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January 19, 2022

January 2022 Spark Newsletter

It is possibly a bit late to still be saying this but Happy New Year!

We hope you had a restful and restorative break whatever the holidays mean to you. The new year didn’t quite go to plan for me (Nick) as I came down with Covid for 10 days but I am fortunately a lot better now. Through the experience of having Covid I have certainly gained a deeper understanding of what my partner, who has ME/Chronic Fatigue, goes through with brain fog and just how challenging it can make even simply things.


New Senior Disability Champions and Spark Network aims for 2022

You may or may not be aware that two new Senior Disability Champions have been appointed – Joe Rennie and Kevin Kerrigan. As a network we are really pleased with these appointments as we have worked with both Joe and Kevin in the past and know them to be good allies. Joe and Kevin will now lead the Disability Steering Group and the Spark Committee will be working with them to promote our agenda.

With new engaged senior champions and the start of a new calendar year we are looking to set out our aims for the network in 2022. If you have any thoughts or ideas on what the network should focus its efforts on in the next 12 months please email with your ideas. This could be something small, something related to awareness raising or something systematic about the way the university supports disabled staff.


The second virtual “Disabili-tea” room has now been scheduled (12-1pm, 23rd February)

If you need a place to let your guard down a little bit and chat to other disabled staff about how you are really doing this is the place!

Following the success of the first session we are going to offer Disabili-tea sessions every four to six weeks. These virtual catch ups are a safe space to chat with other disabled staff about absolutely anything from how work is going to things going on in your home life or the wider world.

The next Disabili-tea Room is going to 12-1pm on Wednesday 23rd February on MS Teams. Please email to request an invite to the session. If you are a Spark member you should have received a calendar invite attached the email version of the newsletter.


Rights at work event

At the end of November, the Spark network, along with the other staff networks, hosted a series of events around Rights at Work, this included what an employee’s rights are in law, what this means in practice at Hallam for both academic and professional services staff, how you can support the rights of your colleagues and what to do if you think yours or anyone else’s rights aren’t being respected.

If you missed the event then the recordings can be viewed on the Rights At Work page. This page also includes some articles about flexible working and links to useful resources including Hallam policies and Unison guidance.  You can provide feedback on the event through our feedback form. We can then use this feedback for planning future events.


Vision impairment awareness

As we mentioned in our last newsletter it was World Braille Day on 4th January. We have not had the opportunity to develop any resources but we did want to take this opportunity to share a link to the Pocklington Trust’s website.

The Trust provide information and support for anyone who is blind or partially sighted but we wanted to draw particular attention to their excellent support for students which covers a wide range of topics to support students whilst they are studying.


Call for new committee members

The network is in need of more committee members in order to help sustain and continue to grow the work we can do. Please email Spark at if you might be interested in joining the committee. We will invite you to the next committee meeting so you can get a feel for what is involved and there is absolutely no pressure if you decide it is not right for you.


Best wishes,

 Nick and the Spark! Network Committee.