Tell us a bit about yourself
I work as the Diversity and Inclusion Officer within the Diversity and Inclusion Team. I’m 34 and have worked at Essex Police since I was 19 when I joined as an administrator at Grays Police Station.
My hobbies include sewing and clothes making. I have taught myself to follow patterns and I’m now learning to make my own patterns.
My biggest achievement happened last year, when I ice skated for the first time ever, in a wheelchair! I never knew it was possible, but I gave it a go and it was amazing. My mantra in life is that nothing is impossible and one year I’d love to do the Disneyland Paris 5K in my wheelchair.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love being able to help people and working to remove barriers. Sometimes suggesting a seemingly small change can make a huge difference to someone.
Why is diversity and inclusion so important in and outside of the workplace?
It is really important to include everyone and make changes so that no one is left out or affected adversely. By having a workforce that is reflective of our communities, people can share their knowledge around how different communities are affected by different issues. It’s great to have life experience that can be shared by the workforce that will affect how we work with our communities.
Were there any barriers to joining Essex Police?
I didn’t experience any barriers when I joined. I’ve been supported with Access to Work recommendations for workplace adjustments which have been documented and are reviewed regularly.
Why do you think it’s so important that our force values difference?
It’s extremely important for people to feel that they can be their authentic selves. Everyone has their own individual strengths and weaknesses and by working together and being inclusive we can share these strengths.
I know this from personal experience as my sister has Dyspraxia and Dyslexia, and I have Muscular Dystrophy, so we grew up with different strengths and weaknesses, but together we make an amazing team. She was better with physical tasks and I was better with non-physical tasks, so we grew up with very few barriers when we worked together.
How has Essex Police as an organisation supported you in your career?
I’ve had a lot of support in relation to workplace adjustments throughout my career in Essex Police, and also the support of the Disability Network and Unison.
I’ve also been supported in flexible working to allow me to attend hydrotherapy sessions (physiotherapy done in a specialist heated pool). This has greatly helped me as the session are run during the day and by finishing slightly earlier I am able to attend the last session of the day. These sessions help me get exercise safely and maintain my mobility. If I didn’t have these flexible working arrangements, I wouldn’t be able to access this.
Tell us something interesting about your role?
The world of diversity and inclusion is always changing. From different categories of protected characteristics to different reasonable adjustments. There are so many adjustments now that are available to support people, which weren’t around a few years ago. It’s great to see people flourish when they get the support they need.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about joining Essex Police?
I think I’d be a bit worried if I was thinking of joining now about accessibility and adjustments, however there are so many different adjustments that can be trialled and put in place. Access to Work have a wealth of knowledge but the force also does. Things evolve and adjustments that are around now didn’t exist a few years ago.