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Transport for Wales make Pledge To Be Seen commitment

Transport for Wales has joined the growing movement of organisations pledging to increase positive representation of people with visible differences and disfigurements.

As part of our Face Equality Week celebrations, we’re pleased to announce that Transport for Wales (TfW) has committed to become a ‘Pledge To Be Seen’ organisation to increase positive representation of people with visible differences and disfigurements across the transport network in Wales. 

TfW has joined a growing number of businesses and organisations, including the Welsh Government, who have made a pledge to increase their understanding of what life is like when you have a visible difference, as part of their role as an inclusive employer. 

Signing up to the pledge also sees organisations commit to including more positive representations of people with visible differences in external communication materials, like public information campaigns and job adverts. 

Rachael Holbrook, Transport for Wales’ Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) Partner, said: “Our ambition is to be one of the leading employers in Wales with equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of everything we do. 

A landscape train advert featuring a person with vitiligo. It's advertising half price train journeys to Manchester.

A recent Transport for Wales advert which includes a person with a visible difference.

“We’ve recently included a person with a visible difference in a marketing campaign and this will now be a consideration for all future campaigns. 

“Becoming a Pledge To Be Seen organisation is another important step to embedding our ED&I work into our culture at TfW and we would like to thank Changing Faces for the information, time and support they have given to our staff.” 

TfW made the commitment during Face Equality Week to coincide with the release of our new research, carried out by Savanta ComRes, which found that people with visible differences have experienced an increase in hostile behaviour when they go out in public, with a rise from a third (34%) in 2019 to over two in five (43%) in 2021. 

The research also revealed this was having a negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people with a visible difference, with half of respondents (51%) citing that they have felt self-conscious or embarrassed as a result of their visible difference. A quarter (25%) report feeling isolated and lonely because of their visible difference. And when people with a visible difference do go out, three in ten (28%) report they get stared at. 

“When you have a visible difference, everyday activities like using public transport can be daunting.”

Phil, Changing Faces Ambassador.

Phil Gorf, Changing Faces Ambassador, says: “I am delighted that Transport for Wales has become a Pledge To Be Seen employer. As part of this commitment, many of the staff team has already attended training and awareness sessions with Changing Faces, hearing from me and others about our experiences of living life with a visible difference. 

“When you have a visible difference, everyday activities like using public transport can be daunting, not knowing whether you’ll be stared at, have people make comments, or worse. It’s brilliant to see an organisation like Transport for Wales lead the way. I hope other businesses and transport groups follow suit because positive representation is important, we can challenge prejudice when we talk about and celebrate difference.” 

Phil who has a birthmark on his face, smiles at the camera. He wears glasses and a black t-shirt.

Phil is an ambassador for Changing Faces and recently spoke at a TFW training day about his experiences of living life with a visible difference.

This Face Equality Week, Changing Faces has been sharing advice for the public about how to stop staring before it happens, and tips about what to do if you do catch yourself staring at someone with a visible difference or disfigurement. 

Heather Blake, Changing Faces chief executive, says: “We’re delighted that Transport for Wales has committed to being a Pledge To Be Seen organisation, learning more about the experience of living life with a visible difference or disfigurement. 

“We know seeing yourself represented can have a positive impact. That’s why part of the Pledge To Be Seen commitment is to agree to feature more people with visible differences in campaigns and adverts. We’re looking forward to working with Transport for Wales, so everyone feels welcome and respected whilst travelling in Wales.” 

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Face Equality Week

Face Equality Week is an annual event to raise awareness about the prejudice experienced by people with visible differences. In 2022 it was 16-20 May.