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We were delighted to welcome 120 delegates from NHS organisations across the country to our Celebrating Diversity in NHS Finance 2019 event yesterday. And what a day it was!
The event was held in the heart of China Town, Soho, and decorations from a variety of cultures were displayed across the hall and hung from the ceiling. Quite a different setting to what we are all used to in NHS finance!
The whole concept for this event was based on an idea of doing something completely different, to push boundaries and to celebrate the diversity of our workforce in a fun, informative and humorous way. The challenges that the NHS, and finance in particular, are facing around equality, diversity and inclusion are now widely discussed at conferences and events. So, we didn’t want to solely focus on the negatives, as we are all now more than aware of the issues, but rather to focus on the positives and celebrate what we’re all working on together. The event was organised to be networking-focused so that delegates would make new connections and have interesting and valuable discussions with their colleagues in an informal and relaxed environment.
The event kicked off with our World Café morning which was set up as an informal speed-networking session. Over coffee and a pastry (or two), colleagues got to know one another and chatted through some discussion points printed on tables. After a ring of the bell, delegates then moved onto another table to meet new faces and continue the networking warm up exercise.
Then out of nowhere, shouting voices across the room disrupted the discussions and we were all drawn to watching two women act out a work-based scenario that touched on D&I challenges and issues that many people are facing currently, to set the scene for the next session – a facilitated theatre performance. During this session delegates were tasked with working together on tables to discuss the themes touched on in the performance and to then feedback to the room. This was a fantastic session that really built up energy in the room and continued our event focus of interaction and discussion.
After a busy and energy-filled morning, we were all very much ready for lunch which consisted of food from different cuisines around the world. Whilst digging into Indian dhal and sampling Spanish paella, delegates had the opportunity to speak to representatives on our best-practice market stalls who shared the good work their organisations are doing for staff around D&I. Lots of interesting learning to take back to the ranch!
Cultural entertainment was next up on the agenda, and we hadn’t specified what this was - so we were delighted to have dance group Bollywood Vibes do a surprise performance of a fabulous and very glamourous Bollywood routine which brought in new energy and excitement after our break for lunch. There are videos circulating on Twitter of this so do take a look using the hashtag #CDFN19.
For the last session of the day, we welcomed our Keynote speaker to the stage – Paris Lees, a transgender activist and columnist for Vogue and the Guardian. Paris was invited to speak about her personal experiences of being a trans-women in the media and to discuss openly what she has had to overcome to get to where she is today. This was a very hard-hitting and raw session and we are thankful to Paris for not holding back and sharing some difficult and heart-breaking experiences that she had to deal with at such a young age. There were some extremely important messages for us all to take away from Paris’s talk, and we think the main bit of advice was for us to just be kinder to one another. A great message to end the day on.
All of us in the FFF central team would like to thank everyone who attended and supported this event. It was the first time we have done anything like this, and we hoped that you enjoyed it and found it a valuable way to spend a Thursday out of the office!
We are very much interested in your feedback on all elements of the day, so if you haven’t filled out our online survey yet, please do so by using this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CDNF19
Thank you again and we are looking forward to the next one already!
Check out some of our favourite photos from the event below.
If you would like a copy of any of the photos taken at the Celebrating Diversity in NHS Finance 2019 event please get in contact with us at firstname.lastname@example.org