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Family Staff Network

Information on how the University of Sunderland's Family Staff Network has run between 2021-22.

What is the Family Staff Network?

The Family Staff Network is a new group, having previously been part of the CAP (Carers and Parents Staff Network).

As of August 2021:

  • 39 members attend the Family Staff Network
  • 100% believe that the networks support the delivery of the University Value of Inclusion
Two parents lifting their child up

88% agree that they create connections, a safe space, shared purpose, interests and sense of belonging for members

A child playing with blocks

88% agree that they are able to share problems, knowledge, ideas, situations and lessons

Two parents holding a baby

88% agreed that they solve problems, bringing resources, processes and other ways of change to the University

Two parents taking two children for a walk in the forest

56% agree that they are a powerful voice and source for positive change, embedded across the whole University.

Chair of the Family Network

Naomi Blayney

Continuous Improvement Manager

A parent holding a baby sat beside a nurse

Our impact

The Family Network were instrumental in putting forward a proposal to the university to introduce additional paid leave for neonatal or premature babies.

Every year 37,000 babies in the UK are born premature (prior to 37 weeks’ gestation) and make up 46 per cent of babies requiring admission to specialist Neonatal Intensive Care Units. This additional leave will go a long way to ensuring that parents of those with babies born earliest and who require the greatest level of support and who have a greater risk of co-morbidities and spend longer periods of time in hospital before coming home, have additional support.

A teacher helping a pupil read a book

Why do staff attend?

  • For reassurance ​
  • For support from peers, and a chance to unload if there is a particular pressure point​
  • Meet staff in a similar situation​
  • For solidarity and to share experiences​
  • "For my own sanity, as it is cathartic and a bit of breathing space from the busyness of work"
  • To drive policy change and understand our family network needs​
  • To receive support when going back to work following a period of maternity leave ​
  • For support during lockdown from other parents
child sitting on mat

Other areas

  • 57% feel the network would benefit from a more structured action plan
  • 29% feel the network would benefit from having assigned roles for individuals for example Chair, Events coordinator, note taker
  • 57% would like to see the networks recognised in appraisals

Staff testimonials:

We asked the members of the Family Staff Network their opinions.

Exterior of Cityspace at night

"The network is such a welcoming and safe space, it's a real place of solidarity and support."

Stairs outside the Prospect building at Sir Tom Cowie campus

"The family network is a fun, friendly, supportive group.  In true 'family style' I felt at home straightaway."

City campus at dusk

"I am so proud to belong to a university with such a developed approach to staff networks and strong emphasis on inclusion."

Contact us

We welcome feedback on Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Responsibility.

Please contact our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, justine.gillespie@sunderland.ac.uk or,
the Student Union LGBTQ+ Officer at yoursu@sunderland.ac.uk