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Ashgate Hospice > International Women’s Day: ‘I want my team to feel valued regardless of who they are’ – by Oz Heaton

For International Women’s Day, which takes place on Friday 8th March this year, we would once again like to pay tribute to the incredible role women have had and continue to have in shaping Ashgate Hospice.  

To mark the event on this occasion, we caught up with some women at the hospice to hear how they inspire inclusion, not only in their roles at the hospice but also in their lives in general, as well as which women they find inspiring.  

The manager of our Rowsley shop, Oz Heaton, has been working hard to ensure her shop is accessible to everyone who visits it – whether it be staff, volunteers, or the hospice’s loyal customers. 

What is your job role, what does it entail and what do you love about working at the hospice? 

I have worked for Ashgate for over four years now in the hospice’s retail team, my role as the manager of the Rowsley shop sees me lead an awesome team of staff and volunteers. I am very much a people person and really enjoy the dynamic working environment here at Ashgate.  

I consider myself to be a very lucky person as I get great satisfaction from my job – something that we shouldn’t take for granted in our careers. I believe this comes from the passionate and welcoming working environment at our Rowsley shop, plus of course the knowledge that every penny we generate contributes to helping someone at the hospice. 

What does inclusion mean to you? 

I advocate for inclusivity every day, it’s a fundamental part of our working practices in our shop in Rowsley. We’re very lucky to have such a fabulous team of staff and volunteers, some of which have disabilities or long-term health conditions. Every member of my team is appreciated and valued for their work and contribution regardless of who they are.  

I really enjoy motivating, training and developing my team, I understand the importance of building confidence as well as supporting and encouraging them in achieving their personal objectives and goals. All team members have a strong work ethic, they are dedicated and committed in supporting our goals to maximise raising funds for the hospice. They all work incredibly hard to achieve this and I am so incredibly proud of each and every one of them.  

What have you been doing to promote inclusivity in your work? 

I am proud to manage the charity shop and embrace inclusivity within our team. Elinor, who has autism, has been a dedicated volunteer with us for three years now. She takes joy in sorting, pricing, and organising books, media, and children’s items. Working alongside her is a pleasure as she brings a unique perspective and enthusiasm to the team.  

We also value the work of our wonderful volunteer Diane, who is deaf. Her sense of humor brightens our days, and she helping us learn basic sign language to facilitate communication. Diane excels at pricing goods, arranging displays, and assisting customers at the till.  

In addition, we have team members who face challenges such as fibromyalgia and long covid. I believe in creating a workplace where everyone in the team feels respected, valued, and supported. 

I recognise that individuals with disabilities have the same desires as those without disabilities – to be part of a community, to be engaged, to contribute meaningfully, and to be challenged. Volunteering at our shop fulfills these needs for Elinor and Diane, and it brings me immense pride to see them thrive in our inclusive environment at Ashgate. 

Over the past 18 months I have been part of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) group at Ashgate Hospice – led by the hospice’s EDI lead Liz Allam – and I find this is one of the many elements of my role that I find rewarding and educational.  

I really appreciate the EDI group meetings held at the hospice, as they provide a valuable opportunity to network and collaborate with the interesting members. 

What woman has inspired you in your life most and why? 

My mother-in-law, Barbara, was the person who inspired and motivated me the most in my life. She was one amazing lady. She was just so kind, sincere, open, and inclusive of everyone.