A number of focus groups were carried out in additional to one to one interviews. The aim of the focus groups and interviews were to:
- Understand why younger people affected with MS (ideally aged 18-30 but up to 40), people of colour with MS and people with advanced MS are underrepresented amongst their supporters and particularly their volunteers;
- discovering more about the challenges these audiences face currently in their MS journeys;
- addressing the issues that prevent these wider groups of people from engaging with the MS Society, particularly through volunteering, as well as other supporter actions;
- appealing to people not living with MS and understanding how the volunteering offer can be attractive for younger people and
people of colour.
Following the focus groups and interviews and research carried out. Diverse Matters provided MS Society with recommendations to enhance practice. We also supported the organisation with review of their EDI action plan and board training and support.
Outcome and feedback - testimonial from Antonia White
The Diverse Matters Team interviewed people in a mix of focus groups and 121s, provided a thorough report, and then helped us communicate this across the organisation. As news of our work with Diverse Matters spread, other teams have also worked or are planning to work with Tash – for example, with EDI training.
From the start, Tash was enthusiastic, professional, accommodating and flexible – which is just what you need when the programme landscape is ever changing with emerging needs. What really stood out for me though is her no-nonsense, common sense approach and her ability to provide reassurance and support. To understand EDI, organisations need to do some real soul-searching and be prepared to have uncomfortable conversations. At times, that felt very difficult – we were all conscious of language, our tone of voice, micro-aggressions – and Tash was there to tell us that we can only ever be honest and that this goes a long way. It was refreshing and helped pull us out of ‘analysis paralysis’ back to the key issue – we just needed to get going and make improvements!
Huge shout-out also to Hanan and Paul for providing meticulous research insights and project management, and overall being caring and conscientious colleagues.
We really felt the benefit of working with Diverse Matters and I’d recommend them to any organisation in a heartbeat.