Embedding Inclusion in our approach

Posted on: 3 October 2022

Our mission is to mainstream student social action because we know the tremendous impact it can have on an individual student’s life as well as on the community which they work with to create positive and meaningful change. Our work has always meant we’ve had a keen focus on diversity and inclusion – how else can we mainstream our approach if not all students and all communities are participating and benefitting? 

For over six years, our staff team has had an internal working group focused on diversity and inclusion (D&I), working across Hubs and the network to improve practices and processes in everything we do. Over the past few years, we’ve spent more time having challenging conversations with each other, understanding and working through the privilege we have as an organisation and a charity in a very non-diverse sector, and have continued to push forward a more inclusive way of working. 

Historically we’ve worked by identifying challenges and areas for improvement, resolving them with small projects, training sessions, and the creation of policies, but this has always felt somewhat reactive. As we move forward as an organisation, we’re working on a new strategy for the future, and we wanted to create an inclusion statement to help guide our work: broad enough to grow with us on our journey while also outlining our ethos, values, and commitment, allowing us to take a more proactive view of what we want to achieve. This statement will be used as a guide for the wider, more structural and action-based work that will come from our new strategy. 

Student Hubs is committed to transparency, openness, and continual learning when it comes to equity, diversity, and inclusion. We encourage all staff, volunteers, and partners to approach work, challenges, and relationships with empathy, fairness, and equality. 

Taking this statement one step further, we wanted to find a way to incorporate our commitment to inclusion within all of our work. We know that to be a truly inclusive organisation D&I needs to be embedded within everything we do, not just an added extra. To do this, we looked to our organisational values. Alongside our vision, mission, and theory of change, Student Hubs’ values have been a guiding post for the team. We consider them when we plan for the upcoming year, within our termly goals and OKRs (objectives and key results), and discuss them within our strategic plans and appraisals. It made sense for us to link our commitment to inclusion with our values to ensure we are considering them in everything we do. 

Our inclusion values are aspirational, it’s about setting us on the path to who we aim to be with every decision we have to make.  

Be Bold: We are unafraid to challenge inequality, bigotry, and are committed to being part of positive change to create a fairer, more equal society. We challenge ways of working and thinking from a place of learning, equality, and innovation. We are unafraid to take risks, learn and adapt to ensure we are flexible and reactive to the current issues facing our society.

Be Social: We take a person-centred approach to all areas of our work. We know that connection is at the core of change and we work to create safe, welcoming, and inclusive spaces for people to contribute their opinions and ideas, make friendships, and flourish.

Be Ambitious: We believe that any approach to inclusion should be ambitious and go beyond what is already being done. We aim high but intend to bring everyone on this journey, valuing that hearing lived experience is critical to informed intersectional change. 

Be Motivational: We support, empower, and encourage our staff, volunteers, and partners to approach work from a place of passion and authenticity – championing their voices, ideas, and experiences in the direction of our work.

Be Long-term: We know that inclusion work should never be viewed as complete and that our work exists within wider systems of inequality and oppression. We are committed to taking intersectional approaches to inclusion and viewing this commitment as a journey of continual improvement and learning.

So what’s next? 

As we gear up for another academic year, there’s lots for us to be doing to be meeting the challenges facing our students and the community groups we work with. Alongside continuing our reactive work, our plans for this year include working on:

  1. Data and Impact – Improving the quality and quantity of data we collect and sharing it more effectively 
  2. Training – Enhancing our already detailed training that staff and students receive as part of their Student Hubs experience, and ensure that everyone has the space to learn 
  3. Local Hub Development – Supporting local Hubs to improve aspects of programme delivery, work with local partners to consider D&I and accessibility, and continuing to work closely with our internal Comms and Marketing Team to ensure accessibility and representation is at the heart of all our external facing work too. 
  4. Decolonising Our Work – Picking up our work from last year, we’ll be continuing to consider how colonial values prevalent in society and the charity sector impact our work, and be taking action to decolonise our approach 
  5. Best Practice Sourcing – We’re making space to spend more time talking to others, reading, and learning about D&I outside of our bubble. 

And on that final note, we welcome comments, feedback, and signposts to other work from everyone. You can get in touch with us by emailing info@studenthubs.org or by dropping into our DM’s on Instagram (@studenthubs)

You can read more about our D&I journey here: 

You can get in touch with a local Hub here: 

Simran Dhanjal-Field

Simran Dhanjal-Field is Student Hubs' CEO and the Chair of our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Team. If you want to chat further about our work reach out on sim.dhanjal@studenthubs.org

Tags: Impact, News, People and Culture, Policy

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