Individuals Who Have Made a Difference 2010 Finalist Lynne McGurk

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Individuals Who Have Made a Difference

2010 Finalist – Lynne McGurk

Lynne McGurk works as a Care Services Officer in the Community Link Team at Newcastle City Council. In her role in the Adult Services Directorate she works with people with learning disabilities providing them with a range of help and support to ensure they are included in all aspects of social and public life. Lynne has worked in Social Services at Newcastle City Council since 1983. She has worked with people with learning disabilities for 19 years and is a passionate advocate for the rights of her service users.

Lynne aims to remove the barriers for disabled people and support them into work.
To do this she:
Chairs the Disabled Employees Network (DEN) and has done for four years. Has been a Disabled Members Unison Representative for five years.
Both roles are unpaid and involve significant amount of work in her own

time which she undertakes with great passion.

She is also a Union Learning Representative and a shop steward which she fights for the rights of other people despite being disabled herself.

To ensure people from all groups have a say ensuring employment is fair and equal for everyone she came up with an idea of recruiting people with learning disabilities as Union Representatives. There were some concerns about how much support and/or specialist training would be needed but Lynne championed their right to participate, provided support and so enabled two people with learning disabilities to become Union Reps. She provides one to one mentoring, is a stable point of contact to raise any concerns or to get help and supports and accommodates their needs when meeting.

These are the first two people with learning disabilities to become Unison
representatives anywhere in the Country. They have become role models as other organisations have seen how successful this has been and are now considering how to recruit disabled people in their areas.
Reasonable Adjustments

Lynne was instrumental in developing Newcastle City Council’s first Disability Leave Scheme.

The idea was proposed in her role as Unison Rep and then led the DEN group to support it. This scheme allows disabled people to take up to 20 days additional paid leave per year for reasons related to their disability. This could include training with guide dogs or attending occupational and alternative therapies and will not impact on sickness absence records. Also, a policy has been introduced with Lynne’s support to have disability related sickness absence to be recorded separately.
Mangers now deal with disability related sickness in a very inclusive and supportive way and ensure that it cannot be included in processes such as selection for redundancy.
Positive Action

A Human Resources Adviser Disability post was retained when it was at risk in 2006 by Lynne’s campaigning. The post

proved invaluable to many disabled employees as it provides support and guidance and facilitates effective communication between disabled employees and their managers.

As part of her role with Newcastle City Council, Lynne is a Union learning Rep and chairs the Disabled Employees Network (DEN). Her aim is to make employment fair for everyone and to do this has looked to recruit and train people with learning disabilities as union learning reps with two successful outcomes. This is a hugely significant example of good practice and ideally could be rolled out to other organisations. Lynne is a committed individual who goes over and beyond the call of duty to make an impact and difference in the lives of others.

For more information about the North East Equality Awards, please visit our website, or contact Equality North East on 0191 495 6262 or email

...leading the way to a

fairer future...

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