Inclusive Winter Celebrations
It is coming to the time of year where we are starting to think about how we celebrate the various Winter or religious festivals. Whilst for most this can be an extremely enjoyable time of year full of parties and celebrations, for colleagues with disabilities whether hidden or visible, health conditions or caring responsibilities it can feel a time when they are forgotten or not considered. In many instances this is not deliberate but hopefully we can help you stop and think before you organise your celebrations.
When looking for a location for your winter celebration consider ways to make it more accessible. This can affect people with both hidden and visible disabilities. Would a wheelchair user be able to access the building? Are there places for someone with mobility challenges to sit down? Is there disabled parking either at or near the venue? Could someone with hearing difficulties take part in conversations? Whilst we know that you can’t always control the bars and restaurants that you may look at, there are plenty of accessible venues that you can choose from. Example: Some people with a hearing disability may find that it helps them to sit with their back against a wall.
We recommend that you ask if anybody has any requirements, don't assume. The best person to advise you is the person who has the disability.
If you need help looking for accessible venues, you can use AccessAble
Some venues may not be LGBT+ friendly, it’s helpful to ask LGBT+ colleagues if they would feel comfortable attending an event at the venue you are looking at.
Ask your team what they want to do and where they want to go. You won’t be able to please everyone but at least you will have an idea of what people do want and some considerations that you may not have thought of. Don’t forget to include new starters, temporary staff and any staff that are working off site.
It should go without saying but don’t forget to invite your disabled colleagues or colleagues who are not celebrating any festivals in the winter period. It’s possible, they may say ‘no’ but the actual act of being invited to an event can often mean just as much as actually going to the event and they may also be able to contribute to the choice of somewhere to celebrate.
3. Alcohol and Dietary Requirements
Whilst alcohol forms part of many celebrations there are people who prefer not to drink whether due to their religion, medication or just by choice. Be considerate of other people’s choices and ensure that there are options for soft drinks. This also supports anybody who needs to drive. Also, take into consideration any dietary requirements whether for health or religion.
If some people feel that they can’t attend your celebration, why not consider a get together in the office during the last week before shutdown. Encourage colleagues to bring in food or order in pizza and bring some soft drinks. It’s a good excuse for your team to socialise without any of the pressure.
Covid-19 has changed many people’s opinions about going out and socialising. Many people with health conditions or disabilities or those with caring responsibilities are still minimising contact with others and are working from home. If this is the case in your office why not organise an online social? Be creative – if you have funds available what about sending each of your team a gift box of things to help the celebration along. There are many companies who will do this at a reasonable price.
This time of year can also be difficult for some people. Loneliness can be heightened when all around us are celebrating. If you require support for your wellbeing please go to Staff wellbeing | StaffNet | The University of Manchester
7. Colleagues of Faiths or No Faith
We’d like to put your mind at rest about the traditional Christian connotations of Christmas along with wishing people a ‘Merry Christmas’. As long as you are respectful and mindful of those who may have no faith or are of a different faith then of course you can give somebody your best wishes and most people will accept them in the way they were intended.