Join the Disabled Staff Network

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The Disabled Staff Network (DSN) is a space for staff to share their experiences, find support and provide a unified voice for disabled staff. Here bulletin speaks to committee members about the benefits of joining.

The network is currently recruiting for several roles in the committee and are keen to hear from anyone who would like to get involved. DSN members Fiona Oliver, Sio Carroll and Karen Duncan are all keen to stress that in a network of like-minded people, there is no pressure to take on more than you can handle.

A welcoming space

Fiona Oliver is a Technical Supervisor in the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. She is also Treasurer for the DSN.

She has been a member for almost two years and joined to access support from others: “I find the group informative and welcoming. It’s good to be in a space where you can say how you feel and won’t be judged or misunderstood. There’s also no pressure to attend every meeting. People understand about having a bad day.”

“I think the DSN is a good space to meet up, virtually or in person, with others with disabilities. It’s a place to have a chat, ask for and share relevant information, or get something off your chest and know that the people you’re speaking with will understand.”

Fiona is looking forward to future projects but there’s one thing in particular: “Making the DSN much more visible. I only found it by accident whilst browsing for something else.”

A catalyst for change

Sio Carroll is EASTBIO DTP Support Officer in the School of Biological Sciences and Co-Chair of the DSN. They joined the network in 2019, but had been a member of staff for longer: “I’d been a member of staff for four years before joining the network, without knowing it existed. The minute I knew it did I wanted to be involved as equality, diversity and inclusion work has always been something I am keen to be involved with. I joined the Staff Pride Network at the same time and for a while was on both committees!”

For Sio, making real change is vital: “I really like the sense of community we are creating and being able to act as a catalyst for change. It can feel like it is going far too slowly sometimes but we are really starting to see some changes.”

So what are some of these changes? Sio elaborates: “We have recently been asked to join the Disability and Inclusion Sub Committee and work with them to develop a Disability Road Map for the University. I am really keen to work with them to improve the experiences of disabled staff and students across the University.”

Sio is keen to stress that being a part of the network is to be surrounded by like-minded people: “You only need to commit what you can. We are a network for and by disabled staff so we understand that there might be limits to what you can commit and that it might change on a day to day, or even hour to hour basis. We just want to get your voice heard!”

Sharing experiences

Karen Duncan, Research and Student Support Office in the School of Divinity, is stepping down from the Network’s committee, but would encourage others, not only to join the network, but consider one of the vacant committee roles: “I have an invisible disability and originally joined the network so I could find out more about resources available to me, but also to meet other staff and be part of a community sharing similar experiences.

“I have found the DSN very friendly and supportive and a really good resource for information. It’s also really interesting being involved in the issues they are trying to raise awareness of. The committee are friendly and supportive and I would really encourage anyone interested in becoming a member of the group to reach out as it has been a very positive experience for me.”

The DSN is currently looking to recruit for the following positions:

  • Two Events and Social Officers
  • Two Comms and Media Officers
  • One Meetings Secretary
  • One Academic Rep
  • One Professional Services Rep

They are also looking for some people to join a bank of volunteers who will also be committee members, but with more informal commitments.

You can find out more about the DSN on their webpages.