Carys is working as an Equality and Diversity Officer

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Carys Jenkins is an MA Working with Children and Young People graduate, who is now working as an Equality and Diversity Officer for the Rhondda Cynon Taff, County Borough Council.

The Equality Act is central to my role of Equality and Diversity Officer for the council. It covers the nine protected characteristics (age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and marriage or civil partnership). It’s my job to cover in-house equality, ensuring that people aren’t discriminated against. I also work with external networks, contributing to events that raise awareness of equality and diversity.

The events my team attend, promote how we, as society, can make a positive change. I recently got involved in a Holocaust Memorial, at a local library. 120 members of the community and six form pupils, studying history, attended. I ran a workshop for the schools, that included an activity designed to get them thinking about stereotyping. The workshop linked the holocaust memorial to modern day hate crime, which went down well in changing the students’ mind-set.

Supporting LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) is something I’m passionate about. In work, we’re positioned 88th in Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers 2018 – a massive achievement for a small team. Stonewalls partner with organisations to achieve Equality in the workplace for LGBT. For LGBT History month, our team’s organised coffee mornings for the council and we’re coordinating an Allies and Icons exhibition at Pride Cymru. Longer term, I’m working with a councillor to set up an LGBT group in the Rhondda.

The MA Working with Children and Young People was challenging. The area of study was new to me and I worked full-time alongside my studies. Thankfully my tutors were inspiring and kept me motivated throughout. The female lecturers were incredible role models. They work full time at the University, are active youth workers and juggle their personal lives with all of this. Even though they have so much going on, they still go above and beyond to support you, every step of the way.

Through the course, I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya with Moving Mountains. During the two-week trip we lived in an orphanage. We learnt about how services in the area operate (such as hospitals and social services). We visited local villages and met street children. I never would have had the chance to do this if I wasn’t studying the course. Not only did it provide me with a cultural awareness, I also developed friendships that are really strong, even today. It truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The confidence, experience and knowledge I’ve gained through studying the MA has been incredible. I’m now fortunate to be working in an area where my passion lies, breaking down barriers, through the work I do. On the course I envisaged myself working solely with young people, primarily within discriminatory groups. What I’ve learnt through experience, is that even though I still have a passion for supporting young people, the equality issues I care about are wider.