NELFT Staff Networks

The Equality Act and the NHS Equality Delivery System (EDS2)  which have been in operation since October 2010 and April 2012 rely upon rigorous engagement with staff on key issues, such as discrimination, harassment and having fair and transparent processes by providing supportive and family friendly flexible working arrangements, improving diversity at all levels, tackling harassment and discrimination and developing the skills and talents of all staff to improve service delivery and have better outcomes for staff and patients. One way of engaging with staff, is through Staff networks. Each of the networks has an action plan that they are delivering on to support staff.

The networks are supported by the Trust Equality and Diversity Team.

The Trust currently has eight established staff networks in place. These are:

Disability staff network (DSN)

The NELFT disability staff network was set up in response to a survey which looked to improve the quality of working lives of staff with disabilities. Currently, 5% of the workforce has declared that they have a disability. The network offers support for staff of NELFT who share common, positive values and have different skills. The network will help raise the profile of disability staff and will provide advice and guidance, in a confidential and safe environment.

The network launched its DSN strategy and is working towards compliance and implementation of the Workforce Disability Equality Standard and becoming a Disability Confident Organisation.

The network meets on a monthly basis and is open to all staff who have an interest in improving working lives of staff. The network is looking at improving and developing the following:

  • Supporting managers in making reasonable adjustments
  • Supporting staff with dyslexia
  • A leadership course for staff with a disability

The network’s Executive lead is; Simon Hart, Executive Director of People and Culture and the network is co-chaired by Susan Smyth and Marie-Anne Ferreira-Pursley. The network is supported by Koya Greenaway-Harvey from the EDI team.

For further information, advice and or to join the network:

In this video our CEO Prof. Oliver Shanley OBE and Jacqui Van Rossum, Executive Director for Integrated Care in London, are in conversation wtih Marie-Antoinette Ferreira-Pursley, Co-Chair of our Disability Staff Network and co-chair for Dyslexia and Specific Learning Difficulties Network. They talk through the disability support available for NELFT staff and our ambitions to make sure that NELFT is a fully disability inclusive employer. 


The Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Disabilities Staff Network

Dyslexia is a hidden disability affecting around 10% of the population. It is the most common of the Specific Learning Difficulties, a family of related conditions with considerable overlap or co-occurrence. Together these are believed to affect around 15% of people to a lesser or greater extent.

Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs) affect the way information is learned and processed. They are neurological, usually hereditary and occur independently of intelligence. They include:

The Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Disabilities Forum is a sub-group to the Disability Staff Network. It was established in May 2016 to provide a safe, confidential and supportive space for employees with dyslexia and related SpLDs. The co-chair of the network is:  Marie-Anne Ferreira-Pursley and Sheryl Myers, and the network is supported by Koya Greenaway-Harvey from the EDI team.

The aim of this support group is to enable affected staff to meet to discuss any difficulties or issues faced in the workplace and to share ideas and coping strategies. As well as allowing individuals the opportunity to share information and discuss challenges, it looks at ways in which they can be supported on a personal and organisational level.

Staff members from Equality and Diversity, Health and Safety, HR and IT attend meetings to offer support.

For further information about the group or if you want to join the network,

The Ethnic Minority Staff Network (EMN)

The EMN is a group of staff members working in NELFT, who share common, positive values and have different skills. The aim of the members of the group is to use their collective knowledge, experience and expertise to improve the working environment. This will be achieved through career progression and development of staff from ethnic minority backgrounds. NELFT has 40% of staff from ethnic minority group and serves a diverse population. Networks are seen as vehicles for professional development, achieving a culture change and disseminating practical ways of managing diversity to the benefit of staff, patients and the organisation.

The EMN have a strategy in place, Working Together for a Better TomorrowThe network has been in existence since 2016 and this is the Trust’s third strategy.

The network’s Executive Lead is Oliver Shanley, CEO, and is co-chaired by Cathrine Lund and Natasha Howard and deputy chair is Stephen Singh-Khakhian. The network is sponsored and supported by Harjit K Bansal from the EDI team.

For further information and to join the network,

To join any of the networks use the link and you can tick one or many: http://nelftintranet/trust-information/equality-and-diversity/join-a-network.htm

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Staff Network (LGBT+)

The remit of the LGBT staff network is to raise the profile of the LGBT staff, support and provide advice and guidance in a confidential and safe environment. The network will give staff opportunities to seek the collective support from others in the Trust. 

The LGBT+ staff network is chaired by Charlotte James. The Executive Champion for the LGBT+ is Jacqui Van Rossum, Interim NELFT CEO. The network continues to grow and has recently joined with the allies network led by Emma Woodward, Clinical Lead for Children’s OT and Physiotherapy, our Lead LGBT+ Ally.

The network holds monthly network meetings where individuals collaborate on actions for the Network Strategy. The network has also launched it’s ‘safe space’ to offer LGBTQ+ staff at NELFT to connect with each other in a less formal space via Teams.

There has been remarkable progress this year the following has been achieved:

  • A webinar to make International Day of Homphobia, Biphobia and Transphobia lead by an incredible group of trans speakers, both from within NELFT and external guest speakers.
  • Our Trans Awareness Training with Transactual, due to be launched at the end of June.
  • Dylan Gallagher appointed as our Trans Lead for the Network.
  • Regular slots on the all staff webinar to promote training opportunities, queer history and updates from our Network.
  • Our LGBT History Month Newsletter which is packed full of celebrations of queer history, music, celebrating network talent and a collection of resources for our LGBTQ+ community.
  • Regular awareness events.
  • Closer working with neighbouring LGBT+ Staff networks and joint events.
  • We are attending Essex Pride, London Pride & Black Pride to engage our community and promote our work at NELFT.
  • Installed a memorial bench at Goodmeyes Hospital for Trans Day of Remembrance where we held a vigil for those we have lost.
  • Worked with our patient participation rep to deliver bespoke training to teams within NELFT.

The network are particularly proud in achieving a Top 100 place and Gold award within the Stonewall Workplace Equality index, placing 89th a vast improvement on our last entry when we placed 317th. The network will be reapplying with Stonewall in 2024.

In addition to this the network has set the following aims for 2022/2023:

  • Develop a LGBT+ Service users’ policy
  • To work intersectionally with other staff networks at NELFT.
  • Develop training sessions focused on the needs of LGBT+ children and Young People
  • To enhance engagement with the network from additionally marginalised LGBT+ groups
  • To develop /identify a LGBT+ leadership programme

Email: or Equality&

LGBT+ Network - Newsletters


Queer people of colour / faith / migrants

Sarbat for LGBTQ+ Sikhs - (Community and peer support) - About — Sarbat Sikhs

Gay Indian Network - (Community and peer support) - Gay Indian Network London

Imaan for LGBTQ+ Muslims - (Community, peer support and wellbeing services) - Imaan – The UK's leading LGBTQ Muslim Charity (

Pride without Borders (Legal and peer support for queer migrants) - LGBTQI+ - City of Sanctuary UK

Rainbow Noir (Safe affirming community spaces for queer Black people) - HOME | RainbowNoirMCR

BLKOUT UK - (Community for queer black men) - BLKOUTUK.COM – Black queer men #makingspaceforus

Trans and non-binary people

TransActual UK (Healthcare workers support, research) - TransActual

Mermaids - (Support foryounger people) - Homepage - Mermaids (

What the Trans?! - (Trans news) - What The Trans!? – News media for trans people

Gendered Intelligence - (Education, youth support and helpline) - Home | Gendered Intelligence

MindOut Trans and Non Binary (Mental Health and Wellbeing Services) - Trans and gender-diverse services - MindOut LGBTQ Mental Health

Older people

Age UKLGBT+ Groups & Support near me | Age UK

Out TogetherOut Together

Opening Doors Opening Doors

Mind Out Age Matters - (Wellbeing support) - 50+ Project - MindOut LGBTQ Mental Health Service

General Resources

LGBT Foundation - (Befriending, LGBTQ+ dementia, hate crime reporting, helpline and email support, trans advocacy, talking therapies, sober sex, cost of living support, stop smoking, armed forces project, and more) - LGBT Foundation - Home

Galop - (Support for people who have experienced domestic and sexual abuse, hate crime, conversion therapy, forced marriage and other types of abuse) - Galop - the LGBT+ anti-abuse charity

London Friend - (Support for : coming out, drug & alcohol, chem sex, friends and family affected by chem sex, mental health, hate crime, social isolation, asylum seekers, counselling, helplines, apps & safety) - Home Page - London Friend

Stonewall Housing - (Housing advice line, safe and supported housing, mental health advocacy, specialist advice for those fleeing honour based violence, domestic abuse and forced marriage) - Stonewall Housing – Stonewall Housing LGBTQ+ Charity

LGBT Switchboard - (Information, support and referral service for lesbians, gay men and bisexual and trans people – and anyone considering issues around their sexuality and/or gender identity) - Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline

The BeYou Project - (Connecting LGBTQ+ young people (13-25) to meet, build community and socialise) - The BeYou Project - Porchlight

Hearing Support Group Network

The Hearing Impairment Network is a sub-network for the Disability Staff Network, and is open for all staff at NELFT to share their experiences and raise awareness around hearing loss. The network is designed primarily to provide support to any member of staff who is, or cares for someone who is, either deaf or suffers from hearing loss – or for any member of staff who is interested in understanding more about deafness and hearing loss. The network provides support in relation to reasonable adjustments such as access to work, audiology needs or liaising with your manager / occupational health.

The network is chaired by Kelly Curley and supported by Jeremy Rose, EDI manager. For further information and to join the network:

Interfaith Staff Network

The purpose of the Interfaith network is to bring together representatives from different religions and beliefs together to appropriately address and debate the religious/non-belief and spiritual needs of our staff which ultimately impact on better outcomes for our patients. It is also a forum to address and share good practices of religious/beliefs that have a positive impact on people’s health. The remit of the network is to:

  • To raise awareness of different religions/beliefs and non-beliefs of the communities we work and the makeup of our staff group.
  • Raise awareness of key events and celebrations of different faiths.
  • To share knowledge and expertise to promote culturally competency of colleagues to meet the needs of our patients/community we serve.
  • To contribute to the consultation and engagement and support the health inequalities agenda.
  • To service as a forum to share best practice – what works well and taking a joint approach to problem solving
  • To share intelligence and knowledge relating to policy changes and service delivery

The Executive lead for this network is; Joe Fielder, the Chair of the Trust. The network is chaired by Paul McNamara and supported by Harjit K Bansal, from the EDI team. 

For further information and to join the network:

Mental Health Staff Network

The network was launched in 2021 after various requests from staff (prior to Covid and became a requirement during COVID-19)  for staff to have a safe place to receive, speak, discuss and seek informal support in the area of mental health. The network is confidential, open to all staff, and where colleagues are given space to talk and others to listen and give support. The network’s aims are:

  • Safe and open space to have a collective voice on issues affecting colleagues’ mental health.
  • Address gaps in employee relations processes and policies.
  • Raise awareness of key mental health diagnosis and what reasonable adjustments are required that are supportive and address to remove some of the barriers.
  • Have open conversations about taboo around mental health and some of the diagnosis.
  • Address appropriate and accessible pathways of support for staff
  • Develop guidance that supports staff.
  • Explore training needs of colleagues and managers.

The executive lead for this network is Wellington Makala, Director of Nursing. The network is co-chaired by Lucy Millard and deputy chair of the network is Afet Mehmet. The network is supported by Harjit K Bansal, from the EDI Team.

For further information and to join the network:

Parents and Carers Network

The Parents & Carers Network (PCN) was launched in October 2020 with focus groups aimed at speaking to parents and carers about the issues they faced in the workplace and how the Trust could support them going forward. 

The top priorities for the group are to:

  • Champion the vital role of parents and carers across the Trust.
  • To ensure that the group promotes equality, diversity and inclusion among staff members and members of the network.
  • To provide a safe and confidential support group for parents and carers to share their experiences and offer peer support. 
  • Support the work of the Trust in achieving accreditation as a Family Friendly Employer through the Working Families accreditation scheme.
  • To support staff members who are balancing new or ongoing caring responsibilities with work and to signpost to internal and external sources of support 
  • Work together to develop a range of positive and supportive family friendly policies that support the needs of both parents and carers across the Trust.

The Executive lead for the Network is Colin Lynch, Non-Executive Director and is chaired by Catharine Gray and supported by Clare Hare and the Retention & Benefits Team.

For further information and to join the network:

WoMens Staff Network (Gender Equality)

The mission of the WoMen’s Staff network is to create an inclusive, collective platform to explore opportunities that provide information and advice on prevalent issues and challenges faced by everyone at work, in society and in personal life.  The aim of the network is to:

  • Promote equality, diversity and inclusion among staff members.
  • Work together to develop pathways for career evolution and promote campaigns for supporting them in the workplace (explore possibilities).
  • Help source external advice on popular topics concerning them, e.g. Menopause, Prostate Cancer, Pregnancy & Breastfeeding, etc.
  • Raise awareness on sensitive subjects like wellbeing of women periods and access to sanitary products, period poverty.
  • Support pregnant women, new mothers and fathers at work; postnatal mental health support and solutions.
  • Create allies at work.
  • To act as a confidential forum for debate and networking in NELFT.
  • To identify opportunities for work shadowing, mentoring and career development as appropriate.
  • To be a consultative group for NELFT policies in relation to the effect these policies may have on staff members

The executive lead for this network is Liz Delauney, Non-Executive Director. The network is chaired by Pav Devsi and supported by Susan Smyth. The EDI support for this network is Harjit K Bansal.

For further information and to join the network: