Clare Balding

Broadcaster to host Mind Matters event stream at SPVS-VMG Congress

The broadcaster, commentator and author Clare Balding OBE will be chairing a series of Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) talks about diversity and inclusion, at next year’s Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) and Veterinary Management Group (VMG) Congress.

The event takes place at the Celtic Manor Resort near Newport in South Wales on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 January 2020 with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative’s Wellbeing in Practice stream taking place throughout the Friday.

Clare (pictured), who will also be delivering the keynote address for the Congress, will be chairing the two morning sessions, which look at the experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in the veterinary workplace, and wider inclusion and equality issues respectively.

The first talk, entitled LGBT+ in Practice, will be delivered by Dr Dan Makin, President of the British Veterinary LGBT+ Group, at 10.40am. In this, he will share stories of discrimination against LGBT+ people in the veterinary professions that have led to poor mental health, as well as positive stories around those practices which get it right. He will make the business, recruitment and legal case for introducing policies for practice teams, to help educate, inform, and instil a sense of belonging and will describe what those might look like.

The second MMI session, at 11.40am, is a panel discussion titled Inclusion and Equality in the Workplace, which will look at the importance of a diverse team in terms of overall wellbeing and performance and how feelings of exclusion, and otherness can lead to poor mental health and wellbeing. The panel will discuss how good policies around equality and inclusion, can reap the benefits of a happy, healthy and diverse team. The panel will include Dan Makin, Partheeban Navaratnam, co-founder of the British Veterinary Ethnicity and Diversity Society, Ebony Escalona, founder of Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify and Penny Barker, from the Veterinary Defence Society (VDS). 

For the two afternoon MMI sessions, chairing duties will be taken on by SPVS Board Member Liz Barton who will look at how effective leadership and a positive working environment benefits wellbeing.

The first of the afternoon talks, starting at 1.30pm, is titled ‘Being the leader you and your team need’ and will be delivered by Caroline Pearson from Progressive Vet Consulting, along with some of the winners of the joint SPVS and Mind Matters Initiative’s Veterinary Wellbeing Award who are being announced at the opening ceremony of the SPVS-VMG Congress. They will discuss current leadership thinking and challenge delegates to ask questions about the type of leader they think they are, how upbringing and past experience may have influenced this, and how to become the leader a team needs.

The final talk of the Mind Matters stream is titled ‘Civility in Practice’ and will be delivered by Dan Tipney from training consultancy VetLed, in which he will talk about challenging people who display problematic behaviours in the workplace. He will share evidence from within the NHS and campaigns such as ‘Civility Saves Lives’ and consider how best to apply this learning to the veterinary profession. He will make a strong case for linking wellbeing with both animal safety and quality improvement.

The full programme for the Congress, including the Mind Matters stream, can be found on the SPVS-VMG 2020 Congress website.