CEO Christine Locke on Rotary Radio UK

Diversity House was delighted as our CEO, Christine Lock, was invited to share insights on Rotary Radio UK, providing a comprehensive overview of the organisation’s mission and activities. Christine eloquently discussed the charity’s origins, its focus on community integration, and the diverse range of programs addressing social and health inequalities. She highlighted the importance of cultural understanding and the positive impact achieved through Diversity House’s initiatives.

The entire podcast can be listened to via the media player below, or the full transcript can be read at the end of this page.

Podcast Transcript

You’re listening to Rotary Radio UK. And we’re joined this morning by Christine Lock of Diversity House. Christine, good morning. Good morning, and you’re very welcome. Right. Diversity House. Tell me all about it. Diversity House is a charity that we started in 2007. The idea of Diversity House is to promote community integration, reintegration, inclusion, and cohesion. It’s a charity that is community, school, and prison-based.

So, we support people to address social and health inequalities because, as the economist Robert Putnam said, that’s a community that is included, where people feel valued and respected. Those communities have a sense of belonging and will bring their social capital to develop their community. That’s what Diversity House is about.

We need to support people to have this feeling of belonging and to feel supported and respected. They will bring out the assets they have within them to develop their community. What prompted you to start Diversity House in the first place? Yes, that’s a very good question. I moved from London, where I was living in 2000, and moved to Swale in 2001 when I met my husband.

When I came here in 2001, Swale was predominantly a mainstream community. There were very few people from a minority background. I sensed this fear, people not understanding one another, especially for me with my background. I experienced that kind of treatment, but I felt that it’s left for me to show people that I’m harmless, to show people that I’m the same as every other person.

We may have different cultures, but our different cultures are very enriching. If we can pull our cultures together and have this cultural understanding and build cultural bridges, we may see ourselves as friends and help one another. In doing so, we have harmony and a cohesive community where we feel comfortable bringing out our social assets and social capital to build this place up.

And that’s why I started Diversity House in 2007. Where does your funding come from? Funding comes from different streams. We have in-kind funding from individuals who give us donations or provide expertise through volunteers. We also write funding bids for trusts and organizations like the National Lottery, Lloyds TSB, Kent County Council, Borough Council, and other trusts, securing funding.

We also generate our own funding through expertise. I teach, do consultancy, presentations, evaluations, and audits on equality, diversity, and inclusion for organizations. The staff initially were all volunteers when we started Diversity House. After six, seven years, we were able to write funding bids, so now we have a mix of volunteers and paid staff.

I visited your premises in Sittingbourne before Christmas. Tell us a bit about them and what goes on. We operate 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, and also on exceptional days like Saturdays and Sundays for events. We have a wide range of activities, including coffee mornings. One hub is important, especially in cold weather, where people can come in, have refreshments, socialize, and access various activities and interventions.

We have state-of-the-art IT suites for learning essential IT and cybersecurity. We offer vocational skills like sewing, cooking classes for addressing health inequalities, teaching people to cook fresh meals at home. We also have yoga sessions, inclusive with armchair yoga for those with mobility issues. Language lessons are not just for non-English speakers but include various nationalities learning English together. Conversational reading classes and life and social skills are part of our offerings.

We also provide mentoring sessions, health checks, and training sessions on soft skills like self-esteem, confidence building, assertiveness, managing anxiety, relationships, and cultural proficiency for health and social care workers. We have over 24 soft skills for people to learn. We also do brief motivational interventions, offering 1-to-1 support.

What’s the age range of the people that come? We’ve had people with babies, and it doesn’t matter. It’s a safe and healthy place. We have enough room and a playground for children to play while their parents participate in activities.

Diversity House has two arms: the Center for Innovation and Development open to everyone for personal development, and the Center for Women Innovation, funded by the National Lottery, focusing on gender equality and women empowerment. We’ve been fortunate to have the Mayor of Swale, Counselors, and Sarah Stephen as the ambassador for women and girls supporting us.

If Rotarians and others listening want to help, how can they get in touch, and what are you looking for? We’re looking for trustees, volunteers with skills in management, accounting, bookkeeping, events organization, bid writing, networking, and those who can connect us with community-minded philanthropists. Donations, both financial and in-kind, are welcome, including contributions to our multicultural food bank.

We invite Rotarians and others to support us financially. We’re not just a Swale charity; we’re registered to support across Kent and Medway. Engaging with us could also put Swale and Kent on the global map through our women empowerment project registered with the United Nations Global Compact since 2010. We report to the UN Secretary-General on our engagement and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in our area.

For more information, visit our website at or email us at You can also reach us by phone at 01795 420455. We encourage people to come and use our center, located at ISP House, Church Street, Sittingbourne.

Christine, it’s been great talking to you. Thank you for coming in. You’ve made my job easy, hardly needing any prompts. Thank you for inviting me. Thanks a lot.