senior female academics, it suggests we should provide guidance on gender-blind recruitment.

To increase the male undergraduate intake it suggests we should lobby for changes to pre-tertiary syllabus and conduct a survey on how psychology is viewed by school students.

Dr Sue Sherman, who oversaw the survey, says:

“Despite the moderate response rate, the survey came up with examples of good practice that can be shared, particularly by schools and departments that have yet to apply for an Athena SWAN award. The issues and barriers we identified are likely to be experienced by many of them.

“The BPS could work with existing psychology networks around Athena SWAN and diversity to promote the sharing of good practice and it has an important role in promoting psychology at pre-tertiary level through its Standing Committee for Pre-tertiary Education.”

Source: www.BPS.org

Joshua Beckford is recognised internationally in over 90 countries for his extraordinary educational achievements.

A 12-year-old child Prodigy who is diagnosed with Autism, Joshua has already achieved more than most neuro-typical people in the world. At 2 years old, he quickly mastered reading fluently using phonics and was speaking Japanese by the age of 3. At the age of 6 he became the youngest person in the world to study Philosophy and History at Oxford University, gaining a distinction in both subjects. Joshua enjoys fund-raising for three Autism Charities, one in the U.K and two in Africa, and campaigns to save the environment. Last year, he wrote and presented a Poem ‘Saving Mother Earth’ at the TED x International Conference in Vienna. Joshua also designs and delivers Power-Point presentations on Human Anatomy at Community fund-raising events to audiences ranging from 200 to 3,000 people. We spoke with Joshua after he won The Positive Role Model Award for Age at The National Diversity Awards 2017. Here’s what he had to say:

What were your thoughts on the other shortlisted nominees within your category?

Congratulations to all those Short- listed and each category of winners. They are the most incredible inspiring people who all deserve to be recognised for making a difference to people’s lives all over the U.K.

What were your thoughts after winning The Positive Role Model Award for Age?

I was so excited and happy. Although I have won many awards I still find it hard to believe that I won the National Diversity Positive Role Model for Age. During the announcements I closed my eyes and crossed my fingers and when I opened my eyes I heard my name being called as the winner. It was also so exciting to be dining in Liverpool Cathedral.

What reaction have you received from supporters/fellow employees since winning the award?

Lots of people has been sending me congratulations on social media. I saw that I was mentioned on the front page of the Liverpool Echo Newspaper and page 10 of the Voice. Just after the award I was shortlisted for yet another award from the Black British Entertainment Awards (BBE) and I was interviewed by Rosie Osbourne who interviews inspirational artists from around the world. An art dealer who owns an Art Gallery has purchased on of my drawings for his private collection. It’s really exciting to have my drawing displayed alongside famous adult artists in a Gallery. I am also featured in a new magazine called Stories of Success (S.O.S) produced by Black Youth Achievement and sponsored by University College London (UCL). This magazine highlights the success stories of African and African Caribbean people. 5,000 hard copies will be distributed Schools, Colleges and Universities across the U.K.

Now that you have won a National Diversity Award, what are you going to go from here? What are your next steps?

The National Diversity Award has allowed me to continue to inspire even more people. I am getting more speaking invitations than I can comfortably fit in. I have been invited to speak to young children who are running their own business at Price water House Cooper Offices in London Bridge

In your own words, how do you feel the work you are carrying out is making a difference?

I think that my story is making a big difference to children everywhere who read about me. We get lots of positive comments on social media each day. It difficult to reply to all the comments. I have even appeared on an American Health website called Hearty Soul which has 2 million subscribers.

Why do you think it is important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion?

It’s important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion because it reflects how the world really is and it gives companies and organisations who promote Diversity, Equality and Inclusion an advantage over their competitors.

Who or What is your inspiration?  

My greatest inspiration is the ancient Egyptian father of Medicine and Multi-Genius Imhotep who lived 2,700 BC and my dad who taught me from when I was very young. This give me the confidence to dream big and know that I can achieve virtually anything.

The National Diversity Awards 2017 Post Awards Winners Interview What were your thoughts on The National Diversity Awards Ceremony?

I find the National Diversity Awards Winners interviews very inspiring. It was the largest collection of the most incredible people who are all helping to make the world a better place in one room. The ceremony was “out of this world” It’s the Golden Globe Awards for ordinary people to be recognised and treated like celebrities for making a difference to the lives of others. The Awards Ceremony will help to start to make positive change in the world.

Did you enjoy your evening?

I really enjoyed the evening which I will never forget. Everyone was looking smart and the entertainment was excellent. Just sorry I wasn’t allowed to go to the party because I was too young.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon spoke to The Voice about diversity in the armed forces and celebrating our war heroes.

DEFENCE SECRETARY Sir Michael Fallon has highlighted the importance of diversity in the British Armed Forces and acknowledged the contribution of African and Caribbean soldiers during WW1 and WW2, in celebration of Black History Month.

Speaking to The Voice, he said: “The contribution of troops from Africa and the West Indies who served in both world wars deserve to be known, and reminds us of the ongoing contribution of African and Caribbean communities to this country.”

Fallon also discussed the importance of pushing for a higher number of ethnic minorities enlisting for service. He said: “We’re committed to making sure our forces better represent the society they serve and promoting our national prosperity.”

These comments echoed his plans to increase at least 10 per cent of all new joiners who must come from a non-white background – which would represent a 2% increase on the current number. “We’re currently at 8% and we are increasing but we still have work to do. I ask my senior chiefs to provide me with updates on how we’re doing and what we’re doing to get there and this is of the utmost importance.”

He also revealed that the army has already reached that 10% figure, while the RAF and royal navy are working hard to reach their quota. “We want people to join the military based completely on their ability, and the armed forces is open to people from all backgrounds.”

Fallon said he wants to see a marked improvement by the end of 2020, and denied that this could be targeted as “tokenism”.

“This isn’t about tokenism, it’s about attracting the brightest and the best for all.” He also discussed the steady increase of recruiting those from BME backgrounds, and the importance of introducing schemes to improve minority representation at the most senior ranks. “I want to see people from BME backgrounds take up senior positions. Why should we not see someone from the BME community become Chief of the Air staff or Chief of Defence Staff? There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to achieve that. Addressing diversity at every level is something we are working towards, and we aim to see this increase by 2020.”

While diversity continues to remain at the forefront, he also celebrated modern-day war hero Johnson Beharry for his contribution to the British Armed Forces. Grenadian-born Beharry became the first solider to join the new Armed Forces credit union, and was awarded the Victoria Cross in 2005 after saving the lives of 30 soldiers in Iraq.

Promoting diversity across the British Armed Forces continues to be of importance, as Fallon attended the launch of the African and Caribbean War Memorial at Windrush Square in Brixton. The memorial, which was unveiled in June further solidified Fallon’s his longstanding commitment to celebrating the contribution of troops from all backgrounds.

Ahead of the launch, he said: “The UK is indebted to all those servicemen and women from Africa and the Caribbean who volunteered to serve with Britain during the First and Second World Wars. It is thanks to their bravery and sacrifice that we are able to enjoy our freedoms today. We should also congratulate those who have worked tirelessly to place this memorial in the heart of Brixton.”

To conclude, Fallon noted the 30th anniversary of Black History Month with message for The Voice readers. “Black History Month is a time to celebrate the contributions of BME people in the UK, and remember not only how far we’ve come, but why we must continue to move forward.”

source: as featured on the voice online.  http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/bringing-diversity-armed-forces

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