#HereForDerby Ann Webster

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary people, and here at Team Derby we’re overflowing with them!

From our key worker colleagues going over and above to help the most vulnerable in our city, to those taking on new roles to keep essential services running – and everything in between. There are so many shining examples of truly excellent work.

These people are the focus of our #HereForDerby campaign.

This week, as part of our #HereForDerby series we talked to Ann Webster about her role as the Council’s Lead on Equality and Diversity during what has been a worrying and challenging time for disabled people.

Ann says “My job is to help, encourage and support our leadership and colleagues to get equality, diversity and inclusion right in all the work we do, in services with our customers and in employment with our colleagues and job applicants -it’s a very wide remit and I get involved in all sorts of interesting projects.”

Ann has been working for the Council on equality and diversity for 31 years and has had many moments of pride in what she has achieved in that time, such as, helping the Council achieve Excellent in the Local Government Equality Framework, being part of the team who made sure that Derby was one of the first cities to have all our hackney carriages wheelchair accessible, (which involved an appearance in court!), raising the rainbow flag for the first time and our show racism the red card days (pictured below).

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic Ann says she has been busier than ever.

“We made sure all our communications about COVID-19 are accessible for Deaf people with our BSL videos and also our community languages videos as well.  I’ve also been involved in making sure that our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues are getting offered risk assessments following the disproportionate impact Covid 19 has had on our BAME communities.

“As we come out of lockdown I’ve been checking and advising on the many equality impact assessments that we are completing, attending Skype meetings about unlocking the lockdown and opening the High Street.  I’ve been so frustrated at times seeing places where access for disabled people has been forgotten when social distancing measures have been put in place, for example blue badge bays being blocked off. I have contacted the Government about this as it’s widespread and not just affecting Derby’s disabled people.”

Ann has also been heavily involved in the Council response to the #blacklivesmatter movement following the horrendous murder of George Floyd and will be working with our Race Equality Hub and our Black and Asian Minority Ethnic Employees Support Network to look at ways that we can make changes to further race equality in Derby.

Ann says she has found the lockdown and working from home a challenge. “To start with I was really scared and felt like I was on a knife edge all the time. Disabled people like me have faced some huge challenges during this pandemic, things like not being able to get on-line shopping slots etc. Working from home can be very lonely, so I really enjoy Skype meetings and phone calls. I do miss my work colleagues and the community members we work with and like many others, I am longing to hug my grandchildren.  We’ve just had a new granddaughter so I hope that first hug can come soon!”

Finally, Ann says “Derby has shown such a strong community spirit and the caring and love shining through is unbelievable, so thank you everyone. It’s times like this that we really value our neighbours and communities and I’m so proud to call Derby my home but we must also remember the Derby people who have tragically died from this dreadful virus and my heart goes out to all their families and friends.”