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CEO Catherine Woodhead signs international Equality, Diversity and Inclusion principles

20 October 2021

Muscular Dystrophy UK will collaborate with muscle-wasting charities across the world on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion principles, helping to break down barriers for people living with neuromuscular conditions.  

Catherine Woodhead, our CEO, has signed a Statement of Intent with leaders from Muscular Dystrophy AustraliaMuscular Dystrophy Canada, and Muscular Dystrophy Foundation of South Africa.  

The collaboration came after Catherine recognised the need to work more actively on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within the neuromuscular community on an international scale.  

She reached out to each charity’s leadership team and invited them to collaborate on the joint Statement of Intent.  

Together, the four charities have agreed they will: 

  • sign up to the shared EDI international vision, commitment, and ambition  
  • share policies, insights, training and data on how to break down barriers in society and improve workplaces 
  • create an EDI strategy in 2021 appropriate to our charity and community needs 

We know that we are stronger together and we’ll aim to create sustainable change by learning from each other.

We hope that more muscle-wasting charities across the world will join us in our pledge and sign up to these EDI principles to help support all people living with muscle-wasting conditions.

A spokesperson on behalf of the four charities said:

“We are delighted to have signed a joint Statement of Intent to collaborate on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion that will help break down societal barriers for people living with muscle-wasting conditions. By working together, we are committed to creating an international EDI strategy that recognises our vision, commitment and ambition to actively tackle all forms of racism, discrimination and harassment. We will hold each other accountable and will do all we can to create a more inclusive and accessible society and workplace for those in our community.”

Why are we making changes? 

Earlier this year we assessed the impact of Covid-19 on our community and were shocked at the low level of engagement we had with Black members of our muscle-wasting community. This made us reflect on barriers to diversity and encouraged us to consider what change needs to happen to help us be more inclusive as an organisation. 

What are we doing?  

  • In 2021 a group of departmental heads reviewed our internal culture and behaviours, which evolved into an EDI working group.  
  • The group now meets every eight weeks to discuss ongoing and future development plans.  
  • We spoke with our Board of Trustees to discuss what barriers to diversity there were across the charity. 
  • We re-sent Equal Opportunities monitoring forms to all team members to gain a better understanding of staff diversity.  
  • We reviewed our recruitment process to ensure that applications from everyone, regardless of ethnicity, are encouraged. 
  • We introduced charity-wide online Equality and Diversity training.  
  • We secured funding for and are building on the learnings from our regional Awaaz support group to expand the benefits to others. 
  • We surveyed and delivered tailored upskilling sessions for health professionals on working with diverse communities. 
  • We’re researching other training opportunities to help ensure that diversity and inclusivity are at the heart of our work. 
  • We’re working with Breaking Down Barriers and an MDUK Centre of Clinical Excellence to develop a programme that will identify ways to improve engagement in specialist healthcare of minority groups. 
  • We’re conducting insight work with a BAME focus group to learn how we can better reflect our diverse community. 
  • We’ve appointed an ambassador specifically focused on connecting, representing and expanding our Black muscle-wasting community.  
  • We’re speaking at conferences about our Moving Up programme to encourage increased employment opportunities for young, disabled people. 

If you would like to join us to help make change happen, please email  

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