Towards a Caring Community at Loughborough University London
A programme of activities was developed at Loughborough University London as a response to the need to do more in the community to help those who balance work with caring responsibilities. Led by Loughborough University London Carers and Parents Group alongside Lboro London EDI Committee, it also considered how caring can be put at the centre of what is done more generally at Loughborough University London. This resulted in the School adopting a vision for a Caring Community, a set of principles and identifying a range of actions that it might take from here. The programme received a Vice Chancellor Award (2022) under Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Campus Development category.
The School’s Dean, Tony Edwards, said, “The award is a recognition not just of the progressive changes that this has brought about but also the participative way in which Emily and Ksenija have led us to this point. The initiative has the potential to be carried over into the rest of the university through Loughborough University London’s involvement in the Working Parents Network and MAIA and be adopted by other schools.”
Several activities, including online café meetups and an informal email list, were initiated between members of staff early on during pandemic, the time that challenged the concept of a strong separation between work and caring responsibilities. These conversations captured experiences of carers and parents at LUL reflecting issues identified in extant literature on this group in the HE context, including gender, intersectionality, part-time contracts, and the impact it has on individuals’ well-being, productivity and opportunities for promotion. These findings led to a set of formalised co-creation workshops and consultations with members of academic and professional staff, doctoral researchers and the LUL EDI Committee over the course of two years. This contributed to a view that an approach and support for carers and parents needs to shift from responsibility for change lying with the parent and carer alone, towards community-based approach that is caring and action-oriented. From this work a vision for a caring community emerged, alongside community-based approach guiding principles, which can be found below and will inform a set of actions that the school is planning to implement.
Our vision for Loughborough London is to create an Inclusive, Equitable and Diverse community that is underpinned by the notion of care. Caring for others is part of the human condition and within the Loughborough London community, caring should be reciprocal between all its members. In a caring community every individual should feel supported to thrive without causing detriment to others. A community that invests in all its members recognises that its members have different needs, and that everyone can contribute to the community in different ways.
We acknowledge that this vision cannot be implemented by a single individual, instead it requires a collective approach that draws on our interdependence and the need to create opportunities for all members to participate in realising the vision. We call this a community-based approach and provide a set of principles that can guide our actions.
- We embrace a flexible mindset;
- We engage in non-divisive approaches to change;
- We recognise and respect differences and diversity in individual circumstances;
- We aim for an equitable community with different allowances based on personal circumstances;
- We aim to create a safe environment where we feel comfortable to raise challenges and complaints;
- We promote and aim to support the growth of community-based approach.
Dr. Andrea Geurin, EDI Lead at Loughborough University London said, “The work undertaken by Ksenija and Emily to develop a vision for a caring community and the related guiding principles highlights the fact that it is human nature to care for others, whether that be as a parent, carer, manager looking after a team of employees, or a lecturer caring for the wellbeing of their students. Caring is something that we all do, and the resulting vision and principles will be important in setting the agenda for further EDI initiatives and work on our campus.”
With the vision and principles being adopted by Loughborough London, we use these as a guiding framework and now move towards a structured stage of principle implementation. The focus now will be to explore how the principles can be implemented through actions, across four areas: culture, structure, strategy and resources of the School.
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