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South West Ambulance Service Trust

South West Ambulance Service Trust

Background and Objectives

When a cultural review for the Trust highlighted high levels of inappropriate behaviour and banter, with the results of the review hitting the press, the HR and Leadership team were swift to respond.

They asked us to work with the 100 top leaders to help them identify what their next steps should be in tackling the issues and changing the culture.


Workshop for the top leaders

We facilitated a day with the leaders to consider the review results, help them understand where the lines are between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour and banter and identify how to work together to move the dial on behaviour across the Trust.

Culture Development Ambassadors

We then worked with the HR Team to create an initiative, which would support culture change in a sustainable way.

We helped them identify a group of “Culture Development Ambassadors” (CDAs) drawn from across the organisation and with a remit to tackle issues in the moment and start to change behaviour from the ground up.

We have designed and delivered a series of interactive workshops which have helped to:

  • establish the role and responsibilities of the CDAs
  • upskill them in being able to have conversations to “nip things in the bud”
  • create a peer support network – so they become a self-managed group in the long term


The group has been a real success in helping to create an environment where people feel safe and happy to raise concerns and that they know they will be listened to and that something will happen.

Specifically, and in their own words they have achieved

  • Feeling I am a voice of the people. Historically it has been the loudest who have been heard. It has been so rewarding that people have come up to me asking “Can you do something to help me?”
  • Being someone people can come and talk to who they trust
  • Proud of everything we have done, from a standing start to this. I’m pleased I have been able to help unblock things and to challenge inappropriate behaviour when I have seen it
  • Affecting positive change in Crew Rooms. There can be a sliding effect of what is acceptable, a culture of whining creeping in if not dealt with
  • Getting this up and running, having such positive responses to everything we’ve done especially around care issues
    Sitting down beside people; asking them questions, listening to them and showing them we care by taking notes. It has been great when people have then said “Thanks for asking and listening to me”
  • Proud of the things we are doing i.e. creating our first transgender policy
  • Creating a newsletter of “who is who”, sharing plaudits and having our names on the doors to make us more accessible
  • Getting open feedback from colleagues about the menopause, being able to stay true to them and moving this forward

HR and the Leadership team have said that:

  • There is much more confidence to share concerns. This means there have been more incidents bought to attention of managers, but this is seen as a good sign that people feel they will now be listened to
  • The HR manager leading on the project says she has never been in such a positive environment as the workshops for the culture ambassadors – participants have been highly engaged to make a difference

What has particularly helped is the regular frequency of the workshops to support the CDAs and the way they have been empowered to take action…

  • “I was worried we could get disengaged as things like this can be exhausting, but the sessions really helped us by hearing each other’s ideas”
  • “We’ve been able to take ownership of issues, which has been so motivating”

The CDA initiative is set to become a key way SWAST are maintaining the cultural changes.