DAWN (Disability and Wellbeing Network)

DAWN logo The acronym DAWN stands for Disability and Wellbeing Network. 


This network aims to bring together members of UHP who have a disability- including but not limited to physical disabilities, learning disabilities, mental health conditions, long-term conditions (including musculoskeletal conditions, cancer and HIV), learning difficulties (such as dyslexia and dyspraxia, visual, auditory, speech and sensory impairments) and hidden disabilities (including autism) to help employees reach their full potential. This network will provide an open forum for our disabled colleagues to share their experience of the workplace in a supportive and safe environment. The network will provide a ‘listening ear’ for our disabled colleagues as well as seeking their views to help shape our inclusion agenda and enable us to focus our efforts on actions that will make the biggest and most positive difference.

This network is a safe space to discuss improvements and adjustments whilst feeling comfortable doing so.

Disability confident employer logo


When is the next Disability and Wellbeing Network? 

To be confirmed

The MS Teams invite will be sent out to the DAWN Network members each month. Please complete the sign up form to join the network here.


Network Champion

Steven Keith "Giving people a voice is incredibly important to me not just because of my role as Director of People but because I recognise how important this is to create an environment where we all feel included.  We have several ways of ensuring that we hear from people such as our pulse surveys along with the annual national Staff Survey. Our information tells us that colleagues with a disability have a lesser experience of the workplace than non-disabled colleagues.  We also know that colleagues and applicants do not always feel able to share that they have a disability which concerns me. Some of the anecdotal feedback I have heard is that people are sometimes worried that it will have a negative impact on them or their career, and people may see or treat them differently.  Not all disabilities are visible such as our mental health and I believe every tiny bit of understanding makes a huge difference and helps to break down the stigma. This is why I think the network is so important to help us  to influence how we think  and act and how we value everyone’s contribution as one big team. "

Steven Keith, Director of People.


Network Member

Amanda Holland "I am profoundly Deaf, I can give a Deaf person’s perspective view/approach to all sorts of settings and act as a role player if anyone needed to practise to communicate with Deaf patients.  I have some experience of working with people with different disabilities (wheelchair user, mental health problems, etc.) in one of my previous employments and previously worked as an Advocate for Deaf service-users for 6 years.  I personally have faced some barriers with communication issues and know how to communicate effectively with different methods of communication tools.  One time I taught Level one in British Sign Language and gave informal Deaf awareness information to anyone who asked me some questions about Deafness."

- Amanda Holland


Network Chairs

Jane-Marie and Frank having a chatHello, my name is Frank O'Friel and I am currently the Care Group Manager for Women’s and Children’s Services at UHPT .

I have a long term condition, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), which has only recently been diagnosed but is something I have lived with my whole life. It is a genetic condition so understanding it has been a revelation for my extended family.

Most of my NHS career has been working in the area of mental health, disability and long term conditions developing and leading teams in London, Devon and for the last two years in Plymouth.  

I have worked in different serviced during my career, including adult and paediatric audiological medicine teams, managing CAMHS services, supporting adult mental health, substance misuse and older peoples mental health teams, and managing multi agency support for children with physical, learning and sensory disabilities and their families.

As a manager my ethos has always been to focus on my team members strengths, and ensure team working can minimise the things that people will struggle with. Being naturally curious about difference and diversity really helps to achieve this as it helps us understand better the people we are working with.

Outside of the hospital, I play in a County, Folk and Celtic band, playing the accordion, guitar and sing (not all at the same time!) which helps keep me sane.

Frank O'Friel, DAWN Network Chair


Hello, my name is Jane-Marie or just ‘Jane’ will do fine. I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to Co-Chair the new Disability and Wellbeing Network, abbreviated to DAWN, with Sarah. I work within UHP as a midwife and along the way have struggled with new diagnosis’s that has led me to have an invested interest in the development of the network.

Many people with long term health conditions do not declare themselves as disabled for many reasons. I was one of those people not so long ago until I realised, that I actually needed support to be put in place to enable me to perform my duties without being at a disadvantage. The only alternative to me not declaring my difficulties was being off sick numerous times or having to leave a career that I love. We are all unique individuals and all have skills we can give to UHP with the correct support in place. In the current situation with COVID, it is now more important than ever that we are able to provide support to our colleagues, make them feel valued and retain our staff.

The network is a positive step for our voice to be heard and together we can initiate change within UHP to improve work/life balance for staff suffering with various disabilities. I would love more staff to join us as members as we embark on this journey to improve policies, education and awareness surrounding disability and wellbeing within UHP. It is also an inclusive network so if you do not have a disability but have ideas of how we can improve the workplace for our disabled colleagues you can also join in.

Jane-Marie Harvey, DAWN Network Deputy Chair


Useful Resources

Understanding Disability Understanding disability infographic | NHS Employers

Supporting our disabled colleagues in the workplace Supporting disabled staff in the workplace | NHS Employers

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