It has been a year since our first AGM and what a busy year it has been. We have introduced new clauses in our constitution to help committee members to go on maternity, paternity or sick leave. It also allows us to co-opt other committee members to their roles. We have even been able to test the new clause out! We had a fantastic workshop at the CIfA conference in Leicester and had to turn people away because of the high levels of interest. Our website is growing with blogs and advice for you to tap into. We have also had an extremely active social media presence which has attracted over 300 Twitter followers already (@CIfA_Equality). This summer we produced a newsletter jam-packed with updates, an introduction to the committee and lots of useful information. You may well be wondering what is next? Read on….
We are very lucky in that we have been invited to help organise Theresa O’Mahony and Victoria Reid’s 2017 CIfA Conference session ‘How are we making archaeology accessible for all and are we doing it well enough?‘. You may remember Theresa was a speaker at our 2016 CIfA Conference workshop. We are also currently working with the Community and Voluntary Special Interest Group to arrange Mental Health First Aid training next March. It therefore seems appropriate that for 2017 our theme will be ‘Disability and Mental Health’. We have deliberately chosen to announce this now as tomorrow (3rd December) is International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
A thematic approach
One of the joys of being part of this group is the sheer variety we cover. Between ideas from committee members, group members and this year’s conference workshop we have enough to keep us going for a lifetime. The downside to this though is knowing where to start. Clearly there is a need for the group, but with the quantity of actions we could take forward we run the risk of overwhelming ourselves into minimal action or even worse, inaction. We have discussed this at our last committee meeting and made the decision that we need to try and focus the bulk of our activities. To that end we are going to pick a yearly ‘theme’ to help guide our CPD activities, awareness raising and some of our campaigns.
Let us reassure you – this does not mean we will be ignoring anything that falls outside the theme for that year. We cannot predict what will happen day to day let alone year to year, and so we still need to react to and challenge those areas where equality and diversity is not happening. By having a theme, we ensure we turn the spotlight onto a specific area for a reasonable length of time to enable it to get the attention it deserves. It also allows us to better organise our activities to free up some time for the urgent and unexpected issues that come to the fore.
Although we have chosen our 2017 theme we want group members to help us choose future ones. Please get in touch with your ideas. As 2018 marks 100 years since women first received the right to vote in the UK under The Representation of the People Act 1918, one suggestion that has been made is that our 2018 theme should be Universal Suffrage. Send us your ideas and we will vote on it at the AGM!
With our 2017 theme identified we can start to think about setting up our first working group. The idea behind having smaller focused working groups is that members can get directly involved in work on behalf of the wider Group. Given our 2017 theme, our first working group will be looking into Disability and Mental Health in the heritage sector. Anyone who is a member of the Equality and Diversity Group can join. You can be a member of the group without having CIfA membership. If you know any non-CIfA members who would like to be involved it costs only £10 per year to become a member of the Equality and Diversity Group, so do encourage them to join. You can join via PayPal from the CIfA groups page (http://www.archaeologists.net/groups) .
The main remit if each working group will be to help us get a better understanding of the issues and to start to identify how we go forward in tackling them. That said, we do not want to constrain the working group by setting out exactly what it will be doing before it has met, so do get in touch if you have any ideas and thoughts. Once the working group has been set up we will report back with more information about what it will be doing.
Changes to the committee
It is with mixed feelings that we announce some changes to the committee.
We are delighted to announce a new committee member – Laura Hampden. Laura was co-opted to the committee in November and we look forward to formally voting her onto the committee at the next AGM.
Mike Kimber, one of our original committee members, is stepping down from the committee. Mike has been a huge help in getting us communicating with FAME and was one of our facilitators at the CIfA conference workshop. He has always been on hand to cast a critical eye over our articles and papers, helping to make sure we hit the right note. We are sad that Mike is stepping down but are delighted that he will remain a group member and continue to contribute to our activities. Thank you Mike!
Amanda Feather, who originally set up the group with Hannah Cobb, is stepping down as Secretary. The good news is Amanda is not leaving the committee and until our AGM (which we will announce soon) will be our Treasurer. At the AGM we hope to elect a new Treasurer, and Amanda will continue as an ordinary committee member with responsibility for organising our CPD events.
Sarah MacLean, who originally joined as Treasurer, will be moving from Treasurer to Secretary and is now the point of contact for general queries.
Finally, you may not be aware, but our chair Hannah Cobb has been on maternity leave since August. As a result of our revamped constitution we have been able to co-opt our ordinary committee member Jim Brightman as chair until Hannah returns in May.
What this means is that there are going to be some committee places up for grabs at the AGM. We hope to be able to announce details of the AGM soon and formally ask for people to apply to join the committee. If you think you might be interested, keep an eye out for the announcement and get ready to fill in your application form. Feel free to contact any of our committee members about what it is like to be on the Equality and Diversity Group committee. You can also contact our Twitter account @CIfA_Equality or our secretary Sarah MacLean on sarah.maclean@HistoricEngland.org.uk.