January 22, 2024

Belonging at SCW | James Jackson - NHS South, Central and West

James Jackson, People and Wellbeing Programme Manager at SCW joined us virtually at the NHS Staff Wellbeing Collective to discuss all things belonging at SCW.

Toby Cannon
15 minutes


1. SCW's Emphasis on Well-being:
Prioritising well-being, SCW integrates equality, diversity, and inclusion in their journey towards belonging.

2. The Holistic Mad Hatter Approach: The Mad Hatter philosophy guides a comprehensive well-being strategy, considering strategy, operations, education, and pastoral aspects.

3. Cohesive Well-being Initiatives: Using the jigsaw puzzle metaphor, SCW stresses the importance of a golden thread connecting and aligning well-being initiatives.

4. Simplified Approach for Safety: SCW advocates simplicity, emphasising the significance of keeping promises, integrity, and credibility to enhance a safe well-being environment.

5. Blended Strategy for Sustainability: SCW's strategy combines top-down and bottom-up actions, engaging senior leaders, employee networks, and aligning with NHS philosophy, with a focus on monitoring outcomes for sustainability.


Hi everybody, huge sincere apologies. I couldn't be there in person to join you today and network and connect with so many wonderful and great people gathered at the NHS Well-being Collective in 2023. I'm sure it's been a fantastic day so far. I'm sure it's going to be a fantastic day as it continues.

Believe it or not, I have to be here. I have to be a little bit more on hand to support colleagues, team, and the wider organisation, the culture at this time in relation to well-being. So, perfect reason not to be there but regrettable nonetheless, I couldn't join you.

I was invited to come and talk a little bit about our approach at SCW South Central and West, which is a CSU within the NHS, and our approach in specific relation to belonging at SCW and how that, from a wellness, well-being perspective, we very much have centered well-being at the centre of our approach. There you go, of our approach, and how we are trying our best to ensure that as we go through our journey towards belonging, which encapsulates equality, diversity, inclusion, hence the people and well-being collaboration connectivity, if you will, that we centre that around, we cenre that around ED&Iput wellness well-being at the start, at the heart of it. And that gives us that kind of output of belonging.

So I'm going to talk to you a little bit about that. This is a one-take, one-shot job only. So there might be some errms, there might be some ahs, I might bumble a little bit. But I thought keep it raw, keep it authentic. That's exactly what I would do on stage, right? I can't pause, rewind, and edit. So, I'm not going to do that here, believe it or not.

So what I want to start off with is talking a little bit about the Mad Hatter philosophy. Hopefully, there are slides running alongside this video. If not, they will be made available, and it will all become very, very clear. But the Mad Hatter philosophy is where we're looking at well-being and how you approach that within an organisation. I believe, and as the foremost senior leader in the organisation, subject matter expert, some would argue, on—I'm not, but all jokes aside—the subject matter expert on equality, diversity, inclusion, well-being, people, culture, evolution, and strategy.

What I believe is that actually you've got to think about it and wear multiple different hats. And those hats span being strategical, being operational, being educational, being pastoral. Not in that order, not all in one time, but very often you find yourself having a conversation where you're switching hats from time to time. So, Mad Hat philosophy, and let's be honest, right? You've got to be a little bit mad to work in this space. It's so complex, so challenging, and it's changing, the evolution of it. You know, it's like digitalisation; it's evolving all the time.

Great equality, diversity, inclusion, and well-being is a journey, not a destination in response to societal evolution. So, we have a bit of a Mad Hatter philosophy here, and that's certainly something I bring to the table. You've got to be able to join the dots or bring your jigsaw puzzle together.

Again, slides made available after the video link today and are running concurrently. It will make sense visually. You've got to be able to bring that puzzle together, and a lot of organisations and cultures will be challenged by seeing a number of initiatives around well-being dotted around the organisation, provisions dotted around the organisation, but actually, you know, it's disconnected. It's disjointed. It doesn't align with anything, concurrent and thorough. Have a golden thread running through it. That's why we created the ethos and the theme of belonging at SCW and put well-being at the centre of that.

So, bring your jigsaw puzzle together, join your dots, if you will. And that's something that we've committed ourselves to doing, you know, even if it comes down to centralising one of our well-being provision, one place, one location, accessible platform with digital accessibility embedded within that so that we can incorporate neurodiversity, we can incorporate, you know, temporary and permanent disability, we can incorporate ethnicity and different cultural heritage in terms of language spoken, you know, all of that assistive technology layer over that content, and that central provision is really, really important. Join the dots, bring your puzzle together.

Make sure it's not just about you. It's not just about me. I know you're here listening to me now. I promise this video will not last 15 minutes. Who wants to do that, right? Um, but it's not about me. It's not about, it's about people. So go out and engage and get the voice of people. Establish what something like belonging or well-being, for that matter, if you're going focusing on that, on its own, what does it mean to people? It stands your statement that is reflective of your organisation that gives that kind of verbal context as to what it means across your organisation. Different directorates, different reports, different bandings, different areas of work, internal, external facing, so forth and so on, patient facing, non-patient facing. Um, that will enable you, as it did with us, to create a bespoke model where we wrap equality, div inclusion around it, well-being at the heart. We get that right. We believe that's a solid measure of feeling like you belong within our organisation, as which we all want to feel like we belong within the wider NHS.

Yes, keep it simple, keeping it simple. Equitable, diverse, inclusive with recruitment, creating equality, diversity, inclusion, well-being, immersion enrichment opportunities. You know, that Talent Development, likewise, looking after our people, develop agile inclusive workplaces. You know, hybrid agile working. You know what's your practices, what's your benchmark, where you, where you, where are you seeing it done well? Bringing those procedures, bringing those processes into your organisation, investing in software and technology if you need to, to make sure that we're doing that. But also getting into the key decision makers of procurement, you know, your digital technology forums, how, how are we making sure that there is consideration across the board for inclusive inclusion and so we've got that agile and inclusive workplace. And get the basics right by doing what you say you're going to do. It's a journey. I'm unapologetic about that. You keep it simple. It's a journey. Some things will get right. Some things won't get right. Some things will have to steer a slightly different direction and learn from that. We'll have to navigate around the rocks if your journey is a boat. or track if your journey is train. Just do what you say you're going to do, because integrity and credibility in this space particularly around wellbeing it amplifies the sense of safety. If I know I work in an organisation which will do what it says it's going to do, will provide me with support, is investing in support and provision for me, cares about the wellbeing of it's people. That inevitably by osmosis gives me a greater sense to be my authentic extraordinary sense and when I'm not feeling so great, feel safe and feel I can open up about that. So I'm unapologetic about that.

In our people and wellbeing strategic approach, it's not a waterfall. It's not a top down cascade message from the MD and senior leaders, lets do this, objectify and not built into key measure s and metrics. It's a blend. There is that diamond piece if you will, bit of that top down in terms of engaging with the senior leaders, making sure we've got that sponsorship and engagement, they're clear on what their commitments and actions are and we've done that through investing in development series with them, bespoke development series for that matter. And then, centering it around your 5 steps and making sure they're at the heart of what we're saying and having a bottom up action plan as well. Which is where we've amplified, embraced and inspired and empowered the voice of our people through employee networks, collaboration with data insight, workforce disability equality standards report, your equivalent RES reports, gender pay reports, staff survey and so force and so on.

Alignment with the broader NHS is key, so we know we make sure that our we embracing a we're embracing a philosophy of belonging, that it's in line with the kind of external  philosophy and actually you know we're not behind the times. We make sure that we can identify in the people promise where, if you think about a compassionate inclusive Workforce, that we have that specific  text around feeling it is a place where we can belong so we've got that Synergy there that's really important. And making sure that your Partnerships and your affiliations in the broader NHS you know whether it be through NHS employers leaning into some of that fantastic Learning Resource through NHS elect, collaborating with leadership networks from a BME perspective, health and Health and Care and women leaders perspective LGBTQ+ perspective you're doing that collaboration. Success is really important to me of course you I'm not here to just talk and wax lyrical and actually don't do anything I think you know I talk about take action make impact. Actually you Monitor and Report outcomes from 2022 and 2023, track your staff survey um make sure you can evidence and define that all the actions within the bottom up action plan, which we have, and that's that bottom part of the diamond, it has specific actions what the benefits of that action is and how that is being measured. You know what is the measure of the outcome which is really really key. Working collaboratively like I've touched on before with employee networks senior leaders key stakeholders being transparent and accountable reporting into our Workforce Insurance Development Group staff partnership forums our external reporting which is all available on our website. But also making sure that you're align with your organisational development, cultural plans, your Learning and Development plans and provision and making sure you're feeding to your overarching people plan .

If you want well-being to last, be sustainable, if you want to deliver a a real culture of provision and support you've got to do those things you've got to join the dots it's going to be a tapestry that you weave multitude of threads But ultimately it comes together to weave this tapestry um that that has wellness / well-being at the heart of it and for SCW that's exactly what we have.

Measure your maturity, understand where you were understand where you want to be, by 2025  we have you know wanting to we we have a measure where we want to be culturally proactive. We believe that currently we're becoming strategically active  in terms of where we are with our strategy and implementation of of of some of what I shared with you today, but we've moved from being operationally active into more strategically active and we've definitely evolved from being operationally reactive.

So have a maturity model that takes you through those phases and stages and don't worry if by 2025 you haven't quite hit you know for us culturally proactive it's a journey remember it's a journey it's not a destination  and actually things will change like digitalisation the world of ED&I, well-being it evolves so much so quickly um you've got to be able to adapt  and so don't pin all your initiatives and objectives on they must land and they must deliver by that point give yourself some room not to fail you know let's not you know that's not we don't want to be ambitious in terms of aiming to fail but actually recognise that some things will work some things won't some things you'll want to enhance, some things you'll want to maintain and it's okay to build little provision in that in the way that you deliver your narrative around you know strategically operationally educationally and pastorally how we are approaching Wellness well-being equality inclusion people and well-being within your organisation.

And you know another measure is also the accreditations is is Awards now I'm not in this role for accreditations and awards and accolades it's great if they come we've certainly achieve some here SCW which has been fantastic a little bit earlier than than than we maybe originally thought that we would we would be able to demonstrate that and evidence that but they're a great kite Mark they're a great Benchmark if you can evidence to award bodies accreditations you know that you've done this work and you're committed to this work then take the plaudits, take the reward it has duel benefit those in the role those in the work of delivering wellness and well-being will tell you it's a tough, tough toil and reward type relationship in this space particularly when you add equality diversity inclusion to that so where you get that reward and accolade that's a great, great, great thing great feeling

But it's great for everybody else it's great for the organisational culture but it's great for the existing workforce to see progression and see that being benchmarked and measured and it's fantastic for attraction of new Talent retention of best talent  you know so all of that all of that stuff if you get if you've got the opportunity to submit some of your work and say look this is this is our approach this is what we're doing and we think it's it's worth a bit of uh recognition you think it's worth a bit of kind of let us know let us know give give us give us some feedback and I mean that's why we do that always looking for feedback whether it be internally to our people amplifying the voice of said people or actually externally in in that kind of benchmark and kite mark space.

So that's, that's it 12 minutes quick overview I would have had 15 and 20 you can't be staring at me and my face for for that long you will get bored you know I would get bored of this you would get bored of this no doubt so I'm going to finish off there there is a video that I've provided that just gives a little synopsis of our journey belonging here at SCW. Hopefully we can get that played to follow in my chat.

Just once again sorry I couldn't be with there with you in person sorry I couldn't take any questions in person my contact details will be shared if you've got questions for me if you want me to clarify things expand on things if you want to connect network if you want to collaborate give me a shout but yeah that's us that's how we're in centring embodying wellness and well-being it's at the heart of our model the heart of our approach it's the middle step of our leading five it's a core pillar if you will and I feel massively passionate about the well-being element of the work and the intrinsic link between equality diversity inclusion and well-being and enabling people who feel like they can thrive, flourish be their authentic, extraordinary selves and belong within the NHS and belong within SCW.

Thank you for your time, take care have a great, great festive period, diverse festive celebration to everybody and all take care.

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