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Equity, diversity and inclusion
For wild things and all of us
Heal was founded to provide opportunities for everyone get involved in rewilding. We understand how important it is for people to have access to natural spaces - thriving, wildlife-rich places - for the benefit of their mental and physical health.
At Heal, we take our role as a future landowner seriously. As an organisation that will provide access to nature and the countryside, it's critically important to us that everyone visiting Heal sites, communicating with our staff and volunteers, and interacting with us online and in the media feels safe, welcome and included.
Recognising the need for action
Unfortunately, not everyone feels safe and welcome in rural areas. Many people in the UK face barriers that restrict their access to, and enjoyment of, the countryside. These barriers tend to be invisible to those of us who are lucky enough to not have personally experienced them.
Heal recognises its responsibility, as a future landowner, to create opportunities for improved access and inclusivity in the countryside and the rewilding sector. That's why we are developing our plans in consultation with organisations that represent people from a range of backgrounds and with a variety of experiences. We are committed to ensuring that:
People with mental disorders or mental health problems can find solace and peace at our sites
We offer affordable experiences so that people on low incomes are not excluded
We consider the needs of people with physical disabilities across all areas of our sites, including access to the main rewilding area and our visitor facilities such as the cafe, educational centres and our campsite, and make provision as far that is financially and physically possible* and, of course, meeting our legal obligations to make reasonable adjustments
People who are unfamiliar with the countryside are provided with the equipment (e.g. boots, coats) and guidance (e.g. assistance with navigation) needed to feel comfortable exploring our sites
A range of dietary requirements are catered for, taking into consideration people's varied health conditions, cultures and religions
Through communications from our staff, volunteers and media/publications, people feel included regardless of their age, gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, religion, culture or other personal attribute or characteristic
That we remain willing to learn and open to criticism so that we continue to grow, adapt and improve
*This will include the delivery of capital works, for example laying paths, removing stiles/gates, constructing hides/viewing platforms and installing signs. We will begin fundraising for this expenditure after the acquisition of the site, however, we won't be able to guarantee the provision nor its extent initially.
Action taken so far
We are a very small team and a relatively young organisation (we launched in March 2020 - at the beginning of the first COVID-19 lockdown). This means we have the opportunity to embed diversity and inclusion in our policies and procedures as we form them for the first time.
In October 2020, Heal staff and volunteers formed an open diversity work group in Slack (an online app we use to coordinate our volunteers). This team have been conducting research, networking and attending educational events. They have applied their learnings to help Heal by providing valuable insight and guidance to Heal's staff and trustees. As a result, the Heal team have learned, adapted and grown. For example, some key organisational changes that have come about from this work include, but are not limited to:
Heal now exclusively uses a name-blind (anonymous) recruitment process to rule out unconscious bias
Heal staff members display their preferred pronouns via internal communications channels (i.e. email and Slack) and external channels (i.e. social media)
Heal staff and volunteers ensure that the images we use in our communications and marketing are diverse and representative of people from a wide range of communities
In October 2021, we teamed up with Ecosulis and All The Elements to call for action to build an inclusive rewilding sector:
In Autumn 2021, we launched a new project with an equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) consultant. In 2022, as part of this work, our staff, trustees and some key volunteers participated two training EDI courses and set up a formal EDI action group.
Next steps for Heal
Our next step is to apply our learnings to formulate an action plan to ensure that equity, diversity and inclusion is at the core of everything we do, including fostering an inclusive organisational culture, embedding EDI into our recruitment and ensuring our policies and procedures are designed to help us meet our EDI goals.
We'll keep our supporters and subscribers updated about the outcome of this work. You can subscribe for updates by filling out this form.
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