Lindsey Ambrose: Diversity Champion – Public Sector

Lindsey Ambrose - for Excellence in Diversity Awards 2015We caught up with Lindsey Ambrose to catch her response on being crowned the Winner of The Diversity Champion Award for Public at The Excellence in Diversity Awards 2015! Here’s what she had to say:

‘ I was so shocked, overwhelmed and numb for quite a while upon being announced the winner of The Diversity Champion Award for Public. I had totally dismissed the idea me even winning the award, especially as the other people shortlisted were so inspirational. I genuinely wasn’t expecting it to be me. But it was!

The experiences I had of witnessing the murders and violence as a child, led me to have Post-Traumatic Stress for a while. I don’t have that problem these days but I still find it physically difficult to talk about what happened. It’s one thing to know for myself what happened and how it is such a factor in wanting to help people communicate effectively and get on well together, with compassion and understanding for each other. It’s something else when other people recognise it so kindly in their experience of my passion for my diversity and inclusion work.

The other nominees within my category were awesome! I wouldn’t have liked to have been one of the judges. The awards were a great way of finding some fantastic individuals and bringing them together to meet and find out about one another and our work. We had such a relaxed evening, and I liked the fact that The EiDA Team used Social Media beforehand; it just allowed us all to connect with each other. We wouldn’t have been in touch with each other if it weren’t for the awards – now we are and some of us have been looking to meet up to learn more from one another.

Where are you going to go from here with your work?

I work for a charity that helps very vulnerable people with complex disabilities, wherever possible helping them to achieve more independence and to their full potential. My success, which included in relation to my work here, has encouraged patients and staff to feel proud of what we do together – and I know my work is just one small part of that much bigger picture. So I would like to get everyone’s contributions recognised and I’m supporting patients, former patients, volunteers and staff to prepare an entry for the National Diversity Awards – on condition that in the unlikely event we were to win (there are so many fab groups out there!) – other people would be able to attend and I wouldn’t have to be the one on the stage! The experience so far have been very positive for us, including hearing such moving things from people who tell us how we’ve transformed their lives, and what being involved with us means to them.

I am leading the charity’s work towards the Louder Than Words Charter Mark, run by Action on Hearing Loss. It helps organisations to be Deaf-friendly. Lots of people are involved. Part of the work of raising patient and staff Deaf awareness will include having a stand at patient parties with colleagues from our specialist Deaf service. We did this last year and it was very popular. The theme this year is “magical circus” so we’ll be teaching them British Sign Language about things to do with parties and the event theme, and giving them the chance to try lip-reading games and BSL wordsearch puzzles.

I’m also working with carers on a guide for people who’s loved one is new to being cared for by St Andrew’s Healthcare. We’re due to launch that at an event we’ve been planning together. That event will also give carers, families and friends of patients the opportunity to have taster sessions of the sorts of activities we offer to patients day to day.

I’m continuing to support Northampton Carnival, judging again this year and supporting them with funding applications to help them continue and develop this spectacular free event (13 June) which brings together so many diverse communities and people of all ages and abilities; I’ve nominated the Deputy Mayor, Christopher Malpas, for a National Diversity Award (Positive Role Model – Disability) for his work especially with developing Guide Dogs for the Blind Northampton, and have been supporting him with the process for that; and I’ve nominated Northampton Inter Faith Forum, for a National Diversity Award (community organisation: race/faith/religion) as they do some fabulous work helping people of different cultural and religious beliefs learn about different faiths and get on well together through community events and more too.

What does Diversity & Inclusion mean to you?

It’s about making sure that everybody can be involved as much as they want to be in making decisions that affect their lives and that they can be supported with opportunities that help them to achieve to their potential. Working with very vulnerable people who have complex disability needs and also often suffer from social disadvantages – perhaps very disrupted schooling due to disability and/or neglect – it’s important to me to recognise the individual, who they are, and to work with them, recognising their unique diversity, as this can help them to progress and achieve, to develop empathy and make changes in services or behaviours, which in turn can inspire and help others on their recovery and development journeys too.

Where does this rank within your Diversity & Inclusion achievements?

It’s unique because it’s about me personally. I’m usually behind the scenes, supporting other people to get an award, or helping youth or others to develop and run awards to find local unsung heroes. It’s been great when the work we do is recognised but this is really different because this is my own award. I have been really flattered, amazed, humbled by people’s response – so many people have gone out of their way to get in touch and congratulate me, to show their support for me getting this award. It’s been very, very, special.

What were yours and your colleague’s thoughts on the awards?

I had another lady with me and she was in tears, she was pleased and had a fabulous evening. It was really nice, really well done, the whole thing is an absolute joy, and I loved the #hashtag you had in the background. I would absolutely recommend to other people to get involved and nominate for the awards in future years.