Allyship Hub Programme

This Allyship Hub has been developed to support leaders at all levels across social work, social care and health on their journey to become active allies.

This space has been created for colleagues to share recommended resources, spotlight best practices and amplify voices from across the sectors.

As Maya Angelou said:

“When you know better, you do better”.

Find out more about the Allyship Hub Programme by watching this video.

But what is an ally?

We know that there are many different definitions and this word might mean different things to different groups across Scotland. There is no “one size fits all” approach and everyone will be at a different stage in their journey. Allyship is a relatively new term, but the ideas involved – of person-centred care, of social justice, of anti-discriminatory practice – are core to the values that unite social work, social care and health.  

We asked our community to help us choose a definition to use and get us started.


is the work of actively supporting and advocating for marginalised groups. Allies recognise where power is held within a system and work in solidarity and partnership with marginalised groups to amplify, empower and help drive change.

An ally

is a person who helps and supports people to help ensure their basic rights and ability to be happy and successful in society. The ally does not themselves belong to the underrepresented group they are supporting, but they educate themselves and bring their backing and voice to a movement towards equity for all.


This toolkit is an introduction to what an ally is and how you can be one, with specific examples. It has been created to spotlight best practice research from different contributors across social care, social work and health and it is a great place to get started!

We invite you to use this toolkit for your own development, to work through with your teams or to share with your colleagues. The toolkit is in sections, so is a flexible resource you can dip in and out of, revisit and/or use in bitesize chunks! If you would like support with how to use this resource, please contact us at

Diversity blogs

We want to highlight and promote the voices and experiences of diverse leaders at all levels. We aim to celebrate diverse leaders who can act as role models for other aspiring, diverse leaders.

Get to know our contributors by reading some of their stories and perspectives below. There are 10 leadership blogs to explore in this section.

Dr Gregory Ekatah

Dr Gregory Ekatah

Consultant Colorectal & General Surgeon, Scottish Government Clinical Adviser 2020-2022 and Scottish Clinical Leadership Fellow Alumni (19/20)

“My experience of being a black surgeon in frontline NHS Scotland can be epitomised, not in the fact that I am featured in a local health board brochure, website and PR material, or that I set-up and host a podcast for the largest surgical college in the UK, but that a young kid like me via a leadership fellowship could end up contributing within the Scottish Government during some of the most difficult times for this country – the COVID pandemic. The ultimate meritocracy where my ability and hard work were all that mattered.

Whilst you may never fully understand the lived experiences of ethnic minority clinicians, creating a supportive and open environment for them to share concerns would be a start.

The question “how can I help?” though simple, is very powerful and may start a conversation that could positively impact someone else’s experience.”

Toyin Adenugba-Okpaje

Toyin Adenugba-Okpaje

Frontline social worker, social work tutor, SASW vice-chair, and Co-Convener of ME Social Workers in Scotland

“The responsibility for change is for everyone. Whatever you and I can do in our own sphere of influence goes a long way to combat racist and discriminatory practices. The work must start with everyone working in social work and social care. I can inspire and encourage others by being a good person who brings out the best in others.

Importantly, managers and leaders in the profession need to recognise and accept that there is a problem. They need to work hard at calling out racist and discriminatory practice whenever it occurs. It is not good enough when racism and discrimination are swept under the carpet or labelled with another name on the off chance that the offence caused will disappear. It has never worked and I do not think it will ever work, rather it just reinforces racist and discriminatory practices.”

Priscilla Chipo Marongwe

Priscilla Chipo Marongwe

Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Team at NHS Education for Scotland

“Within the workplace, allies enable an equity of voices, an environment where everyone feels safe, and everyone can be themselves and able to do their work effectively.

Allies should act in support of and in partnership with different communities, not on behalf of them. (…) ‘I don’t want you to walk behind me, I don’t want you to walk in front of me, I want you to be there beside me and doing’.

The impact you are having on others can be measured by the other person’s experience; sometimes we think we are having the right impact when it’s not the right impact. It’s important to check in with each other. Have you really heard me?”

Iona Colvin

Iona Colvin

Chief Social Work Advisor for the Scottish Government

“Social workers are, by definition, champions of human rights for the people we work with and the communities we work in.

Being an active ally means that you are someone who engages and are prepared to take consistent and meaningful action to ensure that your workplace, team and community is a safe and inclusive space for all, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity or any other protected characteristic.

It’s really important for leaders to recognise the talent that you have in your team, get people into the right place for their strengths and their abilities so that they can flourish and then people around them can flourish as well.”

Read more blogs on Allyship

John Wilkes

John Wilkes

Head of Scotland for the Equality and Human Rights Commission

“Workers we spoke to reported treatment and experiences at work that were different to those of ethnic majority colleagues. There was a low awareness of employment rights, a fear of raising concerns and a lack of mechanisms to do so. We heard of experiences of discrimination, bullying, harassment and abuse and there were examples of differential increased risk in the workplace. Workers reported less favourable treatment from managers, fewer training opportunities and a lack of representation in senior roles.”

Dr Kennedy Muturi Nelson

Dr Kennedy Muturi Nelson

Associate Director – Digital and Quality Improvement in Practitioner and Counter Fraud Services for NHS National Services Scotland

“Joining the NHS, I found colleagues at every level willing to offer their experience and knowledge as mentors. From Chief Executives to clinical leaders and members of my teams, they have all empowered me through their authenticity, courage, and vulnerability.
Studying and working with people from many countries and cultures has allowed me to abstract meaningfulness, competence, self-determination, and impact.”

Calum Gallacher

Assistant General Secretary for the Social Workers Union

“Promoting a culture of inclusion based on the principles of dignity and respect is a key part of this mission. As a trade union we will consider international perspectives; intersectionality; experiences including but not limited to race and identity, age, gender, disability, poverty, austerity; and wider socio-political influences that inform us as a union. We will support the union to continue to develop partnerships with marginalised communities, identify exclusion factors and obstacles, and engage in active allyship.”

Winnie Lwanda

Winnie Lwanda

Practising Social Worker and Member of the Scottish Association of Social Work’s Anti-Racism Advisory Group

“I am not a leader by position, though aspire to be one. Good leaders should innovate, inspire, and invest in their workforce. In modern Britain, it is crucial that our leaders can embrace diversity and encourage inclusion.
Doing this meaningfully involves more than simple box-ticking and meagre compliance with equality legislation…
Acting with serious intent means analysing the data and responding to problematic trends with action instead of hollow rhetoric. Otherwise, aspiring leaders will continue to be overlooked.”

Laic Khalique

Laic Khalique

Director of Digital Technology, NHS Tayside and Chair of the NHS Ethnic Minority Forum

“I was lucky enough in my career to have two managers both women of colour, who provided me with a wealth of insight in the challenges that minority ethnic staff face within our service. It made me realise that the visibility of senior minority ethnic staff is hugely important. If you are a young woman of colour, starting your career, how can you conceive of being a director, or a Chief Executive if you have no visible role models? Simply put, you can’t bewhat you can’t see.”

Caroline Lamb

Caroline Lamb

NHS Scotland Chief Executive and Director General for Health and Social Care

“Our people are a diverse mix – both those providing and those receiving care. Acknowledging and celebrating this diversity is always important, but making sure this is not forgotten is vital during challenging times. Demonstrating active allyship – both collectively and as individuals – is paramount to ensuring our colleagues and the people who benefit from our care, especially those from minority backgrounds, can continue to enjoy experiencing meaningful equal opportunities to thrive in the workplace and have equal standards of care.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Allyship Hub Programme?

The Allyship Hub is a collection of recommended resources about Allyship. There is a lot of information out there and it is not always clear how to find applicable, actionable, accessible resources. The aim of the hub is to provide introductory resources and then build on this to provide content that is relevant and tailored to the sectors we support and which identifies practical actions we can take in our daily work.

How does the Allyship Hub Programme align with other Leading to Change programmes?

The Allyship Hub is part of the Leading to Change Equalities work, to support the aim to “integrate anti-racist and anti-discriminatory approaches across systems and develop a network of active allies across health, social care and social work in Scotland.”

I want to learn more – how do I get involved?

We aim to create a community of people who would like to be advocates for allyship in their workplace.

The hub shines a light on and celebrates diverse voices across our community. This is an ongoing process, and we welcome you to participate, contribute and add your own voice in a way that feels right for you. You can use these resources for personal development, share with others or create your own content, such as a blog, a podcast or a vlog telling your allyship story. We welcome your thoughts, ideas and input in any form or shape. The toolkit also includes a short feedback form that gives you the option to join our community of practice.

Finally, if you would like support using the resources, we are here to help – please keep in touch through

Who is the Allyship Hub Programme for?

The Allyship Hub is for anyone working in social care, social work and health in Scotland who wants to learn more about how to be an active ally in the workplace.

Are there any resources I can share with my team?

Yes! We have lots of resources linked within the toolkit, such as articles, videos, blogs and suggestions for further learning. We will continue to keep this updated as we work to highlight best practices across the sectors.

How do I contact you?

We would love to hear from you with any feedback, suggestions and ideas. Please contact us by emailing:

Leading to Change logo
Explore your potential with the Leading to Change app
Wellbeing Hub logo
Visit the National Wellbeing Hub for resources on how to stay well
Skip to content