Area manager Sandra on Thames Reach’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group

Thames Reach’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group is an integral part of Thames Reach’s ongoing commitment to these values. Its convenor and area manager Sandra Barrett discusses her career progression and details how the group functions.

Area manager Sandra on Thames Reach’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group

Can you tell us a bit about your role and time at Thames Reach?

I joined Thames Reach as project worker, over 25 years ago, at the service now known as the Bermondsey Project. From there I worked in a range of roles across the organisation, including project leader before becoming an area manager in 2011. Since that time I have overseen a wide range of services, and currently I am responsible for Supported Housing. I am also the convenor for the organisation’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) group.

How does the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group work?

The group meets quarterly, and now via Zoom. The forum is a place to share good practice and some of the challenges faced by our service users and staff in these areas. It can also highlight issues that are taken up and addressed at a higher level.  An example of operational change implemented was the use of Language Line. This came about as a result of feedback to the forum that the database of languages spoken by Thames Reach staff wasn’t as effective as it could be. Now with the introduction of Language Line, translation is available to all staff when needed. Feedback to the group has also informed our campaigning, such as highlighting the problems faced by EU nationals which brought about greater access to services for this cohort. I would like EDI to be viewed in much the same way as Health and Safety, in that everyone has a responsibility to be mindful and act where there are breaches.

Thames Reach have been vocal in the campaign for key workers and people experiencing homeless to have access to the COVID vaccine. What are your thoughts?

The local authorities we work with have made the COVID vaccine available to Thames Reach’s front line workers. Initially, like many others, I wanted to wait to take the vaccine to see how other people fare with it. However, with more information, over time my attitude has changed and I am pleased to say I had my first vaccine on Sunday. Whilst it does not give me 100% protection it gives me some comfort that in a few weeks’ time I will have some level of protection against COVID.