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Equality & Diversity

...supporting our staff and communities

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Equality and Diversity

Supporting our staff and communities

Different people equal value - corporate equality plan logo

Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) people

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is committed to providing equality of opportunity, both in the services we provide and in our role as an employer. All our employees and members of the public have a right to be treated fairly and with respect, this includes the needs of our LGB employees and customers.

We are actively working to achieve a diverse workforce and to build a culture where difference is respected and accepted. These webpages detail some of the work we are currently involved in to support our LGB employees or those members of staff who have family or friends who may be LGB.

LGB champion

Our Chief Officer, John Bonney, champions LGB and plays a vital role in ensuring that key issues are acted upon;

"We are proud to be one of the best Fire and Rescue Services in the country and we are passionate about creating a work environment  that supports and empowers people to be themselves. By encouraging people to work for us, whatever their background, we can better meet the needs of the communities we serve."

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LGB and T Working Group

The LGB and T Working Group has been formed by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) employees passionate about achieving equality for our LGB and T employees and ensuring that HFRS is a place where individuals feel safe and confident about being open about their sexual orientation and gender identity. The working group meets quarterly and looks at issues affecting our employees and actions arising from the Stonewall Workplace Index report.  In addition to this, the Watch Diversity Liaison Officers who attend the group, play a key role in engaging with our LGB and T communities to highlight opportunities or issues which then enables HFRS to make informed decisions about the services that we provide.

If you want to find out more or become part of our network, please contact a member of the team. We welcome input from all employees (straight allies), not just those who identify as LGB or T.

LGB and T Working Group members:

We also offer an open invite to a representative from the Hampshire Constabulary LGB&T Resource Group to attend each meeting.

If you don't wish to become a member of the group but would like to be kept up to date with progress and information on upcoming events, why not get yourself added to the confidential email circulation list? Just email Emma Chattington to be added to the list.

All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Partnerships

Not only do we have our own network group but we also have the opportunity to support and attend some of our partner agency LGB&T groups.

We are working closely with Hampshire Constabulary's LGB&T Resource Group to share best practice and improve network and support opportunities for our LGB&T employees. We are also strengthening our links with Hampshire County Council's LGB&T Action Group.

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Our work with Stonewall

Stonewall

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has worked with Stonewall for a number of years to gain advice and support to make our workplace more inclusive for employees who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.  Stonewall have a wealth of LGB information to support both employees and employers or managers alike. Find out more about our work with Stonewall.

Stonewall Leadership Programme 2012

The Stonewall Leadership Programme is Europe's most prestigious leadership course specifically designed for lesbian, gay and bisexual professionals. This is a two day programme taking place in Hertfordshire on 22nd and 23rd November. Developed in partnership with Ashridge Business School, the Leadership Programme helps enable delegates to release their full potential as effective organisational leaders.

We recognise that people perform better when they can be themselves.  This programme will provide you with the challenging yet safe learning space to enable you to evaluate how sexual orientation, an integral part of who we are, may impact on your performance as an organisational leader.  

If you would like further information on the course, or are interested in attending, then please contact Equality and Diversity team in confidence, in the first instance.

Events

Brighton Pride 2012

Thanks to all those who helped with the preparations and who joined in the celebrations at Brighton Pride on Saturday to make it a great success!

HFRS were led by Chief Officer John Bonney and Assistant Chief Officer Neil Odin and joined Kent, East Sussex and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services along the parade, making its way through Brighton. Promoting safety messages to tens of thousands of people from across the south coast, we helped to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the biggest festivals of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture in the UK.

After the parade thousands of people continued the celebrations at Preston Park where our joint stand drew in the crowds. Raising the profile of the fire and rescue service, we had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of people and to give out information on home and road safety.

Take a look at pictures from the celebrations on our Facebook and FlickR pages.

Cosham Fire Station flying the Rainbow flag

International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO) 2012

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service again showed its support for International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) Day 2012 by flying the Rainbow flag. To find out more about IDAHO visit www.dayagainsthomophobia.org (opens new window).

Cosham Station Manager commented:

"When we flew the IDAHO flag at Cosham the other day, we received the second highest amount of hits on Twitter, in the whole of Hampshire. The comments were very positive too."

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Benefits

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is family friendly for our LGB staff too! We recognise that the needs of our LGB staff are the same as those of all staff.

Our Family Friendly policy recognises that employees may be in a same sex relationship or civil partnership. This policy has been looked at by our LGB employees, however, if you feel that this or any other policy is not inclusive of sexual orientation please contact the Equality and Diversity team.

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Support and counselling

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service provides support for all our employees including those who may have issues relating to being LGB. Funding for six sessions is available to staff, however, if you would prefer to get support from an external counsellor or agency trained staff to deal with specific needs relating to LGB, arrangements can be made.

Our Occupational Health & Welfare Adviser, Geraldine Kennedy, is a qualified therapist and, when appropriate, provides a useful link to external agencies.

Workplace Options, our Employee Assistance Programme, has specialist LGB and T therapists to assist with any related issues you may have.

The Equality and Diversity team are on hand to give confidential advice on any workplace issues which effect our staff. Or if preferred, contact Emma Chattington who is a member of the LGB and T Working Group.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) LGB and T representative - Alli Burrows

Alli has worked for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Fire Control for numerous years and is the FBU's LGB and T representative. Alli is committed to providing advice and support for all employees, including those who may have workplace issues relating to being gay. Alli is also happy to provide support and/or mentoring for any of our LGB and T employees.

Alli identifies as a gay woman and hopes her own experiences, knowledge and understanding of LGB and T issues in the workplace will help other colleagues.

Alli can be contacted on 07917 065860.

FBU free confidential Stress and Support line: 0800 783 4778

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Tackling homophobic bullying

Inappropriate behaviour is an issue that Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) takes seriously for all employees, regardless of who they are. We are committed to the protection of HFRS employees from any harassment, bullying or any unwanted negative behaviour.

Legislation exists which bans direct or indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation of someone because of their sexual orientation.

Examples of anti-gay bullying could include the following;

  • Making homophobic insults or threats
  • Making unnecessary and degrading references to an individual's sexual orientation
  • Engaging in banter or making jokes which are degrading to a person's sexual orientation (even if perceived)
  • Outing an LGB employee without their permission
  • Ignoring or excluding an LGB employee because they are LGB
  • Spreading rumours or gossip about an individual's sexual orientation
  • Asking an LGB colleague intrusive questions about their private life
  • Using religious beliefs to justify anti-gay bullying and harassment

The above has been taken from Stonewall's Workplace Guide "Bullying: Preventing the bullying and harassment of gay employees (opens new window)"

More information

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans history month

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans history month takes place every year in February. It celebrates the lives and achievements of the LGB and T community and is committed to celebrating its diversity and that of society as a whole. www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk (opens new window)

HFRS support LGBT History month and it is an opportunity for us all to celebrate diversity.  We understand the importance of respecting differences, treating everyone fairly and enabling us all to achieve our potential.  In order for this to happen, it is vital that the services that we provide and the policies and environment in which we work, are inclusive of everyone.

“Research has shown that LGB people who can be open about their sexual orientation at work are more productive, creative and loyal.  That’s why many of Britain’s most successful businesses and public service providers are taking action to help their gay employees bring their whole selves to work and perform at their best.”  (Stonewall Top 100 Employers 2012)

Chief Officer, John Bonney is our Diversity Champion for LGB:

“Our staff are the organisation's and the community's most valuable asset and it is important they feel confident to be themselves so they can perform to their very best.  We also believe that by reflecting the diversity of the public we serve  in our workforce means we can deliver the very best service"

FBU, FOA and UNISON all welcome HFRS support for LGBT History Month;

"The Fire Brigades Union LGBT National Committee is delighted that Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is supporting LGBT history month 2012. We believe that Fire Service endorsement for this important series of events, to mark LGBT history, is a positive message and sends out a very clear signal that Hampshire Fire and Rescue believe in their LGBT community and staff. Flying the rainbow flag etc is exactly what is required to show that equality and diversity 'matters', and that employers and employees welcome LGBT history month."

 

Transgender equality

All employees and members of the public have the right to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect and the working environment must be fair and supportive to individual needs. This includes any people whose gender presentation is atypical. Among these are transexual people who wish to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone permanent transition to a gender role, which is opposite to that assigned to them at birth. For all these people, we aim to ensure fair treatment. The Service recognises the challenges faced by transgender people in the workplace and in society as a whole, and that these challenges differ from those faced by lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

Transgender policy

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has a Transgender Equality Policy which aims to ensure that transgender employees and individuals undergoing the gender reassignment process are treated with fairness and support in their recruitment, deployment and development, with confidentiality and discretion maintained at all times.

We also recognise that some employees may identify as 'trans' but will not necessarily be planning to change their gender or live in that gender for extended periods. We aim to improve support to these individuals also.

Bob Ratcliffe

Diversity champion

Assistant Chief Officer Bob Ratcliffe is our diversity Champion who supports transgender equality;

"I have taken on the role of the Service's Transgender Equality Champion. I was not selected for this subject due to my existing knowledge, far from it! However, I relish the challenge to improve my own awareness so we can find ways to improve our operational diversity, such as considering our response when dealing with people at incidents and how we interact with our communities.

Working with Southampton based charity Chrysalis, we ran an awareness day about transgender, which was both interesting and challenging. Our improved recognition and understanding of transgender issues will allow us to improve our management and response to this sensitive subject for the benefit of our existing staff, potential employees and the communities we serve."

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Support

External organisations

Chrysalis aims to promote self confidence and well being through education, practica l application and support. Thus enabling progression into becoming a whole person capable of independant living.

The Gender Trust is a charity whose objectives are to relieve the metal and emotional stress of all persons who are in any manner affected by Gender Dysphoria.

FTM Network is an informal self-help group, open to all female to male transgender and transexual people, or those exploring this aspect of their gender.

a:gender is a support network for staff in government departments/agencies who have changed or need to change permanently their percieved gender, or who identify as Intersex.

Depend is a support network linking friends and families of transexual people.

Press for Change is one of the leading organisations involved with the development of legislation and best practice in all areas connected with the equal rights and liberties of all trans people in the UK.

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Internal Support

Equality and Diversity team, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

Occupational Health and Welfare

  • Welfare Advisor: Geraldine Kennedy
  • Phone: 07918 887845

Workplace Options (Employee Assistance Programme)

Workplace Options is a confidential advice, information adn counselling service thay is available free of charge to all employees and their immediate family members. Workplace Options have a database of therapists who are trained specifically to deal with those issues experienced by employees who may identify as Trans.

 

 

Gender Conference

On 8th March 2010 57 representatives from across the Service attended Hampshire Fire and rescue Service's first ever Gender Conference. The event coincided with International Women's Day and was generously hosted, free of charge, by Fawley Power Station.

The day

Throughout the day delegates took part in various activities to determine the experiences of men and women within the Service and where we would like to be in the future. The outcome of these workshops was a challenge from Assistant Chief Officer Kevin Butcher, Gender Champion, for all attendees, men and women alike, to take back the positives from the day and to encourage colleagues to attend the event next year.

Post conference

Since the conference a "post conference workshop" has been set up to implement actions that arose on the day and to review them at the next conference.

Update

Planning has now begun for the 2012 conference. We will keep you updated with any progress here. If you would like to get involved please contact the Equality and Diversity team.

Domestic violence

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is committed to equality and diversity, to provide a fair place to work, to be a fair employer and to provide a positive employment experience. We are committed to employee wellbeing. Our Domestic Violence Policy supports our Wellbeing Strategy. It intends to raise the awareness of domestic violence, provide guidance for employees and managers and to address the effect on the employee and their workplace. This policy is not intended to put managers in a position of replacing the expert help and support available, it guides managers in signposting their employee or helps the employee to signpost themselves to the most appropriate source of help.

Domestic abuse and related services in Hampshire (opens new window).

 

Disability

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service takes the issue of disability seriously in respect of the service we provide to our communities and any employees who may have a disability.

It is important that we consider the specific needs of disabled people when planning and providing services, to ensure they receive equal access to those services and any information. We also need to ensure we make reasonable adjustments throughout the recruitment process and employment experience. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service can provide support and advice to our employees who have a disability or become disabled whilst they are working with us.

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Diversity Champion

Laura Cadd (Head of Marketing and Communications) is your Champion for Disability. Laura is dedicated to raising awareness of disability throughout the organisation to ensure our disabled staff and customers receive the appropriate support.

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City Limits

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service work with City Limits to provide valuable and meaningful work experience to its clients to help prepare them for suitable paid work within Hampshire.

The Equality and Diversity team work closely with representatives from City Limits and departments within the organisation to encourage placements where all involved can benefit from the experience.

City Limits Employment support people with various disabilities or difficulties. They have successfully supported their clients and employers in Southampton since 1990, helping to find and maintain suitable paid work within a diverse range of businesses. At present, City Limits have various teams that support individuals with mental health issues, varying degrees of learning difficulties, hearing impairments and visual impairments, ex-offenders and people recovering from stroke.

Our most recent placement was for a City Limits client who had a severe hearing impairment. The client worked in the Workforce Support office with manager Pete Walsh;

"Personally, I feel my understanding (and that of the team) has been greatly enhanced by working with Sarah, particularly with reference to exploring the best ways to explain work tasks and with regard to communication generally - it is easy to assume something is known or understood when in fact it may not be. I think it's essential to check and re-check this aspect frequently. I have enjoyed working with Sarah on this project and suspect we may have learnt at least as much as she has, if not more!"

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Dyslexia support

Dyslexia can vary in its extremes and the signs of having dyslexia can be different amongst individuals. Common indicators could be weaknesses in short term memory and the ability to process information (through reading or being told verbally), weaknesses in spelling and reading accuracy and also problems with reading comprehension, reading speed and writing speed.

Dyslexia Awareness Week

As part of Dyslexia Awareness week 2011 a short DVD has been made with Deputy Chief Officer Dave Curry talking about his own personal experience of the condition and the support that is available within the Service.

HFRS aims to be a dyslexia friendly place of work, where individuals with dyslexia receive appropriate help and support so they can fulfil their potential and their career paths can be sustained, for the benefit of themselves and the Service.

Dave said;

"I am very pleased to have made this short DVD as part of Dyslexia Awareness Week. I think it is vitally important to recognise you may have a problem and seek professional support. I hope that being open about how the condition affects me will help other staff to become more aware. We are all lucky to work in an organisation that recognises this condition and supports colleagues. I know that working in this environment there is no reason why dyslexia should hold anyone back from achieving their full potential."

You can listen to Dave speaking about his experiences through the link below.

www.youtube.com (opens in a new window)

Please note that, if you are a member of staff, you will need to view this video outside of our network, here's the link to the video on YouTube, you can copy and paste this into your browser address bar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srl91A3DPKc

Do you know or think you have Dyslexia?

There are a number of self-assessment checklists available that may help in establishing whether you display the signs of dyslexia. The British Dyslexia Association use this The British Dyslexia Adult Checklist (opens new window)

If you think you could benefit from some support, then speak to your line manager or contact the Equality and Diversity team.

Numerous firefighters and other non-operational staff have received support.

Service Order 1/25 - Supporting employees with Dyslexia

If you are supporting an employee who has dyslexia, here are some general guidelines that may be useful: general_support_advice

Please note that these are generic guidelines and should not be used as the only support mechanism for employees with dyslexia.

Positive about disabled people

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service uses the disability two ticks symbol to demonstrate we are positive about disabled people. We use the symbol on our job adverts, application forms and general correspondence.

The symbol is awarded by Jobcentre Plus to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service as we have made a commitmnet to employ, keep and develop the abilities of our employees who have a disability. Jobcentre Plus regularly review our actions that support the five commitments, which are;

  • to interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for the job vacancy and to consider them on their abilities
  • to discuss with disabled employees, at any time but at least once a year, what both parties can do to make sure disabled employees can develop and use their abilities
  • to make every effort when employees become disabled to make sure they stay in employment
  • to take action to ensure that all employees develop the appropriate level of disability awareness needed to make these commitments work
  • to review these commitments each year and assess what has been achieved, plan ways to improve on them and let employees and Jobcentre Plus know about progress and future plans
 

Age equality

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) aims to include both younger and older people in our planning and decision making processes. We will also ensure that we do not consider age when recruiting, training, promoting, transferring or shedding staff and we will make sure that we do not make assumptions about a person's abilities based on their age.

Diversity champion

HFRS appointed Mick Crennell as Age Champion within the Service to raise awareness and understanding of the risks in Hampshire that are linked to age. Mick works with staff internally and external partners to ensure that equality issues relating to age are managed.

 

Race equality

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service understands that to provide the best possible service for employees and communities, is to listen to and involve our ethnic minority communities when developing our services.

We also work to encourage people from our ethnic minority communities to apply for jobs with us, and to ensure that, when drafting and placing advertisements, we take care to avoid discrimination and stereotyping through the language and images used.

Working with diverse communities

A new guide to help staff working with diverse communities has been published. The HFRS ‘Working with Diverse Communities Handbook’ provides an easy reference guide for everyone in the Service. It is a useful starting point which helps to explain key charateristics in different communities but it should not be seen as covering every aspect within these communities, there are clearly wide variations. We hope you will take the time to look at the guide and learn a little bit about the areas covered within it.

The characteristics described within the handbook will not apply to everyone from a particular ethnic, religious or cultural group. It is up to individuals to choose how they wish to identify themselves. They do not have to adhere to a certain set of characteristics to be part of a certain group. Therefore we ask everyone to bear the following two messages in mind:

  • Simply do not make assumptions or generalise
  • When in doubt ask. People will not expect you to know everything about their attitudes and customs. It’s always better to ask than to get it wrong

View the Working with Diverse Communities Handbook PDF 8Mb, please note that the handbook is for viewing only, it should not be printed. The information contained within the handbook is also available on Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs).

The handbook has been produced in partnership with the Asian Fire Service Association (AFSA). If you have any queries about AFSA, or would like to become involved in their work please contact Shanti Waas on 07918 887533.

Diversity champions

The Race Champion is Geoff Howsego (Director of HR and Training) and the Religion or Belief Champion is Deputy Chief Officer Dave Curry (Director of Service Delivery).

If you would like any advice or support on Equality and Diversity please contact the Equality and Diversity team on 7 59 5400 (internal) or 023 80626810 (external).

 

Religion or belief

Religion or belief equality

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is keen to promote a culture where all employees' religions and beliefs are respected and different perspectives accepted.

We are keen to learn more about different religions and beliefs and share this information with our employees so they can better understand the cultures that exist within Hampshire.

With this information we hope to better understand the communities we serve which will ensure we are better equipped to deal with any risks they may face or adapt our services to suit their needs.

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Hampshire Interfaith Network

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service are keen supporters of the Hampshire Interfaith Network (opens new window).

The group works to promote religious harmony and understanding for the benefit of the people who live and work in Hampshire. Deputy Chief Officer Dave Curry is the Religion or Belief Diversity Champion for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. He attends the group's quarterly meetings and ensures that the Service supports the work of the group by subscribing to the Interfaith calendar.

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National Inter Faith Week 2012

Interfaith logo

18th - 27th November 2012 is National Inter Faith Week

Events will be taking place up and down the country to highlight the good work being done to build strong relationships across the different faiths in our communities, encourage greater interaction between people from different backgrounds and celebrate diversity within the cultures across the UK.

The events are open to all, with registration, and range from exhibitions and open days at places of worship, to luncheons and celebrations.

To find out more about National Inter Faith Week, events taking place and how you can get involved, please visit the Inter Faith Network website (opens in new window)

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