Rainbow@ncl is a newly-established staff and PGR network, which aims to challenge heteronormativity, support LGBT+ staff and students, and promote inclusion of people of diverse genders, sexualities, and relationships.

Today (28th September) 12-2pm, they are having a celebratory launch event in the Reception Rooms of the Armstrong Building. If you would like to come along, please register here.

To find out a little bit more about Rainbow@ncl ahead of their launch event, I spoke to Dr Gareth Longstaff, a lecturer in Media and Culture Studies and the Chair of Rainbow@ncl.

Why did you decide to start the network?

Before the inception of Rainbow@ncl, there had been an informal, socially-focused LGBT+ staff network called Mosaic. About a year ago, Kate Chedgzoy (EDI lead in HaSS) and I met with the hope of forming something new that was still a support network, but was also able to feed into broader issues across the University and within Higher Education.

The first scoping event happened the week after Induction Week in 2017, and since then we’ve made a huge amount of progress in forming a steering group and setting up the network.

What do you think the network means to its members?

I believe Rainbow@ncl means a great deal to its members. It provides staff with a strong support network at work, and, for many, it provides the first opportunity they’ve had to meet with likeminded people in an open, inclusive space to discuss the issues they’re facing. It lets people know that their thoughts and feelings are valid, and that they are understood by others.

The network is intended to be inclusive to all staff who identify as LGBT+, regardless of their background or position within the University. Everything we do is decided collectively, even down to small details such as the timings and locations of events. We hope to make the network even more diverse than it already is, and to focus on intersectionality and work with other EDI networks across the University.

Where you might see the network going in the future?

We feel as though we’ve never had as much institutional support as we do at the moment, so it’s really important for us to keep up this momentum and make ourselves a visible, sustainable and embedded presence within the University.

We are working to increase our prominence, through initiatives such as the distribution of over 2000 lanyards, raising the LGBT+ flag at key points of the year, developing a front facing webpage for the Network, as well as by working with other networks, such as NU Women and BAME, to promote intersectionality. We want everyone in the University to have a sense of what we do, by embedding ourselves into the culture, politics and policy of the University, whilst still retaining our autonomy as a network.

We also hope to work as a critical ally to senior management groups, to affect policy development, such as Trans policy and gender neutrality in documentation. We also want to ensure policy is consistently reviewed to make it as transparent and inclusive as possible.

If you’d like to find out more about Rainbow@ncl and how to get involved, come along to their launch event 12-2pm today (28th September). Alternatively, click here to read more about them.

Resilience Workshop: October 12th

Resilience is our capacity to adapt positively to pressure, setbacks and challenges. It is about our ability to keep going, maintain our wellbeing, learn and develop.

Following the successful workshop series that the Faculty ran last year, we are offering a lunchtime workshop to give staff and students tools and techniques around resilience that can applied at work or at home.

The workshop will be delivered by Lisa Rippingale (Senior Organisational Development Adviser), who has been trained by Dr Mandi Sherlock Storey (Chartered and Registered Practitioner Occupational Psychologist, and Head of Leadership Transformation with the North East Leadership Academy), who originally developed these workshops as part of her PhD research on Resilience. Lisa has successfully delivered similar workshops at a number of organisations in recent years, and her workshops come highly recommended from our own staff.

Friday 12th of October, 11am – 2pm
L2.2, Leech Building, the Medical School

To book please go to: https://bit.ly/2wOotiq
Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.Previous sessions have been extremely popular, and early booking is advised. There will be a break for lunch, so please bring your packed lunch along.

For any queries please contact Malasree Home (ext. 85423).

Speaking the Same Language: A Dictionary for Inclusion


Have you ever used a word and thought, “I’m not sure if I should have said that”? Or do you worry that your everyday vocabulary and dialogue might be misconstrued?

We know that language has capacity to cause harm, which is why we try to avoid saying things that we think could upset other people. But, we can sometimes say the wrong thing to someone without even realising it, and what may seem like ‘a bit of banter’ to one person can be harmful to another. In the workplace, this may lead not only to awkward conversations, but can also create lingering bad feeling, and potentially damage working relationships.

A team led by Amy Fielden from the School of Psychology was awarded funding to run a series of three workshops on “A Dialogue on Language and Labels”. Since Amy has been on maternity leave, Billie Moffat-Knox has been leading on the project with colleagues from Psychology, and has now put together workshops that are designed to help staff and students learn about what words to use, and which might cause offence, when talking about equality and diversity issues. The workshops host guest speakers from both Northumbria and Newcastle Universities (see flyer), who will first talk about their research and/or personal experiences, and then encourage an interactive discussion around particular topics. The aim is to offer some practical guidance around how to avoid being misunderstood, and enable people across the Faculty and wider University to have open and honest conversations about potentially sensitive topics.

The three workshops will be run 4-6pm in The Atrium in FMS on Wednesday afternoons in the first half of October (3rd, 10th, 17th). Whilst Billie acknowledges that the timing may not be ideal for everyone, there have been limitations around finding a collegiate space in the busy teaching timetable. She has organised the workshops so that people with prior commitments are welcome to attend for just the first hour, and if these workshops are successful, Billie will be looking to hold them at times that would be more conducive to all staff and students.

The workshops certainly look like they will be really valuable in helping us have better conversations around EDI issues. All members of the Faculty are welcome to attend, and you can sign up for one or more workshops using the links below. Light refreshments will be provided.

Register for all 3 dates

Register for 3rd October only

Register for 10th October only

Register for 17th October only

For more information please contact Dr Billie Moffat-Knox.

We will be writing about other projects that have been funded by Newcastle University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Fund (EDIF) over the coming weeks. The EDIF funds awards up to £5K to support grass roots innovative projects proposed by our staff and students that help advance EDI at Newcastle University. There will be another call for applications before the end of the year – perhaps you might want to apply? If so, we are always happy to discuss or help you develop your idea.

Meet our new Communications Team

As mentioned in the previous post, this September we’re officially relaunching FMS EDI communications! As part of this relaunch, we have a fabulous comms team and a brand new look.

As well as our existing EDI Team (Candy, Malasree and Ann), we are bringing on board fivemore colleagues with communications experience, to make sure our EDI message is heard loud and clear across the Faculty, and that you’re all aware of the great work which we’re doing! We are excited to introduce…

Dominic Lamb

Dom works in NICR and has experience managing their social media pages and designing their intranet site.

“EDI over a number of years has become more and more embedded in everything we do as a Faculty due to the hard work and effort our EDI team have put in. Having been part of the Faculty and the local NICR team for a couple of years, I wanted to be more involved. I’ll be helping with the ideas and events that will be coming up, with editing the new intranet and developing social media content as my main focus. I look forward to the launch of the EDI communications team and seeing you all at many of the upcoming events.”
Dom Lamb

Elizabeth Amies

Lizzie works in the Graduate School. She was involved with communications in the transfer of Durham University’s School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health to Newcastle.

“I’m excited to be part of the Faculty’s EDI comms team to support the awareness raising and embedding of the great work the Faculty is doing to ensure that EDI is at the forefront of all our activities and thinking. I’m looking forward to being able to support a calendar of events being developed across the Faculty, and to showcasing the enthusiasm and energy for EDI that we all have.
Lizzie Amies

Ann Fitchett

Ann Fitchett is the Events, Engagement and Outreach Coordinator for IoN, which includes organising their events and managing their social media.

“It’s really important that the work of the EDI team is visible to demonstrate how committed the Faculty is in supporting all its members to reach their full potential. It’s easy to become trapped in your own small bubble so to help spread the message to all the different units is a very exciting challenge.”
Ann Fitchett

Joanna Matthan

Jo is one our Lecturers in the School of Medical Education. S has expertise in social media and is a member or their EDI team.

“I’m really excited to be joining the FMS EDI Comms Team. I’ve partaken in EDI committee meetings on a school level for a few years, but the opportunity to have a wider impact as part of a dedicated and innovative team means taking my passion for equality, diversity and inclusion to a new level. Being part of the EDI Comms team will, I hope, help to widen our scope of what we currently perceive as EDI and to become even more inclusive as a University.”
Jo Matthan

Bana Abdulmohsen

Bana is a Teaching Fellow in our School of Dental Sciences (SDS) and a member of the SDS EDI Team. Currently, she is organising the SDS cross-cultural awareness training for students and staff.

“I am excited about becoming more involved in EDI as part of the Faculty’s EDI Comms Team. I have received support from the EDI Team, and am eager to help promote and cascade the EDI ethos, activities and events so that other staff across the Faculty can benefit too.”
Bana Abdulmohsen

As well as our excellent new comms team, we also have a brand new look!

  • Our blog has been completely refreshed, to keep you up to date with everything that’s going on with FMS EDI.
  • We have a new intranet site where you’ll find all the information about what we do, the support available to you, and our upcoming events.
  • Our Twitter will soon have a specially designed new profile photo, to set us apart from everyone else.

We’re really excited for the upcoming year in FMS and can’t wait to show you all what we have planned!

Improving Communications around EDI: What do we do, and why?

Whilst many of us have been taking holiday over the summer break, our FMS EDI Student Interns have been working hard to make sure that we can improve our communications about the equality, diversity and inclusion work going on in the Faculty.

Feedback form various surveys and focus groups have told us that we need to do more to let our staff know what we are doing, and why. For example, staff in the EDI Focus Groups that we ran in January, scored us only 4.6 out of 10 on our comms, which has an impact on their ability to engage with what we’re doing. People wanted to know more about what we are actually doing, and why, and have access to more information about the support that is offered and the benefits that it brings.

We hear you!

Over the summer, we recruited two student interns, Georgia and Joe, to help us out. We first set up an EDI Comms Team, committed to ensuring that key messages are communicated effectively, through a variety of different routes. We’ve taken advantage of the new intranet pages to develop our own Faculty EDI site: you can find a wealth of information on it for staff and for students, including an events calendar, and we’ll continue to build resources over the coming months. Let us know if you think we’ve missed something!

Our blog has also been revamped so that we can use it more this year to tell you about who our EDI team are, about the activities and events we will be running, and about projects we are working on and that you can get involved with. Some of the blog series we have planned for the next few months will showcase some of the projects are staff are running with support from the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Fund, give you some insights into what it is like to be in the senior management and leadership team, and how some of our staff manage working part-time. We are always looking for ideas for blogs or why not write something for us?

Finally, we continue to develop our twitter feed @FMSDiversityNCL. We see this as an important way to keep up to date with what’s happening around the University and across the sector, and to bring in ideas to stimulate our thinking. We also use it to advertise events and keep followers up-to-date with what we’re working on. We have nearly 1000 dedicated followers, so why not follow us?

We are also going to try out some new routes of communication – hopefully, you’ll see some of our new posters in our public spaces – these will be regularly updated. We’ll also be making more use of the screens to help advertise our events and activities. You can also follow our FMS EDI intranet site to make sure that you are first to know about the latest developments, and sign up to training and networking events.

If you want to contact the new EDI Comms Team to tell us some good news, an idea for a blog, an event you’d like us to promote for you, or just give us some feedback on how we’re doing, do get in touch: FMS.EDIPlanning@ncl.ac.uk