Charity Awards 2024

Diverse Excellence Cymru

Raising standards of cultural competency in Wales

Research on equality, diversity and inclusion issues over the last 50 years has revealed overwhelming acknowledgement and acceptance of the inequities and disparities faced by People of Colour (POC) in the UK. Despite numerous well-meaning initiatives, very little practical progress has been made. For example, POC are still 29% more likely to be diagnosed with serious mental health issues in comparison to their white counterparts.

Diverse CymruKey factors in this inequality are the effects of unconscious bias and barriers to accessing culturally competent assistance. As a result, members of POC communities believe that services for health, criminal justice, poverty, housing, homelessness and employment are fundamentally flawed or actively rigged against them.

Diverse Cymru’s Cultural Competence Certification Scheme is an organisational workplace developmental tool, which seeks to improve workplace interaction and service delivery outcomes for POC individuals. This is achieved through support provided to organisations enabling ongoing incremental practical changes from which they can attain validated certification of cultural competency progress.

It grew out of a toolkit for mental health, health and social care in Wales developed in 2016. Although this received excellent reviews from service providers, the charity recognised that this alone would not produce the action-based outcomes needed to make a real difference. A two-year consultation with health boards and civil society organisations led to the development of the scheme.

The scheme is made up of two parts, the first being awareness-raising sessions on issues including the disparities faced by the POC community, and the impact of unconscious bias. Then participants work through a self-assessment evidence workbook to outline evidence of cultural competency progress in their workplace.

Now almost 150 workplace areas within health boards are participating in the scheme, and talks are underway about it being expanded to other sectors including social care and local authorities.

Charity Awards judge Nicola Toyer said it was an impressive application for a project that has managed to reach a lot of health boards in a short space of time.

“It’s leading best practice in the sector in an area of the UK that is not that diverse. And they’re now expanding into other areas – they started with health boards, but now they’re moving into social care and other areas, so it’s got sustainability and replicability.”

Judge Karin Woodley said that over the last 15 years or so, many of the race networks in Wales have been dismantled, and the statistics on exclusion on the basis of race are “pretty damning”.
“So within that context, having anything like this, that the Welsh Government is recognising and working within Wales, to me, should be celebrated.” She added that while previous efforts to address the problem have failed because they tended to be run by white people, Diverse Cymru employs a high proportion of Black staff.

Judge Ruth Davison said: “It’s winning lots of awards, it’s gaining momentum, it’s building up and that is a base layer for real change.”

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