When was the last time you went to a health conference and heard from a hospital receptionist? We recently held Unheard in Healthcare, a live storytelling event where we heard the real stories collected in notebooks we left across the country. It was incredibly powerful to hear the stories of those who are often unheard: from a hospital receptionist, a carer, a patient. These are the people who make up the health sector, but so rarely do we create real space to hear their voices.
"Many of the people determining policy in healthcare have relatively little experience of delivering care and running the organisations that turn policy into practice," wrote Helen Buckingham of the Nuffield Trust earlier this year.
We know that there are many ways that policymaking and the health sector builds and reinforces barriers to the decision-making tables.
Barriers to inclusion exist across the career ladder, but they are particularly strong on first rung. Working on the Health Foundation’s Young People’s Future Health Inquiry last year, it was clear that many young people are being systematically locked out of many career opportunities. Many entry level roles demand university degrees or unpaid work experience, meaning that these opportunities are inaccessible for those who didn't, or couldn’t, take this pathway when leaving school.
One path to policymaking that is well trodden by decision makers is undertaking unpaid work experience and internships. Looking particularly at those in policymaking, it probably comes as no surprise then that almost a third of staffers working for MPs and Peers had worked unpaid.
The option to work unpaid is only available to a limited group of people, and offering these unpaid internships has an effect on the demographic who can take these entry level roles. The Sutton Trust found that the ‘politics, government and third sector’ have 10% fewer working-class graduates working as interns than the average graduate population. And for internships in the ‘medical and health services’ there are 18% fewer working-class graduates than average.
The conversations like the ones at Unheard in Healthcare and our work on diversity in policymaking led us to have serious conversations about how at Kaleidoscope we could be doing more to encourage and support diversity within our organisation and the sector as a whole. So we want to put our money where our mouth is; practice what we preach; walk the walk and not just talk the talk (other cliches are available)...
"We don’t want this to be an internship for 'early career starters' where you also need a Master's degree, three years' work experience and a knighthood to apply."
We’re very excited to be launching The Perspectives Programme, a nine month internship placement for people at the start of their career in the health world.
This programme is designed to discover new and creative ways to hear unheard voices in the context of health and care. We’re looking for two interns to join the team.
We don’t want interns to be glorified tea makers or expert photocopiers (although this is probably a key part of all of our roles). Our internship is about making a real difference so, alongside supporting client delivery, interns will themselves be supported to design and lead on a project to improve the way unheard voices are heard in healthcare.
We don’t want this to be an internship advertised for ‘early career starters’ where you also need a Master's degree, three years' work experience and a knighthood to apply. Because to be honest, in most cases it’s probably not necessary. We’re not interested in what university you went to, or if you went at all, for that matter. The programme is open to all, no matter their background or experience. What we're looking for is someone with a passion for improving health and care, who wants to promote unheard voices and celebrate diversity.
That’s why for the first round of recruitment we’re skipping the boring stuff, and just want to know about the project that candidates think we should invest in.
We’re asking candidates to reflect on their experience or that of their family or friends, and pitch us a project that promotes a way in which health and healthcare can hear from unheard voices. The project should take approximately one day per week over nine months to deliver.
We’ve done lots of different and wonderful stuff so anything is possible (well, almost!) as long as it addresses the way unheard voices are heard in health care.
We’re proud of what we’re doing at Kaleidoscope, and we want to share this with as many people as possible. This might not be the answer to policymaking and the health sector’s diversity problems, but we are an organisation that puts our words into action. We know that diversity of thought and experience is incredibly important to all organisations to foster innovation and creativity. And if we want to continue to grow as an organisation that produces fresh and creative ideas, we need to support a variety of voices and perspectives to be a part of Kaleidoscope.