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Sunday, 16 January 2022

Cancer charity launches new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging strategy

YOUNG Lives vs Cancer, a charity for children and young people with cancer, has today launched a new two-year strategy focused on diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging (DEIB). The charity, known for its transparency, sets out to be #BraveNotPerfect on the road to becoming a truly diverse and inclusive organisation. 

The strategy, which has been created with the help of staff, volunteers, young people and families the charity supports, sets objectives for all Young Lives vs Cancer staff and volunteers, to ensure everyone is working towards the collective goal of creating a diverse and inclusive organisation. The charity hopes this will go on to make sure all families of children and young people with cancer get the support they need from the moment of diagnosis.  

With the launch of its dedicated DEIB strategy, Young Lives vs Cancer strives to have a culture that is inclusive of everyone who works, volunteers and interacts with the charity, the goal being that people will feel like they truly belong, whoever they are. From recruiting new staff to supporting young people with cancer, the charity hopes to embrace diversity in every aspect of the organisation. 

The strategy strapline is #BraveNotPerfect as the organisation encourages staff and volunteers to test and learn, with the freedom to fail. By striving for flexibility and curiosity, the charity hopes all staff will continue to learn. All staff will also be supported to make informed, inclusive and equitable decisions. 

As part of the strategy’s launch, Young Lives vs Cancer has released a video of Chief Executive Rachel Kirby-Rider speaking with 25-year-old Enkay Rockson-Rapu about the new strategy. Enkay, who was supported by the charity after being diagnosed with clear cell sarcoma at 22, has played an important role in bringing this work to the forefront.  

In June 2020, after George Floyd’s murder, Enkay got in touch with the charity and shared her opinion on the lack of diversity in the stories and experiences shared across their communications. Since then, Young Lives vs Cancer has worked even harder to put DEIB at the heart of what they do. 

In January 2021, the charity hired a new Head of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, they have since held monthly ‘brave space’ sessions to encourage conversations on topics such as women’s health, disability awareness and anti-racism, and the charity has created a DEIB steering group made up of staff, volunteers and service users to help shape their approach. 

In their conversation, Rachel asked Enkay about her experiences of being a young Black woman diagnosed with cancer, how the charity could have offered more support and what she hopes the strategy will achieve for young people with cancer. 

Enkay said:

“When I had my cancer experience I felt a bit like an alien, I looked around and thought ‘there’s no one like me that’s gone through this, I can’t see anybody’s stories I can’t find anything’. For young people diagnosed now I’d hope they could go online and think ‘that’s someone that looks like me’. 

“Bringing those stories forward will help other people feel like ‘I’m not alone’. It’s about finding how to engage with different people, sometimes it takes work but when people feel like ‘this charity cares about me’ they’re more likely to show up and share their stories for other people as well.” 

Now, with the help of young people like Enkay sharing their experiences, Young Lives vs Cancer hopes to grow and be there for every young person with cancer, to make sure no young person or their family faces cancer alone.  

Young Lives vs Cancer Chief Executive Rachel Kirby-Rider said:

“You’re already marginalised when you’re going through cancer treatment as a young person. You’re not with your friends, you’re in a very difficult environment, it’s scary, and you’re isolated. It’s really important all young people and families are understood and can be their authentic selves. Our staff can support everyone in a truly inclusive way, recognising and celebrating differences. 

“As a charity, we had diversity and inclusion on the radar but the events in 2020 were a vital catalyst for us to stop, think and start doing. We know that we’re still at the start of this journey as an organisation but over the last 18 months we’ve been determined to make strides in embedding DEIB into the culture of Young Lives vs Cancer, but there is still so much more we can do.  

“We know that we won’t get it right all the time, but we’re determined to be brave, not perfect and hold ourselves to account. We hope the launch of our dedicated DEIB strategy will help us reach our goal of becoming a truly diverse and inclusive organisation.”

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