Our Disability Affinity Group focuses on creating an inclusive and accessible workplace for all colleagues. Discussions regularly cover actions and initiatives designed to make sure everyone is supported and can effectively self-manage any ongoing disability and mental health-related wellbeing issues
At Vanquis Banking Group, we are committed to building a diverse and inclusive workplace where everyone can be themselves and succeed. We want our people to feel confident they can talk openly about their disabilities and request the adjustments or support they need to carry out their roles effectively and achieve their full potential.
I chose to lead the Disability Affinity Group because I am passionate about ensuring the workplace provides an equal and safe space for disabled people. As a disabled person myself, I have encountered challenges in many workplaces, and the Disability Affinity Group is an amazing community which helps to tackle important issues. Not only do I get to advocate for people who have the same disability as me, but I have learned so much about the diverse range of disabilities other people live with and can help to advocate for them too. I am proud to be a part of a group that helps PFG be inclusive across the board. Lara Hoban, Disability Affinity Group Co-Lead
Focus areas for the Disability Affinity Group
- Ensure disability inclusion is on the Group Exco agenda.
- Ensure the working environment is accessible and inclusive for all.
- Ensure appropriate resources are in place to deliver our vision.
- Ensure colleagues and customers are adequately supported and able to effectively 'self-manage' ongoing workplace disability and mental health wellbeing issues.
The Disability Affinity Group has worked with the Business Disability Forum to complete the Disability Smart Audit. This has allowed it to identify areas for prioritisation and focus with a view to improving disability inclusion across the Banking Group.
Through our Social Impact Programme, we also seek to support barriers to social and financial inclusion within our communities. Through Social Impact Funds, we have provided grants to a number of small voluntary organisations that are supporting people with disabilities. Find out more about some examples of this in the case studies, towards the bottom of this page.
Recent Case Studies
Our partnerships with community foundations enable us to distribute grants to organisations that support the communities in which we operate. Our grants address the challenges which prevent financial and social inclusion. Community foundations help us to ensure that our grants tackle issues that are prevalent in each location.
In 2021, we provided 51 grants to small voluntary organisations, totalling £307k. Three of those provide support and activities for people with autism, so we thought that National Autism Acceptance Week was the perfect time to tell you about the fantastic work they do.
Based in Croydon, Autus work with young autistic people to raise their aspirations, harness their potential, and improve their lives and prospects through confidence-building and skills development. Autus’ 3D online ‘campus’ allows people to engage in learning without having to negotiate a new, unfamiliar, physical environment and social group, which can be a significant barrier to them due to sensory and social challenges.
They use technology, in particular gaming technology, to engage people in learning and skills development. Also on offer is job coaching, accredited courses, employment/volunteering opportunities and programmes to help people secure and sustain work.
Our £10,000 grant is being used to deliver ‘Digital Horizons’ programme, a twice-weekly online workshop which will help to develop digital skills training and employability support for 25 young autistic people over 50 weeks. This will help to increase their work aspirations and knowledge of career paths and roles within the digital sector as well as reducing anxiety and improving confidence in a work environment. Alongside this, the young people will also develop digital and technical skills with progression to accredited skills courses and qualifications, leading to employment.
Marvels and Meltdowns
The team at Marvels and Meltdowns promote, maintain and improve the physical, mental and social wellbeing of children and young people who have in particular, but not exclusively, Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and their families by raising awareness of the conditions in Gosport, Fareham, and the surrounding areas. They do this by providing guidance, encouragement, information and education. Crucially, they also organise activities to help relieve isolation and promote wellbeing, including supporting parents and carers. Improving opportunities is an important area of their work too, increasing access to things such as work experience, volunteering and social activities.
Deprivation and isolation within the community supported by Marvels and Meltdowns is rife due to the nature of the needs and disabilities of the children and families. They aim to break down the barriers encountered by families on a daily basis and bridge the gap to enable people to feel part of a community where they’re not judged. The families are able to access many activities that others would take for granted in everyday life, giving them opportunities and experiences they would not otherwise engage in.
Our funding is helping to upgrade IT equipment and also to create a space for staff and volunteers to decompress from what is often emotionally intensive work. As a responsible funder, it’s important for us to offer core funding to organisations to help ensure that they can continue to operate – this funding can be quite difficult to find.
“It was great to take part in this panel and as someone with autism, I was able to use my own experience to help with my decision-making when awarding them a grant. I could also explain certain aspects to the grant panel which helped them to better understand why this grant was so important.” Lara Hoban – Compliance Officer, Moneybarn
Formed by a group of parents in May 2019, Medway Puzzles provides help for families, children and young adults with autism, people with a disability and those with long-term health conditions. Their aim is to bring families together to share experiences, meet others and spend social time with people who understand them.
Based in Medway, they deliver a range of weekly social, recreational, and learning activities across Kent, to children, young people and adults with Autism and their family and friends, to improve their physical health and mental well-being. Activities include an outreach programme for families struggling to cope, a regular coffee morning, a play programme and one-to-one advice with benefits forms and accessing local council services.
Our funding will enable Medway Puzzles to run five large family outings to get families out and reduce their anxiety, improve mental health and increase participants’ self-esteem.
Those on the spectrum with autism and other disabilities can struggle to socialise with others and with accessing events by themselves without support. They need to be supported with peers that they can talk to and associate with, so they can try to build on friendships and understand that they’re not alone. Participants are encouraged to join in with activities and with each other, whilst being made to feel safe and welcomed.