Connecting to customers and communities - The road to inclusion

Construction Best Practice – A63 Considering inclusion in Construction
2021-03-03, 12:15–12:45, Conference Presentation Stage

Joanna Hitchen’s background is in marketing communications, stakeholder and account management roles agency, client and supplier side for a variety of businesses across the UK, US and Europe. At Costain she supports the corporate and transportation division communications teams with internal and external communications about the smart infrastructure solutions they deliver for clients. In her capacity as EDI lead she helps highways projects develop inclusive environments, meet the diverse needs of customers and communities, and develop EDI capability within the supply chain.

She is part of the Costain Group EDI team and leads the sector action plan, as well as organising a wide-ranging community forum engaging on this agenda bringing best practice from other infrastructure clients into the highways sector and from peers and the supply chain. She has represented Costain on the Highways England Supplier Diversity Forum since 2019 and helps share best practice by organising events and masterclasses.

Joanna is a Fairness, Inclusion and Respect Ambassador; a member of the ICE Cymru FIR committee, and sits on the TechUK Skills & Diversity Council. She is passionate about bringing change not only for the industry and business but to make a real difference improving people’s lives.

With over 10 years’ experience in the design, construction and asset management of major highways schemes, Nick Fearnhead is responsible for ensuring customer service is an integral part of the way Balfour Beatty deliver schemes for Highways England. He is responsible for embedding customer service to ensure we minimise the disruption to road users and stakeholders and leave a lasting legacy for the broader communities within which we work. Nick leads a team of Customer Leads across Major Projects and Operations to ensure customer needs are understood and given due consideration throughout design and delivery.

Ian Streets started working in the field of accessibility around 2000 and became a member of the National register of Access Consultants in 2003.

He sat on the drafting panel for BS8300, management advisory panel to the NRAC, and sits on three access groups; Hull Access Improvement Group, Access at The O2 and Network Rails Built Environment Access Panel (BEAP).

His work varies from undertaking access audits, training, reviewing policy and general consultancy for the likes of English Heritage, all eleven local authorities of N. Ireland, Home Office, High Security Prison Service, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and more. The work takes him all over the UK and even to Gibraltar where he worked with the government and Saudia Arabia where he audited a university.

George Brentnall is an access officer for Hull City Council, looking specifically at access issues in the city affecting disabled people. He gets in involved in all aspects of council services, including digital access, access to streets and the built environment. Many equalities officers in local councils work mainly on policy but find it more difficult to achieve change, whereas George's role is more practical: involving local disabled people, getting their views and feedback on the council's services and local area, securing internal support for changes to services or policies - and delivering change.

George is disabled himself, and advocates on behalf of all local disabled people for more accessible services. He has written a guide for local residents on disability-friendly buildings and services in Hull.