Imperial College London: Calibre graduation celebrates staff success 

Sixteen participants have completed Imperial’s talent development programme, Calibre.

The 12-week course is for staff who identify as neurodiverse or disabled, or who have a long term physical or mental health condition. Running for 11 years, the programme consists of a series of workshops and one-to-one sessions.

Calibre uses the social model of disability and encourages staff to see disability as a distinctive strength.

To mark their graduation, the participants shared presentations with their ideas of how the College could be made more accessible for disabled people.

Hear from some of this year’s participants.

Ffion Lindsay, Digital Marketing Officer, Academic Services
“I have herniated discs in my spine, which can affect my mobility and pain levels, and I am also neurodivergent. I’d never joined a programme like Calibre before now, as I’d only recently started to get to grips with these conditions and regard myself as someone with a disability.

“Taking part in Calibre has transformed the way I view myself and my disability in relation to my work. Before, I was very apologetic and hesitant when asking for accommodations and speaking up as a disabled person in the workplace.

“The programme has taught me that I am not the problem – societal and institutional barriers are. And that I can use my unique experiences and insight as a disabled person to influence others to make positive changes.

The programme has taught me that I am not the problem – societal and institutional barriers are
Ffion Lindsay
Digital Marketing Officer, Academic Services
“Ossie, our course leader, is an incredible advocate for disabled people. From the beginning, he has had absolute faith in our ability to become leaders and make a real difference in our respective departments and communities.

“I’ve enjoyed having a space to talk honestly with others about our experiences around disability, and I now have a network of support around me.”

Agni Lahiri, Simulation Technician, Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science, Department of Surgery and Cancer
Man smiling“I’ve worked at the College for four years, but I’m quite new to my own disability even though I’ve had it all my life. It was not until the pandemic that I had time to sit down, be alone with my own thoughts and notice that maybe there was something not quite right. Through a video on Tik Tok, I discovered that what I thought were personality traits were symptoms of ADHD. For example, I didn’t become productive until evenings.

“One day I saw the Calibre course on an email from the College and the programme looked very inclusive. Having now taken the course, I’ve learnt so much. My own disability has been invisible to me and now I’m understanding it more and more. Not speaking

Not speaking about my difficulties had become a coping mechanism
Agni Lahiri
Simulation Engineer, Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science, Department of Surgery and Cancer
about my difficulties had become a coping mechanism, but the course has taught me we should take account of adjustments needed in how we work and how we interact with others.

“Since the very first Calibre session, I’ve discovered so many new ideas that I didn’t know existed, so now it’s all about implementing them.”

Empowering Imperial’s disabled community
Calibre is delivered by Dr Ossie Stuart, an international disability consultant and academic, in partnership with Imperial’s?Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Centre.

The course aims to builds on 21st-century thinking of disability leadership to ensure we see more disabled leaders in a variety of positions within the workplace.

Congratulating this year’s participants, Professor Stephen Curry, Assistant Provost for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion said: “It is important that we all work together to create a culture where disabled staff feel comfortable to ask for adjustments and empowered to advocate for their needs. I am delighted to hear from this year’s graduates just how much insight and confidence they have gained from the Calibre programme.

“This year’s participants have demonstrated how we can continue to create a better environment. They’ve given us many ideas on how we can remove barriers for our disabled community.”