For our tenth anniversary, our acting joint CEO Zoe King has written a summary of our last 10 years of operation, and highlighted some challenges that we will look to tackle over the next decade of our existence.
The chair of the Diverse Cymru board – June Francois – said:
“Trustees give their unstinting support by sharing their expertise with Diverse Cymru knowing their help will go towards making a positive difference to the lives of people across Wales. Diverse Cymru has a long-standing reputation in equality, diversity and inclusion. Independent accreditation is evidence of the high quality of Diverse Cymru’s service delivery to reduce inequalities in Wales. Recent events have clearly demonstrated the need for Diverse Cymru’s specialist services which are needed more than ever to be a more equal society.”
Diverse Cymru was formed 10 years ago through the merger of two organisations. Awetu (Our Unity in Swahili), led by Suzanne Duval BEM, was an award winning organisation that supported Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people with mental ill health. The Cardiff and Vale Coalition of Disabled People was formed in 1991 as an organisation of disabled people who could challenge barriers, bring disabled people together to campaign on relevant issues.
Recognising that they had similar core values and aims to improve opportunities and services, Charles Willie and Suzanne Duval led the merger to create Diverse Cymru in February 2011.
We have helped disabled adults in Wales claim £4.28 million in benefits.
This coincided with the Equality Act 2010 that brought together different equality legislation to protect people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. The basis for Diverse Cymru was simple, we would look to challenge barriers and support people facing discrimination across protected groups and intersectionally in Wales to achieve equality for all.
Now, as then, the work that we deliver continues along similar lines, to support people, and to make a difference in Wales. Our Direct Payments services support disabled people to own the care they receive, in the past 10 years we have worked with over 5000 DP recipients across six counties in Wales, giving them choice, voice and control, supporting them to achieve the highest quality of life possible.
Our Advocacy work has included Independent Professional Advocacy, community advocacy and peer advocacy; we have helped disabled adults in Wales claim £4.28 million in benefits, and supported them in challenging unfair decisions. This work has been recognised with an award of the Advocacy Quality Performance Mark, to denote the excellent services delivered.
Supporting the mental health of BAME communities has always been a central pillar of our work. We lobby for change with Welsh Government, and ensure agile services in order to be of most help to the communities we work with. Our reach is wide and now includes support services in Cardiff and Vale and Gwent, HYPE Cymru (help for young people through empowerment), online support, and the BME mental health good practice certification scheme that is working across all 7 health boards in Wales, and spreading across the public and third sectors.
Our Policy and Engagement department supports all of the work that we do. We provide expert research and consultancy services on equality, we provide training to organisations on many aspects of equality and we deliver engagement events that give participants the opportunity to ‘Have Your Say’ about issues and services that affect us all, ensuring that the lived experiences of diverse people are communicated to the highest levels.
We have always been governed by a strong board of Trustees and this board now includes experience from mental health, local government, equality, social care, legal and third sector leadership. This experience gives additional lenses to make the work we do the best it can be for the people who use our services.
It is clear that COVID-19 has exposed latent inequalities in healthcare and other sectors that are affecting diverse people in society. Those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are far more likely to catch COVID, and to die from it. In Wales, inequality is rife, with 1 in 4 children living in poverty. In the last year we have seen the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, we have recently seen the separate cases of two black men dying in police custody in Wales, and we have seen disproportionately statistics of BAME individuals being criminalised, all highlighting that Wales is not innocent in perpetuating inequality. There is more to do.
The past 12 months have been difficult. They have presented clear challenges to overcome in Wales, and given us renewed purpose and belief in the importance of our aims. On our tenth anniversary as an organisation, more than ever, we need to stand for equality in Wales now, and across the next 10 years.
- Zoe King – Acting Joint Chief Executive