Staff Network Terms of Reference

Diversity and Inclusion are written into our organisational strategy, our core values and are being embedded into our decision-making.

celebrating diversity logo

Our Board is highly visible in their support for inclusion and in championing change for staff and patients and supports a continued emphasis and promotion of our commitment to improve and evolve our organisational culture.  We recognise that everyone is different.  We also appreciate that ‘inclusion’ that means staff feel that they belong, are respected, listened to, and valued. We are proud of the contribution our staff networks make.

We are passionately committed to improving the experience of all staff across the organisation.  We continue to evolve ‘#Flourish at Work’, our cornerstone programme. Our commitment throughout Flourish is to enable, involve and engage staff in shaping and developing ideas, and convert these into action to enhance our working environment.

We have several networks, which focus on staff groups who have been traditionally underrepresented or who may experience discrimination in the workplace. These networks are:

  • BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic)
  • Disability
  • LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and “plus”)

The staff networks are run by staff for staff and facilitate peer support, sharing of experiences and development of best practice within Newcastle Hospitals. We continue to be immensely proud of the work of our staff networks and extend our gratitude for their contribution.

These Terms of Reference (ToR) set out the working arrangements for the staff networks.

Aims & Objectives

Each staff network will have a range of aims and objectives and will develop activities that support those aims.  Generally speaking, the staff networks exist to:

  • Champion disabled, BAME, LGBT+ staff
  • Contribute to the Trust’s inclusion and diversity agenda, including WRES and WDES.
  • Improve the working environment for disabled, BAME, LGBT+ staff and support all staff to flourish 
  • Encourage recruitment and retention of disabled, BAME, LGBT+ staff
  • Promote an environment where staff can be open
  • Network and share good practice


  • All our staff networks are ‘inclusive’ networks.  In order to harness the collective expertise and support from across the Trust, we welcome everyone with an interest, not just those who identify in a particular way, this includes those ‘working within our sites’ i.e., students, doctors, contractors etc.
  • Every staff member is invited to join any of the staff networks provided they are willing to make a commitment to the network and they agree to abide by the network’s principles.
  • While our staff networks are open to anyone who supports their aims, they are especially targeted at those within our workforce who either identify as belonging to or relating to the staff groups that they represent.
  • Our staff networks are supported by the Head of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (People)  

Roles and Responsibility of Membership

An empowered, engaged and included membership is critical to the success of the staff networks.  Individual members should:

  • Take a proactive role in the staff network.
  • Contribute to projects, initiatives or activities agreed by the staff network.
  • Regularly attend meeting
  • Respect confidentiality
  • Commit to upholding our values

Roles & Responsibility of the Chair

  • Each staff network will have a dedicated Chair and Co-chair to lead it who will plan and run the staff network meetings and act as a spokesperson/figurehead.  This is a leadership position with specific responsibilities for which skills and attributes are needed.
  • A separate role descriptor has been developed to outline the main duties and responsibilities that are involved.
  • The Chair will represent the Trust on the Regional Staff Network Committees


  • The networks provide a safe and supportive place for disabled, BAME, LGBT+ and we take privacy and confidentiality very seriously.
  • Members are not under any obligation to declare any information about themselves that they do not wish to share.  
  • Each group will operate a ‘safe space’ approach to meetings and treat all network members with dignity and respect. Chatham House rules will apply
  • Records of meetings will be kept, but full names will not be included in any notes or minutes that will be circulated outside the group membership.
  • The membership/circulation list will be kept confidential, and members’ details will never be shared without their permission.

Resource & Budget

  • The Trust is serious about investing in our staff networks and they allow staff time to attend meetings.  
  • Staff are positively encouraged to attend meetings in work hours so there should be no difficulty in finding time or support from line managers to take part in network activities.
  • Funding is provided on an ad-hoc basis for speaker events/activities via the Head of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (People) 


  • Each staff network will decide on the schedule of meetings, but meetings should take place at least once per quarter.  A meeting schedule will be agreed at the beginning of each year and the Trust will ensure that it is well publicised 
  • Meetings will take place via Microsoft Teams so that all meetings are accessible to colleagues irrespective of where they work.
  • If a staff member is unable to attend (or is uncomfortable attending) a meeting, they can send their thoughts to the chairperson by email, or through the network’s dedicated email addresses so they can contribute remotely:


  • The chairperson and key participants with support from the EDI Managers will create the agenda prior to the meeting.  
  • The chairperson plays the lead role in planning the agenda and will circulate a draft agenda in advance of the meeting and ask for any items for consideration.
  • Members should contact the chairperson with topics they would like discussed.

Buddy Scheme

  • We understand that being a new member of a staff network, or attending a meeting for the first time, can be a daunting experience.  For this reason, each staff network operates a buddy scheme, which is a peer-to-peer support scheme and befriending service.
  • The buddy scheme is very informal – you can go to events with your buddy, meet up for lunch or just spend time together.  It is up to you.  People can sign up to be a buddy, or request to be assigned a buddy, by contacting the chairperson of the staff network.

Ground Rules

  • To help plan for the year ahead, each staff network will produce an action plan which details the key objectives and actions it hopes to achieve during the year (with administrative support from the engagement and inclusion lead/staff engagement adviser).
  • A quarterly report will be produced by the Engagement and Inclusion Lead and presented to Workforce Committee to highlight the staff networks’ successes during the last twelve months.
  • An Executive Sponsor will be identified for each staff network group.
  • These ToR will be reviewed on an annual basis along with the staff networks’ effectiveness.


  • An annual Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Report will be produced by the Head of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (People) to highlight activity, successes, and challenges during the last twelve month
  • The annual report will be presented to the People Committee to provide on-going assurance of progress against objectives
  • All policy authors are advised of ability to seek advice guidance from staff networks as part of policy review cycle
  • In addition, the Chairs/Vice Chairs link on a monthly basis with the EDI Team to work in partnership linked to agree the Diversity calendar
  • These ToR will be reviewed on an annual basis 

Further information

  • If you are interested in joining one of our staff networks or would simply like to find out what they do, please see our pages on the intranet.
  • Queries should be referred to the chairperson of the staff network or the email addresses identified above