Posted by: ayrshirehealth | January 8, 2014

How ‘inclusive’ are you? by @maidenturret

Moving from exclusion to inclusion

I was lucky enough to hear the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Harry Burns present on the relationship between health, stress and coping on three occasions last year. One of the key ‘take home’ messages for me was the important role public services have to play in facilitating the socially excluded to feel included. Inclusion The negative impact of a lack of hope, poor life experiences and chronic stress on individual wellbeing is extreme.

There is irony in the fact that our public sector institutions often exclude people who are in the greatest need of support e.g. the misbehaving child excluded from school or the mentally ill patient ‘struck off’ a GP practice list for being too demanding.  This type of action compounds an often impossible situation for individuals.


I believe public sector institutions have a social responsibility to be ‘inclusive’. Within NHS Ayrshire and Arran, a commitment to developing volunteering opportunities is demonstrating progress towards the ‘inclusive’ aspiration. There have been real efforts in recent years to encourage volunteers from across the diverse communities we serve, given the historical trend of attracting mainly white middle class retired professionals.  screen-capture-2

One of the volunteering programmes has attracted a range of people (including the young unemployed – 13% unemployment amongst 18-25 year olds in North/East Ayrshire compared to national average 8%). For many of these volunteers the experience has been a stepping stone to further education or employment.

It has been truly inspirational to hear the impact of their volunteering experience.

“Being back working with people … made me feel so welcome”

“Best thing I ever did. It was tremendous and made me feel so much better”

“Felt so good about myself, I’m more confident and my GP was also over the moon”

Personal commitment

However, there have been a small minority of volunteers who have had a more negative experience. This has been mainly down to them not feeling part of the team (after all they are giving freely of their time) and staff not understanding the importance of supporting the volunteer in their role.  This demonstrates the need for all staff to reflect on their individual responsibility to support volunteering and the organisational aspiration of ‘inclusion’.

I am personally committed to widening volunteering opportunities further. As the largest employer in Ayrshire, we have the capacity to overcome any cultural barriers to support our aspirations and realise the huge benefits of a volunteering presence in every NHS Ayrshire and Arran Service.

I am usually not very good at keeping my New Year’s resolutions. However, my only resolution for this year is to be ‘inclusive’ and I think this will be one resolution I will keep!


Picture of the next cohort taking part in the Ward Volunteering Programme, used with permission.

This week’s blogger @maidenturret (Andrew Moore)  is an Assistant Nurse Director in NHS Ayrshire & Arran.  Comments on his blog are very welcome; additionally if you are interested in volunteering in any of the service of NHS Ayrshire & Arran please contact Andrew directly, who will be able to help (Tel: 01292 513621).


  1. […] hospitals has traditionally attracted white middle class retired professionals but Andrew wrote in How ‘inclusive’ are you? on the Ayrshirehealth blog about the benefits of being inclusive and his resolution to widen […]

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