Staff & Disability Network


Support, Advocacy & Solidarity

For staff with disabilities or mental
ill-health and colleagues affected by related issues.

The Staff & Disability Network aims to bring together members of the University community with a physical impairment, mental ill-health, developmental condition, or any other condition covered by disability legislation (either declared or undeclared) in an informal and relaxed way. It is open to all members of staff with experience of, or an interest in, these areas. Members of the network are able to meet each other, gain or offer support, participate in social activities, and share experiences. We aim to maintain a comfortable and fully inclusive environment without fear of discrimination.

Who we are ...

We are a friendly group of staff volunteers from across the University community, working together for the benefit of all staff. Mr Mark Morley, Learning Technologist in Corporate Information and Computing Services, is the current Chair of the S&DN committee. If you are interested in joining the network, please contact us on or alternatively just come and meet us at any of our socials or events.   

Mental Health Awareness Week 2017


This year Mental Health Awareness Week, organised by the Mental Health Foundation, is flipping the focus away from mental ill-health to explore how we can cultivate good mental health, with a focus on the strategies and resources we need to re-frame our ability to thrive in life.

In the University's most recent staff survey 76 per cent of respondents said they would be comfortable discussing a mental health and wellbeing issue with their manager. To help continue this sense of openness, colleagues will be sharing their stories on wellbeing and mental health related research, projects, initiatives and activities in departments, across the University and within the local community.

Look out for these on the In the Spotlight page from 8–14 May 2017.

A healthy balance of activites including meditation, choir, Tai-Chi, needlework and the Juice walking group will be taking place during Mental Health Awareness week and are available to book through the Juice Health & Wellbeing pages.


"I like being with people it does me good"

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Brendan Stone (Professor of Social Engagement and the Humanities) has shared his story on what good mental health and wellbeing means to him and how this is reflected in his work across our university and city.

Brendan is also a trustee of Sheffield Flourish, a mental health charity which works closely with the University and the NHS.

Staff & Disability Network Programme of Events 2016 - 2017

Throughout this academic year, we will be running a series of free lunchtime events to inform, involve and support staff which include the opportunity for a cup of tea and a chat:

Tea & Talks - Mental Health

As part of the University’s ‘Time to Change’ mental health awareness pledge and to support the anti-stigma campaign, these sessions focus on mental health. They aim to increase awareness of mental health conditions and related issues and provide an opportunity to explore the topic. An informal topic-based presentation will be followed by the opportunity for a relaxed discussion.

Tea and cake provided.

1) Thursday 15 December: 12.30-1.30pm, The Diamond Workroom 1.  Book your place on Eventbrite

How you (or someone you are close to) can find the right kind of help with a mental health problem.

2) Thursday 2 February : informal drop-in event from 12pm - 2pm, Alfred Denny Conference Room

National Time to Talk Day. Come along for a cuppa and a chat.  For people with, or interested in, mental health problems not being able to talk about it can be one of the worst parts of the illness. So by getting people talking about mental health we can help break down stereotypes, improve relationships, aid recovery and take the stigma out of something that affects us all.

3)  Tuesday 9 May : 12.30-1.30pm, The Diamond Workroom 3. 

Flourishing - building a better present for people living with mental health conditions.  As part of Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14 May), this informal presentation will explore some of the key issues that need to be tackled for people living with mental health conditions to have better lives.   Brendan Stone (Professor of Social Engagement and the Humanities in the School of English), will facilitate the session.

Staff & Disability Network lunchtime Socials 2016-2017

Please come along to any of our informal gatherings to meet both members of the committee and other colleagues interested in disabilty or mental health and catch up on recent S&DN developments, raise any issues and even chat about the aims of the network:

Drinks provided.  You're welcome to bring your own lunch.

1) Thursday 24 November : 12.30 - 1.30pm

Firth Court Chancellor Room.

2) Wednesday 14 December : 12.30 - 1.30pm  

Firth Court Chancellor Room

3) Wednesday 8 February : 12.45 - 1.45pm

Heritage Room, Floor C, The Medical School

4) Tuesday 25 April 2017 : 12.30 - 1.30pm

Firth Court Council Room

5) Tuesday 6 June 2017 : 12.30 - 1.30pm

The Diamond Workroom 1

Our Re-launch Event

To celebrate it's vibrant rebrand, fresh impetus and a full programme of Events, the Staff and Disability Network hosted a re-launch event in November 2015 with keynote speaker Rt.Hon Lord David Blunkett.  Blind since birth, the University of Sheffield alumnus and former Home Secretary spoke about about his life, disability and political career to a University-wide audience.  The event was attended and supported by Professor Gill Valentine, PVC for Social Science,  Gill Tait, Associate Director of Human Resources, Professor Wyn Morgan, PVC for Learning and Teaching, as well as Professor Tony Ryan, PVC for Science, who also addressed the audience on the importance and purpose of networks.  Dr Chetna Patel, Joint Chair of the Staff & Disability Network, also spoke about the aims and objectives of the network and how to move it forward through collaborative working.


Some of the S&DN Steering Group with Lord Blunkett


Rt.Hon Lord Blunkett


Tony Ryan, Gill Tait, Wyn Morgan, Mark Morley, Lauren Simpson


Gill Valentine and Lord Blunkett


Lord Blunkett with Dr Chetna Patel


Lauren Simpson (R)

Lord Blunkett shared his thoughts and experiences on disability, inclusivity, commitment, mutual support and raising awareness of mental health.  His overarching messages on mutuality and overcoming disability produced a most memorable, motivational and thought-provoking evening:

"..... disability isn't solely about people with disabilities - it's about all of us. Therefore, getting the message out across the University that the network is for you, and that means you whether you have a disabililty or not. I think it is important that people recognise and understand that it's not just that it might happen to you, it's that you are part of the process of overcoming - of setting aside - disabilities." 

"We have a challenge and that challenge can be met but, as so much in life, with mutuality.  I think that's really the message I came to deliver today, that it is very much a two-way street."

Rt.Hon Lord Blunkett, 30 November 2015

Mental Health

Join in and let’s keep talking about mental health to help end the misconceptions around it.  Talking about mental health doesn’t need to be difficult. Further information and lots of useful resources are available from the Mental Health Foundation.


  To mark World Mental Health Day
  which took place on 10th October 2015,
  the University has worked alongside the
  Students' Union to sign up to the 'Time
  to Change' Pledge, which is a public
  statement of our aspirations to tackle
  mental health and the stigma that
  surrounds it.

Mr Mark Morley, Chair of Staff & Disability Network, said: 'The Staff & Disability network are pleased that the University is taking the issue of Mental Health so seriously and is willing to demonstrate its commitment by signing the Time-to-Change Campaign Pledge. We as a University Staff Network have been involved in developing this initiative and look forward to working directly with the University and the Union of Students here at Sheffield to eliminate any stigma and discrimination encountered by those experiencing mental health issues.'

For further information, please visit

Help develop the Staff & Disability Network

The Network meetings provide an opportunity for all interested members of staff to meet, talk informally, raise any issues and discuss the aims of this developing network. We welcome staff who consider themselves to have a physical impairment, health or medical condition or mental ill-health as well as any staff who might be interested in these issues or in the network's cause and development generally.

Our mission Statement

To provide opportunities for staff with disabilities or mental ill-health, to empower them and help them reach their full potential. By building on the strengths of the network membership, we will provide support, advocacy and solidarity for all staff affected by or interested in these areas.

Our Objectives

  • provide advocacy and support for staff with disabilities or mental ill-health
  • offer opportunities for colleages from all areas of the University to inform and collaborate on Disability and Mental Health action
  • communicate information, advice and updates to all staff
  • collaborate with the University to continue embedding equality and diversity into its culture and policy, with a specific focus on disability and mental ill-health
  • liaise with other internal and external groups and networks for effective, reciprocated sharing of information and learning
  • provide a forum for networking and a means of peer support

Contact us

We are really keen to hear your views to ensure the network reflects what staff want. If you have any questions, would like to find out more or attend any of our events, please do not hesitate to contact us at