Diversity, equality and inclusion
We are committed to ensuring equality, diversity and inclusion run through all aspects of our work. Inclusion is at the heart of what we do and central to our purpose. First Story was founded to address the inequality of access for young people from low-income backgrounds to rich creative learning experiences. We know that young people in under-resourced and underserved communities are far less likely to experience the conditions where they have a proper chance to express themselves; the education system does not fully support them, nor they do not have fair access to creative careers.
We believe that an inclusive diversity of voices makes for a rich and creative society. People have very different lived experiences and identities, but we value them equally. We believe that diversity and inclusion are crucial for a successful and vibrant society: cutting people out is a loss for everyone and for the future.
Our commitment to diversity and inclusion
Everyone has a unique voice, and we commit to creating the conditions for our young writers to be heard in public. Treating people with respect is at the core of what we do; we will ensure that it is easy for all our stakeholders to share their opinions with us in their own voice – and to be confident that we will listen and adapt where necessary.
We think it is essential that individual needs are understood and respected. To do this, we commit to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment in our workshops and events, in our office and online.
We also recognise and respect our legal responsibility not to discriminate unlawfully against protected characteristics outlined in the Equality Act 2010, which consist of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origin), religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
We actively want to ensure that people experiencing disadvantage because of their socio-economic background, educational background or income status are not discriminated against and have equality of access. Together, the people who make up First Story – whether participants, staff, trustees and volunteers – reflect those very varied characteristics and will ensure that everyone feels they belong.
A reflective and learning organisation
We understand that our world is complex, and that there are different and often developing understandings of diversity and inclusion, appropriate language, and ways of defining marginal communities. We commit to consulting all our stakeholders, listening to their feelings and opinions, learning from evidence, and reflecting on what we do. We will adapt or change when we need to do so.
We know as an organisation – or as individuals – that sometimes we will get things wrong or make honest mistakes. We know that learning from mistakes or things that did not work out is the best way to improve. This policy is underpinned by an organisation-wide equality action plan. Progress against that is monitored and reported regularly to trustees and staff.
And if there are any suggestions that you would like to share with us on how we can improve our diversity and inclusivity, we would be glad to hear from you.
We commit to these principles
For our students
- Our programmes are free to participants and their families. We fundraise to cover the costs.
- All students are able to take part in the wider First Story offer: there is no discrimination for progression routes, platforming work, competition success or any other opportunity.
- All students feel included and have the chance to get the most out of our programmes.
- All students feel safe and respected.
- Students define themselves, write in their own voice, speak in their own language, and review and edit their own work.
- Their personal experience is recognised as interesting and of value.
- We will provide access to adults and writer role models and authors that come from culturally diverse communities and may be more representative of our students’ own backgrounds.
- Our programme provides access to a rich variety of literature, including diverse forms and genres – e.g. whether poetry or prose, oral or written, contemporary or historical.
- Young people are at the heart of First Story: we provide opportunities for robust feedback and are committed to involving our young writers in the future development of the programme and the charity.
For our writers
- We aim to work with a broad pool of writers representing the diversity of the communities we work with and the wide-ranging diversity of society more generally – such as writers who work in different forms and are from different heritages, and who use different regional and vernacular language, and writers who are open to the experience of our students, aspirational for them and respectful of their own voices and identities.
- All writers exhibit and encourage inclusive behaviour.
- We provide training for our writers to equip them to work effectively with diverse communities and to understand their needs.
- Our writers, and the First Story resources, draw on a diverse range of authors/writing as inspiration for creative writing.
For our staff, trustees and volunteers
- We recognise that a diverse and inclusive team where everyone can contribute to their full ability and potential is a stronger and more effective team.
- We will regularly monitor all our personnel (staff, trustees and volunteers) and seek to improve access or representation where it is lacking.
- We aim for each member of our personnel to feel respected and able to give their best.
- We will support different learning and working styles/needs, and our communications will aim to ensure that our personnel feel supported, empowered to contribute ideas and able to raise concerns.
For our partners
- We work with partners whose mission and values align with ours.
- We will regularly review partner relationships to ensure that the collaboration is consistent with this statement and our equality action plan.
- Our relationship with our partners should be based on mutual benefit and the benefit of our beneficiaries.
- We commit to understanding our partners’ needs and ways of working.
Evaluation and data
We commit to monitoring how well we are doing and gathering data and evidence to inform what we do.
- We will seek the views of our stakeholders to inform our development, to ensure that they have felt included, and that their needs have been met, and to measure our success and progress.
- We collect and monitor data on protected characteristics (complying with data-protection and privacy requirements) relating to our participants, staff, trustees and volunteers.
- Our diversity and inclusion task group will monitor progress on our equality action plan and report to the board annually.
Last updated: Jan. 2022