Huddersfield charity defends plans for £50,000 'diversity' boss

A Huddersfield charity has responded to criticism of its plans to hire a 'diversity' boss on a salary of up to £58,000.

The Kirkwood Hospice job advert for the 'Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Lead' raised eyebrows in some quarters not least because of the salary level but also because times are tough for charities as well as their supporters, many of them unpaid volunteers.

Local Conservative councillor Bernard McGuin saw the job advert and said: "I do admit to doing a double take." He added: "It does seem a large amount of money to take out of a very stretched budget. Kirkwood exists on the goodwill of many unpaid volunteers and the efforts of hundreds of fundraisers. I do not think it is a good look for the charity to do this."

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The charity, which runs a hospice in Dalton, Huddersfield, and has an annual income and expenditure of between £9m to £10m, has defended the need for the new role. The charity, which is supported by 19 charity shops, says it currently doesn't reach some communities within Kirklees and more work is needed to ensure everyone can benefit from its services.

Michael Crowther, Chief Executive for The Kirkwood, explained: "For over 40 years, everything The Kirkwood have done has been driven by a simple principle: that everyone deserves to have the best quality of life whilst living with an illness and the best chance to die with dignity.

"That includes all those who find it more difficult to access the best quality of end of life care: those with an illness other than cancer such as heart disease, lung disease, dementia or MND; those from poorer backgrounds; those who live in Kirklees but outside Huddersfield; and those from a diverse range of backgrounds, identities and cultures. It also includes those who are simply struggling and afraid of what the end of life means.

"Recruiting to this important role is one of the ways we are determined to fix that injustice and it has the potential to impact hundreds of lives and families and thousands of local people. We believe that those who have experienced our care and who give generously each year to ensure it is available to others would expect us to leave no stone unturned in making sure it was there for all those in need."

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The job advert says that the Kirkwood needs to change the way it works to reach more people. "In order to reach more people we need to evolve the way we interact with individuals, groups, local services and partners to change the way we are viewed by our diverse communities and make sure we are here to offer support in the ways that are right for them."

It adds: "The Kirkwood have a strong reputation for our progressive approach and commitment to addressing inequalities that contribute to poor population health outcomes. The successful applicant will play a major role in building on the progress we’ve made and helping us to make sure everyone affected by a life limiting illness in Kirklees has access to the very best care, every step of the way."

It says the successful candidate "should be representative of our community and be able to apply their lived experience and apply it to help us engage and co-design our services to make sure they are reflective of the diverse communities we support.

"Applications from individuals in underrepresented communities are especially welcome as we strive to become more diverse and inclusive in everything we do. Your unique perspective and background could be a valuable asset to our team."

Interviews for the role are being held in May. The salary is from £51,000 up to almost £58,000. The closing date for applications is May 7.