“I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you
Laughing in the purple rain”
In many ways, these words from the late, great Prince encapsulate the attitude of many managers and many organisations to the topic of disability. They genuinely do not want to cause pain or sorrow – and they are desperate to make staff with a disability (and indeed all staff that they employ) happier and more comfortable at work. Unfortunately – very often – the cultures, buildings, policies and practices of those organisations only serve to do the opposite – and to make working life more – and not less – difficult and uncomfortable for those staff – and disabled staff in particular.
I chose to use these lyrics as the inspiration this blog because purple has now generally been accepted in many quarters as the symbolic representation of disability. Disability isn’t funny – and certainly isn’t a laughing matter – but we can (and often do) use comedy, humour and other unconventional methods as a way to discuss the more serious sides of these issues.
So it is on 3 December 2018 – the International Day of People With Disabilities – that sees #PurpleLightUp a movement created by organisation PurpleSpace – encouraging employers to light up their building and focus on the colour purple as a way of highlighting the issue of disability and showing their support for improving the experiences of disabled staff and disabled customers and service users.
Kate Nash OBE, CEO of PurpleSpace, conceived #PurpleLightUp as way to create international unity among disabled people and to celebrate the talents and economic contributions made by the people with disabilities around the globe. Kate said: “In only its second year, #PurpleLightUp has captured the imagination of employees with disabilities and the organisations they work for, the world over".
As the largest employer of staff in Europe and one of the largest employers in the world (employing almost 1.4 million staff) the NHS is well aware of its duty to promote and raise awareness of disability inclusion and I know that the support of the NHS in a campaign like #PurpleLightUp will have great significance.
We all know that the NHS gets a disproportionate amount of press and media coverage – but often for all the wrong reasons. So we want to turn this to our advantage and encourage NHS organisations across England and the wider UK to embrace the #PurpleLightUp campaign and go purple! Purple lights, purple banners, purple food! We don’t care what it is – be creative, be inclusive and be different! But make a statement!
One of Prince’s many guises was when he created a band called “The Revolution”. Let’s see if we can create our own purple revolution on 3 December. Get your organisation to light up purple and see if you can make your workplace a better place for everyone – but particularly your staff with disabilities.
This is a guest blog from Paul Deemer – Head of Diversity and Inclusion at NHS Employers who is an Ambassador for our #PurpleLightUp
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