Words by Smiley Team
Jes Phillips is the Policy and Practice Officer at the Race Equality Foundation. Here, she talks about what life is like working inside a charity and how they support others.
What is life like as a Policy and Practice Officer at the Race Equality Foundation? In a nutshell: varied.
At the Foundation, we believe everyone should be provided with the opportunities to flourish. We explore what is known about discrimination and disadvantage, develop evidence-based better practice to promote equality, and share this better practice through a range of channels and methods, in order to improve the lives of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
The policy side of my role entails working with policy teams within, for example, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI), to discuss how policies can be more inclusive and address current inequalities experienced by Black and minority ethnic communities. For example, we are working with the NHSEI team producing new statutory guidance on working with people and communities to ensure the voices of the people we represent are shared and considered. The Foundation is contributing to the upcoming National Dementia Strategy through involvement in the Improving the experience of being diagnosed and living with dementia and Prevention task and finish groups.
The expertise we share and recommendations we promote are founded in the work we do directly with communities, in partnership with Black, Asian and minority ethic-led voluntary and community organisations. We are coming to the end of a project addressing health inequalities in reablement services for people living with dementia from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Through a number of voluntary organisations, such as Asian People’s Disability Alliance and Bristol Black Carers, we spoke to people living with dementia, carers and staff who support them to hear about their experiences, challenges they face and what works well. The findings from this project will be fed directly to the policy team within DHSC.
Another project coming to a close explored physical health checks for people with severe mental illness from African and Caribbean communities. We worked with specialist African and Caribbean mental health voluntary organisations to get a better understanding of whether physical health checks are accessible and appropriate. Our approach included one-to-one interviews between staff and the people they support as they have already built trusting relationships.
People really valued the opportunity to be heard and one staff member said: “I don't think we would have ever thought to do it the way that you did it or even to think to say, let's ask people about physical checks, but it has been absolutely invaluable. So much so that it's going to change quite a lot of what we're planning on doing.”
Working for the Foundation and striving to achieve race equality requires commitment, hard work, empathy, patience and versatility. One day you might be in a meeting with the NHS National Clinical Director for Learning Disabilities and Autism, and the next sitting in a community centre supporting people with disabilities, talking to someone about their experience over samosas and chilli dip.
Every aspect of my job contributes to the overall aim of the Race Equality Foundation: to promote race equality in public services.