A WREXHAM woman has welcomed the Welsh Government's commitment to better representation for people with visible differences and disfigurements.

The Welsh Government has signed up to the Changing Faces #PledgeToBeSeen campaign to ensure equal representation for people with disfigurements across Wales.

Wales is the first UK public body to make the commitment.

#PledgeToBeSeen was launched by Changing Faces to ensure that people with a visible difference, such as a scar, mark or condition that affects their appearance, are seen and heard across mainstream culture and in the workplace.

The charity is calling on brands, companies and organisations to sign up and commit to representing more people with a visible difference. Make-up brand Avon was the first business to sign up to the pledge in 2019. They now feature models with visible differences in their advertising, as well as running internal training for their representatives across the UK.

Catrin Pugh, whose recovery from injuries sustained in a coach accident in the French Alps has inspired people around the world, is a Changing Faces Ambassador.

She said: “As a proud Welsh woman with a visible difference, I am delighted that the Welsh Government is leading the way as the first public body in the UK to commit to Changing Faces’ #PledgeToBeSeen campaign. We need to celebrate difference and challenge stereotypes so people with scars, marks and conditions, no longer experience discrimination and prejudice.

“It’s right that people with visible differences see themselves represented in job adverts, in brand marketing or in public information campaigns. I’m looking forward to supporting Changing Faces in their work with the Welsh Civil Service to bring about positive change for anyone with a visible difference living or working in Wales.”

Catrin Pugh.

Catrin Pugh.

Catrin, originally from Rossett, was 19 and returning from a ski season on her gap year when the coach she was travelling on burst into flames on a steep mountain road, killing the driver and injuring passengers.

She was given a one in 1,000 chance of survival, spent three months in a coma, and has had more than 200 operations since the French Alps crash in 2013.

Catrin received an Inspire! Award in 2018 in recognition of her determination to fulfil her ambition of going to university and travelling the world.

In a joint effort, Minister for Social Justice and Welsh Government Permanent Secretary Dame Shan Morgan along with its partner Trade Unions; Prospect Union, FDA and PCS have committed to the pledge ensuring Welsh Government lead the way on equal representation within the Civil Service and across public services.

Catherine Deakin, deputy chief executive, Changing Faces said: “People with a visible difference have to deal with stares, comments and bullying because of how they look. They tell us that they feel excluded and isolated from public life, rarely seeing anyone who looks like them in the media, adverts and brand campaigns.

“We are delighted that the Welsh Government signed up to our #PledgeToBeSeen campaign during Face Equality Week. They have made a real commitment to better represent people with visible differences across their communications and publicly share the news of their pledge. Importantly they are going to raise awareness amongst those who work for the Welsh Government about the prejudice and discrimination that those with visible differences still face today. We hope that other public bodies and businesses will follow their example, supporting anyone with a visible difference to live the life they want to lead.”

Almost one in five people in the UK identify as having a visible difference such as a scar, mark or condition that affects their appearance. A research report from Changing Faces, My Visible Difference[1], found that one in three (29%) people say that they feel depressed, sad or anxious as a result of having a visible difference. Six in ten (58%) people with a visible difference report they have experienced hostile behaviour from strangers. Whilst two in five (40%) say that they have felt judged by potential employers and that they have not applied to certain roles because of their appearance (41%).

Permanent Secretary for the Welsh Government Dame Shan Morgan said: “It’s important to ensure that our Welsh Civil Service is truly representative of the people we serve. We’re proud of our diversity, proud of our commitment to equality and proud to be an inclusive organisation. As part of our commitment we will be running a session for staff together with Changing Faces to raise awareness of the experiences of people with visible difference and identifying how we can improve representation of visible difference in our campaigns. I’m delighted to be leading the way as the first public body in Wales to sign the #PledgeToBeSeen.”