Inclusive End of Year Celebrations
It's that time of year where we think about how we celebrate and mark the end of another year.
This can be an extremely enjoyable time of year full of celebrations but for colleagues with disability, health conditions or caring responsibilities it can be a time when they are not always considered. Hopefully the tips below can help in planning your end of year get-togethers:
When looking for a location for your event, consider accessibility. Would a wheelchair user be able to access the venue? Are there places for someone with mobility challenges to sit down? Would prams be able to navigate the entry? Is there accessible parking or transport either at or near the venue? What's the lighting situation and the music level?
- Does the location have any historical significance to certain groups of people that might make them feel unwelcome? (this could include spaces on campus named after certain historical individuals)
- Venues such as bars, licenced premises or pubs could exclude participants whose cultural beliefs make it uncomfortable for them to attend
- Are quiet spaces available nearby? i.e. prayer facilities, parents/nursing room
We know that you can’t always control the environment in but it's worth checking venues out before you book.
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 through. Don’t forget to include new and temporary staff and any staff that are working off site. Also consider the time of your event - some staff have school pick ups and other responsibilities, so consider the commitments within your team when planning events.
It should go without saying but don’t forget to invite your colleagues who are not celebrating any festivals in the summer holiday period. It’s possible, they may say ‘no’ but 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 where you all gather.
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, culture, health or just by choice. Be considerate of other people’s choices and ensure that there are non-alcoholic drink options. This also supports anybody who needs to drive. Also, take into consideration any food allergies or dietary requirements when organising the catering and venue.
If some people feel that they can’t attend your celebration, why not consider a get together on campus during the last week before shutdown. 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. Before engaging in physical forms of greetings such as a handshake or hug, it’s best to either ask how your colleague prefers to be greeted or wait to see how they extend the greeting. Many people are minimising contact with others and are working from home. If this is the case in your office you could organise an online event. Be creative – Priya Parker's The Gathering Toolkit has some great ideas. There is also a free guide on how to build connection when planning virtual events.
This time of year can also be difficult for some people. Loneliness can be heightened when all around us people are celebrating. If you require support for your wellbeing, you can contact the Employee Assistance Program - it's a free and confidential service that provides short- and long-term health and wellbeing support to all staff. You can call direct on 1800 808 374 or contact them via the App.
If you have further ideas to include here please contact the MDHS Diversity and Inclusion team