Diversity in action

As an openly bi-sexual woman I think it’s important that everyone within the lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) spectrum are acknowledged and represented. That’s why I’ve been involved in our Spectrum LGBT staff group for the last five years. People identifying as bi face issues unique to them and we don’t want to be invisible in the campaign towards LGBT equality.

After recently completing Stonewall’s Bi-sexual Role Model Programme and, previously, their LGBT Role Model training, I am determined to do what I can to make our voices heard and I’m even more keen to support colleagues who need advice or information, or just someone to talk to.

I recently accepted the post of secretary to another of our diversity staff groups. Enable is a support network for those who may have differing abilities and need support in order to do their job. I have been part of the group for a couple of years now. I joined after surviving a mental breakdown, because I wanted to promote the importance of good mental health and to help shape group policies to reflect this. Now I have the opportunity to support the excellent work the group does in supporting colleagues who find themselves in need of help or advice.

Formerly the Action for Disabled Staff Group (ADSG), members decided to rename the group Enable. We felt that the word disabled can have negative connotations and we wanted to promote a more positive attitude to ability rather than disability. Enable was chosen because that’s precisely what we want to do; enable our colleagues to carry out their jobs regardless of any differing abilities.

People identifying as bi face issues unique to them and we don’t want to be invisible in the campaign towards LGBT equality

While I applaud the work of all our equality and diversity staff groups, Spectrum, Enable and BME, we need to recognise that people are multifaceted and don’t simply fit into one group specifically. As someone who has experienced mental health issues, alongside biphobia, I want to speak out about the importance of enabling people to do their job without fear of prejudice of any kind.

As part of Spectrum I attend meetings of HouseProud North West, a group formed to share best practice in LGBT equality and diversity in the social housing sector. We meet quarterly and often hear speakers on specific issues. Alongside these meetings there are social gatherings, both of which I’ve hosted here in Liverpool. I also attend meetings of the North West Older Persons LGBT Housing Group, which does exactly what it says on the tin, looks at the provision of LGBT friendly housing for older people.

All this I do as well as my proper job, which is working nights in the customer service centre. My involvement in both Enable and Spectrum is important to me as, on a personal level, like many others, I don’t fit in to one box. My ability to be so involved is due, in no small part, to the lessons learned, and skills acquired from the Housing Diversity Network mentoring programme I took part in two years ago. Without it, I would have struggled to take on responsibilities that result in being so visible.