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Disability Confident and Disability Inclusion


St Mary’s is committed to being an inclusive place to work and study for staff and students with disabilities.

This commitment is embedded in our equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) agenda as is outlined in our People Strategy, and is underpinned by our mission and purpose as an inclusive Catholic university.

To help guide our efforts to live out our core values of Inclusiveness and Respect for our community members with disabilities, we have joined the Disability Confident scheme as an employer who is Disability Confident Committed. The commitments we have signed up to as part of this scheme are as follows:

  • inclusive and accessible recruitment
  • communicating vacancies
  • offering an interview to disabled people
  • providing reasonable adjustments
  • supporting existing employees.

Our work as an employer who is Disability Confident Committed is supported by collaboration and consultation with our Disability Staff Network and Disabled Students Network, as we work to centre lived experience in our efforts to create a more inclusive campus environment.

Hidden disabilities

Another core initiative in fostering an inclusive culture for St Mary’s disabled staff and students is our participation in the Sunflower Scheme. Launched by our Disability Staff Network, SMSU, Widening Participation, and Student Services, the scheme allows staff and students with hidden disabilities to discreetly indicate to people around them that they might need additional support, help, or a little more time.

Staff and students are able to pick up a sunflower lanyard, bracelet, or badge from student services, registry, the student's union, HR  and main reception. Staff and students who would like to find out more information about the Sunflower Scheme at St Mary’s may do so by accessing our Sunflower Scheme Moodle page.

Hidden disability information

Aside from our commitments and initiatives seeking to create a more inclusive environment for students and staff with disabilities, we also provide several support services to ensure the wellbeing of all community members with disabilities.

Support for Staff

We have several options for staff members with disabilities who are seeking advice and support, one of which is applying to Access to Work. Staff seeking wellbeing support are encouraged to reach out to one of our trained St Mary’s Mental Health First Aiders or our 24/7 Employee Assistance Programme. Both of these services are confidential and available to all St Mary’s staff.

For more information on the ways we can provide support, visit our Support for Staff Who Have Disabilities page.

For line managers looking for guidance as to how best support employees who have disabilities, visit our Guidance for Managers on Supporting Staff with Disabilities page.

Support for Students

Our Student Wellbeing Service offers confidential advice and support to students who have support requirements as a result of a recognised disability, mental health condition, specific learning difference (such as dyslexia, ADHD, and dyspraxia), medical condition(s) or a temporary disability, such as injury.

We have over 900 students registered with our service at St Mary's University so you won't be the only one! You can self-refer for disability and dyslexia support from a phone or computer.

For more information on the ways we can provide support, or how we provide that support, visit our Disability and Dyslexia Support page.

Employability Services, through the Careers Service and Centre for Workplace Learning, also offers support and careers advice for students with disabilities, a long-term health condition or a specific learning difference.

If your programme has the option to undertake a workplace learning module we can support with finding placements through our relationships with local employers. To learn more, visit our Workplace Learning Moodle pages.

We can also help with finding disability confident employers and engaging with them positively for example how to disclose. We also have the Employability Confident programme to support employability development for students with disabilities. To find out more and book an appointment please visit our Careers Service Moodle page.

The Disability Confident scheme supports employers to make the most of the talents disabled people can bring to their workplace. Disability Confident employers of all sizes are:

  • challenging attitudes towards disability
  • increasing understanding of disability
  • removing barriers to disabled people and those with long-term health conditions
  • ensuring that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.

We are now delighted to announce we have progressed to Level 2 of the Disability Confident scheme as a Disability Confident Employer.

We have been proud to achieve some key milestones in our efforts to become a more inclusive and accessible employer for our staff with disabilities and long-term health conditions, including: 

We have now expanded our commitments in line with Level 2, which are grouped into two themes: (1) Getting the right people for your business; and (2) Keeping and developing your people. A full list of Level 2 commitments and corresponding activities can be found here.

Further information

For more information regarding St Mary’s Disability Confident efforts, the Sunflower Scheme, our inclusive hiring practices, or to discuss ways to get involved, please reach out to our Equality Charters Programme Manager at