National Diversity Awards
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Welcome to the National Diversity Awards 2017 Nominations are now closed
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Vote - Sue Reeves and Dave Vowles (Lifetime Achiever Award - )

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This bio is more tended towards myself but I couldn't have achieved as much as I have without my partner in crime Dave Vowles. Dave became chair of the Newport Positive Action Group at around the same time as I become chair of the Titchfield disABILITY Group. He has worked for ONS for at least 20 years and is deaf like myself.

During in his time as chair of the Disability Group in Newport he has helped to change the way people view staff with disabilities. This has been achieved though working with Facilities management team to improve accessibility for staff, working with the IT team to help towards making systems more accessible and working with the Health and Wellbeing Group to name a few.

He has also held events such as the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. Whilst I brought in the Hearing Dogs for the Deaf he arranged for the Guide Dogs for the Blind to attend the Newport Site. He has also organised for them to show people what it is like to be blind by having a sensory tunnel for people to enter. To date he has been able to raise funding, £5000, for the association meaning that our colleagues now sponsor a puppy named Hero, which is hoped to go on to become a guide dog and changing someone's life.

Dave has also attended the Civil Service Disability Network meetings before I took over. He was able to use this role to help the organisation gain an insight into what was happening across the civil service and where the organisation needed to improve.

Between us we have worked together to help improve the working environment of ONS, to help the organisation gain the awards it has done, to working with areas within ONS in making the organisation an accessible one for both its staff and customers alike. I for one couldn't have achieved anywhere near as much as I have without the support and commitment of Dave. We will continue to work closely, continue to help staff across ONS, and continue to champion disability and the removal of barriers across ONS and the wider community.

I’m Sue Reeves, I’m 2 years shy of being 50, married and for most of my working life (just a few months short of 30 years) I have been working for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) at their Titchfield site. I’m deaf (totally deaf in right ear, about 50% hearing in my left ear) and have been since birth so have grown up with that very much part of my life. I don’t know what it’s like to hear fully but I have come to realise that I don’t want to either: it’s who I am. I also suffer from epilepsy but came to realise the causes, it was shame that I couldn’t do the cross country run at school (I was gutted, really I was), so have been able to manage this area of my life.

When at senior school I was the first pupil with hearing issues to attend and everyone viewed it as a way of seeing how it could it would work for me and for the school. By doing this it has helped pupils who joined the school after me to have a better learning environment as the school was able to get it right for them from the off.

I left school with minimal qualifications but I have continued to take opportunities to work towards higher levels of qualification. I’m continuing to develop my knowledge and further my education as I feel it’s important to keep learning something new. Having left school I had a couple of short term jobs before joining ONS and have now worked my way up into middle management.

As you may gather, I’m not a high-flyer, I’m not a director but I’m what you may say, a shop floor worker wanting a working environment where everyone can work together. Halfway through my career at ONS our welfare officer began a corporate diversity initiative looking to promote disability issues; I took the opportunity to get involved and became chair of the group, a role I have had ever since. I became active in promoting diversity in general including becoming chair of the LGBTT group, a post I had for almost a decade. There is a new LGBTT chair but I still support the group wherever I am.

I work with various areas within ONS such as the Facilities Management, Diversity and Inclusion team, other diversity network chairs, Health and wellbeing committee to name a few. Via this work I have become known as the go to person on diversity related matters, if I don’t know it I know who should!

Recently I asked the disability group members to vote on whether they wanted me to continue within my role as chair and they unanimously re-elected me to carry on as group chair. I am very proud to continue with my work on disability and diversity in general and will continue to support group members and non-group members over the next 2 years.

I am part of the Civil Service Disability Network and a member of its executive committee looking at issues affecting disabled civil servants across all departments. It aims to improve the level of attainment as well as increase the proportion of people with disabilities within the civil service, including debating current work being carried out to ensure that staffs with disabilities are not unduly affected and their working environments are improved.

Currently I am overseeing a series of presentations that disabled members of staff are giving about their own disability. I have given a presentation about growing up and working with deafness. Its aim is to help people understand what it is like for that person and what barriers they have faced and how they have overcome it. I am also overseeing an International Day for Persons with Disabilities, which is in it’s 4th year, where we are planning to have talks, stands and ‘see what’s it like’ events over a course of two weeks.

Our work has been recognized by ONS senior civil servants, including the National Statistician, receiving positive feedback from them as well as support for my continuing drive to make the working environment better for members of staff with disabilities. By doing this it will also help all staff regardless of who they are.

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