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A Harry’s Pledge member is looking to install a Changing Places toilet in its head office to add to a range of other carer friendly changes it has made.

Eastlight Community Housing, which signed up to the Pledge about two years ago, wants to put the carer friendly toilet facilities into its head office in Braintree.

And Hugo Drummond, Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the organisation said this would top off an encouraging start to its work after becoming a Pledge member.

He said: “We’ve got a plan to make some changes to our bathrooms next year and retrofitting them on the ground floor, specifically ones that are more accessible to the public.

“We want to make it a Changing Places facility and have some signage up in the nearby shopping centre, so people know that if they’re caring for someone and taking them out then they’d have use of that facility.”

As well as plans for the Changing Places bathroom, Hugo said Eastlight had done lots of good work since signing up to the Pledge.

He said they’d brought CFED on board to offer independent financial advice to colleagues and ensured that policies were flexible and fair.

He added: “We’re a very flexible employer and Harry’s Pledge really resonated with how we work and the culture we’re trying to create. It just made a lot of sense for us to sign up.

“We’ve made lots of changes to the organisation in trying to support carers, but we see it as a journey and we’re not at the end of that journey yet.

“We wanted to be as flexible as possible with our policies and make them as carer friendly as we can.

“We have that flexible approach to working hours, so if people are having to pick up young people from school, or whatever it might be, that’s always something that we can accommodate.

“If someone has a relative or a loved one who lives in nearby who needs extra support, we’ve always been quite flexible with our people in terms of taking that time out during the day, if necessary, to make sure that person’s alright.

“We’ve also started to look at the kind of the decisions we make as an organisation, because it’s all well and good having care focused policies in place, but a lot of the time we can have that lens where we’re just looking internally at the organisation and how we support our people, but there is a wider aspect to this in terms of decisions we make as an organisation that affect our customers, the wider communities that we are trying to support.

“This led us down this path of looking at our Equality Impact Assessment process because we know that if we get a good EIA process in place and that training is done in the right, we can introduce care or caring responsibility in there as almost an additional protected characteristic.

“It’s about looking more broadly at the decisions we make as a housing association and trying to think about what else we can influence. What else can we do differently? How else can we keep evolving and making sure that we are taking carers into account?”

Hugo also said Eastlight has a mentoring programme in place called ‘Just being you’ where colleagues can sit down with a senior leader three times over a six-month period to talk about an issue that means a lot to them.

He added: “Colleagues have free, quite in-depth conversations with the senior leader.

“The conversations tend to really explore that person’s real deep personal association with that protected characteristic and it’s great for us as a housing association to build that space, have those conversations and look at changes we can make as a result.

“I’d also like to develop a networking group for carers. That’s something I’ll look to build moving forward.”

Finally, when asked if being a member of Harry’s Pledge had helped Eastlight make these changes, Hugo couldn’t agree more.

He said: “We shout about it on our website, so our customers know about it. We reinforce it through news posts on our social media and on our newsflash which all our employees see.

“We’re a very flexible organisation anyway, but having the Pledge there is beneficial because it allows us to look back onto something, to remind ourselves why this is important and what we’re trying to achieve.

“By signing up to pledges like Harry’s Pledge, it reinforces why this is important and it makes a link between what we’re trying to do internally as an organisation and what challenges society faces more broadly.

“I’d recommend any organisation to get involved with something like this because it’s only going to make your workplace and people understand more. It’s only going to help them connect to their customers in a more empathetic and genuine way, so there really is no downside.”

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To find out more about Eastlight Community Housing