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Speak Out Guardians

Speak Out Guardians (for staff)

If you would like to speak to someone about your experience, you can talk to the University's Speak Out Guardians and/or any one of a network of trained Dignity and Respect Advisors

Who are Speak Out Guardians?

Speak Out Guardians are members of staff who have volunteered to undertake the role. They support the University in being an open and transparent place to work, where all staff are actively encouraged and enabled to speak out, specifically about any dignity and respect issues. The Speak Out Guardians are independent and are able to listen to employee concerns, identify trends or themes and enable confidentiality at all times (the Speak Out Guardians do share information confidentially between themselves).

They work with the University Executive Board (UEB), the network of Dignity and Respect Advisors, and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team.

What do they do?

Speak Out Guardians act in a Dignity and Respect Advisor capacity if a member of staff comes forward to talk.

In this respect, they can

  • provide a supportive, confidential and informal environment in which to discuss issues regarding harassment and/or bullying
  • provide information on the options that are available
  • assist those seeking advice in thinking those options through
  • empathise without judgement
  • accompany individuals at meetings in an informal capacity or under their ‘right to be accompanied’ (providing all parties involved are in agreement)
  • if appropriate, signpost to other sources of support/advice

However, they cannot

  • make decisions for the individual seeking advice or ‘fix’ their situation
  • take action against the alleged harasser
  • mediate or negotiate between the individual seeking advice and the alleged harasser
  • provide counselling (staff can access counselling via Spectrum Life)
  • give directional advice
  • meet with individuals seeking advice outside of office hours or outside of University premises

In addition, Speak Out Guardians also:

  • Act in an independent and impartial capacity, listening to staff and supporting them to raise concerns (For example, act as intermediaries; ask questions on an individual’s behalf; or accompany staff to meetings if relevant and appropriate)
  • Help create an open culture which is based on listening and learning
  • Provide expertise in developing a safe culture within the University community
  • Continue to develop a range of mechanisms which empower and encourage staff and students to speak out safely alongside the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team
  • Oversee the governance and management of reported issues, ensuring that information about those who speak out is kept confidential at all times, subject to safeguarding and illegality requirements
  • Ensure that the University is effectively responding to concerns and supporting staff and students who raise them
  • Provide senior leadership and support to the Dignity and Respect Advisor network

Contact a Speak Out Guardian

Staff can contact the Speak Out Guardians in confidence using their details below. 

If you are a student who would like to speak to someone in confidence about your experiences, please visit the help and advice page for details of who to contact.

Dr Caitlin Kight

Lecturer in Education Studies, School of Education


I have been affiliated with the University of Exeter since 2009 – first as a visiting researcher and then in a variety of roles including postdoctoral researcher, several professional services positions, and as a lecturer in multiple different departments.

In the wake of the George Floyd murder and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, I developed institutional training on decolonisation, antiracism, inclusivity, and accessibility; after joining the university’s Cultural Competence Community of Practice, I also created an internal cultural competence training course, and continue to teach about this and related social justice issues as a lecturer in the School of Education.

I have previously led, and am currently leading, several research projects exploring the intersection between social justice and education. I am particularly interested in the reflective techniques that each of us can employ to become more mindful, intentional, compassionate, and ethical in our interactions with others.

I volunteered to become a Dignity and Respect advisor when the scheme was first launched and have subsequently worked with students and staff dealing with a range of pastoral issues. I am also a Colleague Mental Health Champion and co-chair of the institution’s Wellbeing Network.

Through this work, I have found that people often just want to be heard, and to find connection and community with people who allow them to be their authentic selves. I hope to create a welcoming and accepting space for everyone who reaches out to me in my capacity as a Speak Out Guardian, whether they just want to have a conversation or think they need to pursue more formal procedures.

You can view Caitlin’s staff profile online

Professor Claire Dunlop

Professor of Politics, Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences


I am humbled and delighted to have been appointed as a Speak Out Guardian and look forward to contributing to a working culture where all colleagues are empowered to speak out about dignity and respect issues which affect them and our University community. 

I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community. I came out in 1991 at a time where daily discrimination and abuse was common and legal protections did not exist. My formative experiences of community organising and support have taught me the many ways in which under-represented people can support each other and change organisational environments for the better. I have worked at the University for nearly twentyyears and, in that time, I have seen (and been part of) welcome changes in the culture of inclusion and diversity. But, I never take this progress for granted. Creating a community with equality and integrity at its heart requires daily commitment and guardians. 

People’s potential can only be fully realised when we work in environment’s where we can express ourselves without fear of judgement or exclusion. Treating everyone with respect and care is essential for a positive working environment. In many ways, this has never been so important given how intertwined our ordinary and working lives are. I understand the importance of roles like this and I believe I can make a positive contribution. 

You can view Claire's staff profile online.

Freddie Wyatt

Assistant BMBS Technical Services Manager, Medical School


I started working within the University of Exeter Medical School in 2020, coming from a teaching and welfare services background and I am very proud to be a part of the Speak Out Guardian team. I am a member of the University’s Wellbeing, Inclusion and Culture Committee and I continue to be passionate about supporting and advocating for individuals experiencing abuse and discrimination, both in and outside of the workplace.

I have been lucky enough to teach across Europe and Asia, and to have worked with many extraordinary people and students. As a welfare officer and member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have witnessed and experienced the effects of discrimination and mistreatment and know how important it is for everyone to have access to unbiased and sincere support and help. I believe in this role and what it stands for. It is vital in ensuring all staff can work and thrive in a safe and inclusive environment, whereby their voices can be heard, and their welfare is actively prioritised. 

Dr Janet Keliher

Lecturer in Law, Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (Penryn)


I come from a background in legal practice. When I worked as a corporate lawyer I would have really valued being able to talk to someone like a Speak Out Guardian. It is no secret that there are biases within the legal profession and within the law itself that can lead to discrimination and to dignity and respect being compromised or undermined. It’s great that the university has appointed Speak Out Guardians, both to give individuals that independent person to talk to and to help to bring about cultural change and I am delighted to have been appointed to take on this role.

I completed my PhD in 2018. This examined  the relationship between culture and the criminal law and gave me a theoretical understanding of the issues surrounding ‘difference’ within an institutional system such as the criminal justice system. Following that I worked as a post-doctoral researcher on a GW4 funded project on gender based violence in UK universities. I have been a lecturer in law on the Penryn campus since 2019 and am part of the HaSS Cornwall EDI team. All of this work and experience has given me an understanding of the various intersections where dignity and respect can be undermined and the importance and value of the role of Speak Out Guardian.  I look forward to supporting colleagues in being able to speak out on any issues relating to dignity, respect, bullying and harassment.

You can view Janet's staff profile online.

Sally Turner

Head of Finance, Professional Services


It a privilege to be appointed as a Speak out Guardian and help give people a voice, where they don’t feel they have one. 

I have personally contacted the Speak out Guardians in the past as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and my positive experiences of having support and having my voice amplified inspired me to apply for the role and provide the same experience for other people. I have been at the University for 16 years and am on my fifth different role. Throughout my time here I have experienced first-hand that the best working environments are ones where people feel heard, respected, and valued. I am passionate about social justice issues, particularly in marginalised groups, and hope to meaningfully use this role to advocate for and support people who feel discriminated against.

Whilst at the University I have also been Professional Services Council Representative, which provided me with insight into how the University runs, and what the best approaches are to incite meaningful change, which I think will help with this role. 


The Speak Out Guardians offer a confidential service and any information you share with them will be treated sensitively and respectfully. The Speak Out Guardians work closely together and information may be confidentially shared between them on a strictly 'need to know basis'.

If you meet with a Speak Out Guardian, they may complete a brief, anonymous record of any discussion. Please be assured that all personal and sensitive data is processed in accordance with all relevant data protection legislation.

The Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Team collect routine statistical information about each contact made with Speak Out Guardians. This information is anonymised and used solely for the purpose of identifying trends and themes which are used to inform priorities moving forwards. This information may subsequently be summarised and interpreted in the Equality, Diversity & inclusion Reports to Council.

Exceptional cases

We aim to maintain our commitment to confidentiality, unless (in exceptional cases), a Speak Out Guardian considers that there is a risk of harm to the individual, another person or the University. In such cases, you will be advised of this before any disclosure is made and information will only be disclosed to relevant parties and all investigations will apply appropriate levels of confidentiality.