Countdown to Amplifying Neurodivergent Voices in Cambridge

31 May 2024

Date: Friday, 7 June 2024

Time: 10:00- 16:30

Venue: Cambridge West Hub

Who Can Attend: Neurodivergent individuals (diagnosed or undiagnosed), family members, advocates, researchers


To change or not to change?

Picture this: you’re at yet another event about diversity and inclusion. The talks are inspiring, the panels are engaging, but as you look around, you can’t help but wonder – will anything truly change after this? Will the conversations translate into action, or will it be just another well-intentioned but ultimately ineffectual gathering?

At ThinkLab, we understand this skepticism because we have felt it ourselves. That’s why our upcoming event, “Amplifying Neurodivergent Voices in Cambridge,” is more than just talk. It’s a culmination of years of working hand-in-hand with the neurodivergent community, learning from their experiences, and co-creating solutions that make a real difference. If you’re tired of lip service and ready for genuine change, this is the event for you.

The evolution of our neurodiversity initiatives

At ThinkLab, our dedication to promoting inclusivity for neurodivergent individuals has been the cornerstone of our mission. Our upcoming event, scheduled for Friday, 7 June 2024, is a testament to this ongoing commitment. Today, we’d like to share the story behind this event and how it embodies our organisation’s core values.

Our journey began with the understanding that true inclusivity requires more than just acknowledging neurodivergent individuals—it requires active involvement and co-design. Over the years, our ThinkLab team has collaborated closely with neurodivergent employees and community members to shape and execute initiatives that genuinely address their needs.

Some of our significant past projects include:

  • The ThinkLab-Aviva Project (2020): This initiative aimed at creating inclusive recruitment practices and workplace culture that will cater to the needs of neurodivergent applicants and employees.
  • The ThinkLab-BBC CAPE Neurodiversity Project (2021-22): A partnership focused on creating neuro-inclusive workplace policies and re-shaping the company culture around inclusivity.
  • The ThinkLab Future of Work Hackathon (2023): A platform for neurodivergent innovators to showcase their talents and propose solutions for a more inclusive future of work.

These projects were not just about offering support; they were about empowering neurodivergent individuals to lead, innovate, and inspire systemic change.

Engaging with the neurodivergent community

Our continued engagement with the neurodivergent community has revealed a persistent need for spaces where individuals can connect, share experiences, and support each other. Even in progressive cities like Cambridge, disclosing neurodivergence remains fraught with challenges. The fear of being seen as different often leads individuals to mask their true selves, resulting in severe burnout.

This burnout, distinct and more intense than typical stress-induced burnout, is exacerbated by sensory overload, social expectations, and the unpredictability prevalent in modern work and education spaces. While personal coping mechanisms can offer some relief, true change requires transforming the societal norms and systems that impose these strains.

Our upcoming event is born out of this realisation. We believe that by bringing these issues to the forefront at this event, we can raise awareness, foster a deeper understanding of neurodiversity in Cambridge, challenge stereotypes, and celebrate the unique strengths and contributions of neurodivergent individuals. With the “nothing about us, without us” motto in mind, and to advocate for a more inclusive world, we welcome the neurodivergent community to voice their concerns, share strategies, and be inspired by those who have successfully driven systemic changes in their respective organisations.

What to expect at the event

  • Engaging Panels and Discussions: Featuring speakers from diverse backgrounds, our panels will facilitate the sharing of lived experiences and foster a sense of community.
  • Accessibility and Inclusivity:The Cambridge West Hub, our chosen venue, is equipped to meet diverse needs with features like a quiet room, fidget toys, sensory items, and colour-coded bracelets to indicate social interaction preferences.

This event is open to neurodivergent individuals, their families, advocates and researchers in the field of neurodiversity. Whether you’re neurodivergent yourself or dedicated to supporting neurodiversity, we welcome you to join us.

How to prepare for the event

Guides

At ThinkLab, we believe in practicing what we preach. That’s why we have prepared a diverse set of event preparation materials for both our speakers and participants to help them understand what lies ahead and what they can expect. We are well aware that the unknown and unpredictability can deter many neurodivergent individuals from attending events where they are unsure if they will feel comfortable. To address this, we have prepared:

  • a detailed event programme
  • a neurodiversity inclusion and access plan
  • a sensory guide outlining all potential sensory stressors at the event,
  • a participant guide that prepares attendees for the facilitated group discussions, with rules of engagement clearly laid out and questions listed for participants to consider ahead of the meeting.

Please review the materials attached at the end of the page. We hope we have answered many of the questions you might have, but if not, feel free to write to us at thinklab@admin.cam.ac.uk for more clarification.

Communication preferences

In addition to these guides, we have also prepared coloured bracelets for you to express your level of comfort with engaging and communicating. By simply choosing the colour of your bracelet at the registration desk on the event day, you can convey to others, without the need for verbal communication, whether you 1) prefer to stay quiet or initiate the conversation yourself, or 2) are happy to chat and engage with others.

We want everyone to feel heard, even if they don’t wish to express their thoughts verbally. To facilitate this, we will provide sticky notes, physical boards, and digital Miro boards for those who may not want to speak up during the discussions but would still like to share their opinions through writing.

Join us in making a difference

We are incredibly excited to welcome you to this inspiring day of impactful discussions and community building. Together, we can challenge stereotypes, foster inclusivity, and create a more supportive environment for all in Cambridge. Mark your calendars for 7 June 2024, and join us in amplifying the voices of our neurodivergent community members.

Register now and be part of the change!


Attachments: 

  1. Detailed event programme
  2. Neurodiversity inclusion & access plan
  3. Sensory guide
  4. Participant guide for discussions
  5. Panellist bios
  6. Consent form for interviews *

 

*There will be optional interviews on the day. If you are interested in being interviewed, please fill in this form. For more information, please see page 5 of the Participant Guide.