30/06/2017

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05/05/2017

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07/05/2017

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Being Visible & Being Counted

 

Patrick has lived in the North East since 1985 and has been involved in LGBT rights work and community development programmes since he has lived here.  He was involved in a number of LGB bands and was one of the early members of Newcastle Frontrunners and Northern Proud Voices and continues to be involved with these organisations to date even though he has to slow down a bit!  He is engaged with a number of national initiatives aimed at improving LGBT experience as employees and users of the NHS and is LGBT Champion for one of the largest Trusts in the region.

 

“I’ve been a manager of one kind or another in the NHS for over 20 years. I got involved in health related issues as a result of being part of that group of (mainly) gay men and lesbians who worked to establish HIV/AIDS prevention programmes in the early 1980’s.

 

That experience; working alongside NHS and Social Care staff to improve services for men who have sex with men sparked an interest in broader health issues that led to my first NHS appointment as a manager working to establish integrated sexual health services in Northumberland.

I now have responsibility for overseeing the majority of community health services across Northumbria Healthcare Trust which remains one of Stonewalls top 100 employers.

 

When I first started work here I was completely open about my then partner, joining in the banter during tea breaks (remember when we had time for them!?) but confused matters by discussing my first son’s recent birth. There was one of those extended silences – I’m sure I saw some tumbleweed roll across the room – followed by the swift end of tea time.

 

I could tell that people were a bit embarrassed to ask the obvious questions and were avoiding me in terms of personal conversations. It’s easy to see how LGBT people can feel marginalised even if the intention is not deliberately to exclude them.

It resolved itself when I decided to come clean to everyone at the team meeting and explain how; despite the fact that I was in a long term relationship with a man I managed to father a child. I understood instinctively that the issue was not necessarily prejudice, but embarrassment in case people said the wrong thing – or maybe that was how I chose to view it! Either way it opened the door for a conversation that has not ceased since that time.

 

Somewhere along the line the Trust and the local Council had staff survey results that indicated our LGBT staff were not quite as confident as their peers that they were being afforded equal treatment in terms of career progression.

 

My boss knew that I had a previous existence as a Community Worker with the national MESMAC project – one of the early national pilot programmes providing HIV prevention and support to men who have sex with men and asked me to lead on developing a network to identify solutions.

 

It’s not that I was the only gay in the village but I was certainly well “out” at work and quite open about my passion for equality and diversity. They may also have remembered the tales I told about singing in an LGB band and an LGBT Choir and being part of an LGBT running group – (notice a theme?).

 

They may also have remembered the picture in my office from the 80s on the Streets of Newcastle distributing condoms and safer sex information, looking like I’d had a close brush with WHAM’s stylists! I recall being in direct competition with singing elves in the Fenwick Christmas display that inevitably, given the treatment of gay and bisexual people at the time meant there was some conflict between me and the Christmas shoppers!

 

Anyway, back to the work in hand. In order to understand what the issues were I established a staff network group with an out senior lesbian colleague which was advertised in staff newsletters and most importantly, through Team Brief which all staff receive. It seemed on further investigation that many of the perceived barriers were based on the assumption that people who are LGBT were not progressing based on the fact that LGBT staff were not deemed to be visible at the top of the organisation. Other issues that arose were around specific cultures within teams, the need for general awareness raising and evidence for LGBT staff that policies applied equally to them.

 

Luckily I’m fortunate enough to work in a Trust that actively encourages the values of respect and inclusion and have had support from the very top of the organisation to implement changes to make LGBT staff feel that they were valued for their unique contribution. After a lot of work to address the issues raised, our LGBT staff now report the same high levels of satisfaction as their peers.

 

We have publicised profiles of senior staff who are open about their sexuality and have a well-supported staff network group that meets regularly.

We have revised policies to reflect the specific needs of LGBT staff and have revised training programmes and our induction process to ensure everyone is aware of the need to treat colleagues and patients with dignity and respect.

At the heart of all of this progress is the principle of involving LGBT staff and communities in shaping policy, training and campaigns. We have a regular presence at our regional PRIDE event and are proud to be involved in the work Stonewall and NHS Employers.are doing nationally to improve things for our communities.

 

We still recognise that things can be improved and we will continue to challenge assumptions and to present our experiences in a way that is grounded in the lived experiences of LGBT people who work for the Trust. Visibility of role models and LGBT allies sends a clear message to staff’ patients and potential applicants that they are welcome and valued.

Being yourself in the workplace really does make a difference after all.”

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16/05/2017

I am PC Amy Tapping I have been a Police officer for over 12 years, I am a Neighbourhood Beat Manager for Byker. Additionally I am a LGBT Liaison Officer and I Co-Chair the Northumbria & Durham Police LGBT Staff Association which I launched in February 2016. I have taken the stance that by being openly gay with my colleagues across the police they have the confidence to have open conversations and ask any questions they might not have previously been confident to ask. 

 

I have a huge amount of pride seeing how our association has developed with the aims of supporting staff, developing links between the police and the LGBT Community and challenging the organisation to improve and provide a better service to its staff and the community.

One of the first things we did was set up our twitter page @NPLGBT. One of our most successful posts was when we showed off our rank specific rainbow epaulettes – Watch out for them at Northern, Sunderland and Durham Prides.

 

I am also very pleased with the support Northumbria Police gave in letting us have a rainbow pride car - this vehicle gets to as many LGBT related events and out on the scene when it can. It’s great for giving people a reason to talk to us and to get a photo snapped with it. It was recently at Northumbria University where I hosted an evening event in partnership with Lesbian and Gay Lawyers North East on the subject of Domestic Violence in LGBT relationships. I am passionate this is something the association can help the force do even better in. Also I recently did some work looking at the victim journey for a LGBT hate crime victim working with Northumbria University, I’m hoping the results of this will improve the service we deliver. 

 

We have some good senior female role models in the force and the association has set up a senior leadership allies programme, this gives those leaders an insight to some of the challenges for both LGBT staff and the public and they are visibly supporting the LGBT Community.

While I am working really hard to improve life for staff within the organisation and to help Northumbria be seen as LGBT friendly there are others who work just as hard in making links and promoting our hate crime message. There are the Community Engagement Teams and the LGBT liaison officers across the force.

 

Northumbria police are recruiting over the next couple of years and are currently taking expressions of interest from those who identify as one of the protected characteristics such as LGBT, BAME, female and disabled. The LGBT Association take part in the recruitment ambassadors programme by offering support to anyone who emails the force expressing their interest to be a police officer. Being a Police Officer is not the only role within the police  - we have staff across different areas of business such as special constables, cadets and mini police and business and support roles.

 

 

 

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16/05/2017

YOUR HOMES NEWCASTLE – SUPPORTING  IDAHOBiT 

 

Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) has been an avid and vocal supporter of LGBTplus rights for a long time, but we don’t want to stop there – we’re always seeking to improve our offer and increase the support we provide to our customers and staff.

 

This year, we were thrilled to place at number 28 in the national Stonewall Top 100 Employers Work Place Equality Index, the highest position for any organisation in the North East and the second highest housing provider in the country.

 

This ranking obviously demonstrates that we’re considered to be a very LGBT friendly employer, but it’s not just a badge we wear, albeit proudly, without there being some serious work going on all of the time to make sure we still deserve it. 

 

I’m joint Chair of our Proud@YHN staff network group, which was formed when we merged our LGBT group with our allies group, and throughout the week commencing 15 May, we’ll be recognising IDAHOBiT, the international day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia with both staff and customers. 

 

For the third year running, we’ll be lighting up our multi-story tower blocks at Riverside Dene with rainbow lights that are visible from miles away. This really gets people talking and we’ve had a fantastic response to it in the past, particularly on social media. 

 

Our work with staff will involve helping them to understand more about some of the issues faced by our LGBT staff and customers, and providing them with an opportunity to demonstrate their support for both groups, as well as their own friends and family. We’ll be displaying posters around our buildings and all of our large screens, including those in our executive team members’ offices, will be displaying messages of support.

 

We’ve previously held screenings of the Newcastle-based television series Boy Meets Girl, which stars transgender actress Rebecca Root as a transgender woman who starts a new relationship with a younger man. Many staff thoroughly enjoyed the screenings and there was lots of interesting debate afterwards, which we hope to build on this year.

 

Our staff really get behind anything like this, and, as a group, we’re all very supportive of all minority groups. A couple of years ago we had a one minute shout out against hate crime on May 17 and it got so loud that one person actually smashed a plate in their energetic response!

 

So, while we hope the office crockery is safe this year, we’ve no doubt YHN’s support of the International Day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia will be equally passionate.

 

Andrew Baker, Co-Chair, Proud@YHN