Sue Reeves and Darren Cryer, co and vice chairs of The Civil Service Disability Network, on staying relevant, accessibility and leaving grades at the door

Written by Civil Service World on 30 December 2019 in Feature

As 2020 approaches, senior figures from across government reflect on their highlights and challenges of 2019, look ahead to the next 12 months and share their favourite festive memories

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What was your highlight of 2019?

It was the network’s 19th birthday and an opportunity to reflect on how we have helped the civil service become more disability confident. The network was formed on the basis that all contributions are of equal weight, based on lived experience of disability in the workplace. An important part of this is that grades are left at the door.

What has been the most significant change in your network this year?

Times have changed a lot since the CSDN was formed – legislation, technology, social attitudes and the look and feel of the workplace too. The growth of social media has led to the CSDN creating its own Twitter account – @CSDisabilityNet – which allows us to link up with other networks and civil servants. So CSDN’s challenge is to still be relevant, to still challenge when needed but also to provide support to the civil service in ensuring that it’s inclusive of everyone. We must also find a way to both work with the disability-specific sub-networks that would benefit all parties but ensure that we are also still relevant to departmental networks across the civil service.

The network was formed on the basis that all contributions are of equal weight, based on lived experience of disability in the workplace.

What will be the biggest challenge of 2020 – and how are you preparing to meet it?

The greatest challenge for us is to continue to work towards making the network accessible for all our members. Equally, we need to evolve as a network by challenging ourselves to see how we can best serve our membership. We also need to continue to challenge departments to ensure that staff with disabilities have a barrier-free workplace.

Tell us a favourite festive memory from your youth...

Darren: On Christmas Day when I was eight, I was called down to Christmas lunch. I ran downstairs and sat in what I thought was my usual seat and drank the glass of water next to the plate. Unfortunately, what I didn’t know was that it was the wrong chair and it wasn’t water but white wine.

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