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‘Behind the lens’ at Innovate Trust

Our Definitions Not Applicable (DNA) Network, Innovate Trust’s employee ran LGBTQ+ advocacy and support group, invites you to celebrate LGBTQ+ History month.

This month we are reflecting on the often-hidden history of the LGBTQ+ community. We want to raise awareness and celebrate the progress achieved so far while recognising that there is more work to do. As an organisation and as a society, we must take steps to become inclusive and accessible to all.

What is LGBT+ History Month?

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Plus (LGBT+) History month is a national awareness campaign. LGBT+ History Month started in 2005 to raise awareness of and celebrate the history of the LGBTQ+ Community. No group’s history should be isolated to a single month. However, it is an excellent opportunity to recognise the progress made with equality, diversity, and inclusion and to commit to continuing that progress.

From homosexuality being punishable by imprisonment or death, banned from being taught in schools, and diagnosed as a mental illness to being celebrated in Pride parades and given equal marriage and adoption rights. Transgender people finally have the right to legally change their identity and have their own dedicated Pride events. LGBTQ+ history and rights have come a long way. It is important to look back and see how history has developed.

The theme of LGBTQ+ History month this year is “Behind the Lens”, and this year Innovate Trust will be spotlighting LGBTQ+ individuals and their contribution to film and cinema behind the lens. Keep an eye on our social media throughout the month for facts and spotlights!

History: Side by Side

Innovate Trust is a well-established charity, operating since 1967, with a history of championing the rights of minority groups – particularly people with Learning Disabilities. Innovate Trust continues to champion these rights to this day, as well as championing and recognising the rights of many other groups connected with its work.

Below are key dates from Innovate Trust’s history alongside key events in LGBTQ+ history at the same points in time. This month, we wish to celebrate how far we’ve come as an organisation and as a society. You can view a screen-reader friendly pdf of this timeline here.

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‘Behind the lens’ at Innovate Trust

In November 2021, our Human Resources department recruited a new HR Officer specialising in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion, Eleri Cruchley-Jones, to support ongoing EDI work and activity.

We also launched our Innovate Trust Digital Platform launch in January 2022. As the Platform has grown and our EDI work has developed, we have created a new system to support employees of various interest groups and identities.

In light of this and following the success of our employee and volunteer-led stall at Pride Cymru before Covid back in 2019, the Employee LGBTQ+ Network was born and the first meeting was held in June 2022.

About the DNA Network

Our DNA network slowly developed with more colleagues joining and allies engaging with the group on the Innovate Trust Digital Platform. At the second monthly network meeting, the group members wanted the group to be open and welcoming to all and decided on a group name to reflect this. Following a vote, the name “Definitions Not Applicable” (DNA) was unanimously agreed.

Group members were also keen to take part in Pride Cymru again in 2022. From employees, volunteers, senior managers, and people we support, a range of people signed up to participate in the March and weekend celebrations. Read more about our time at Pride Cymru 2022.

The group continue to meet monthly throughout 2022 to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues through communications and to support policies, specifically Innovate Trust’s new Trans, Non-Binary & Intersex Equality Policy.

Every employee network at Innovate Trust has a senior management sponsor who can support the group. Senior sponsors attend some of the meetings and raise matters at a strategic level when needed. We recently spoke with Ray Earls, HR Director, and the Senior Management sponsor of the DNA Network about LGBT+ History Month:

I am very pleased to have been asked to be the senior management sponsor for the DNA network. LGBTQ+ History Month educates people about the accomplishments and sacrifices made by LGBTQ+ individuals in history. Through work, and the people I work with, over the last year, I have learnt about various people, including Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Alan Turing, Lisa Power and Keith Haring, and the different ways they have made a positive impact on society.

I hope this year LGBTQ+ History month will be one of both learning and celebration for myself and colleagues across Innovate Trust. I look forward to working alongside the DNA Network in 2023 to ensure Innovate Trust is an employer who helps people feel safe to be their authentic selves at work, so they can thrive and continue making a massive difference to the individuals we support.

The network will continue to meet monthly during 2023. We look forward to planning more events, continuing to provide peer support and raising awareness.

How can I celebrate LGBT+ History Month?

  1. Learn some LGBTQ+ History – https://lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk/
  2. Be an Ally – https://www.stonewall.org.uk/about-us/news/come-out-lgbt-becoming-active-lgbt-ally
  3. Donate to a LGBTQ+ Support Charity
  4. Employees can complete our Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Workplace survey on our Digital Platform.
  5. Employees can also join our DNA network to make friends, meet like-minded colleagues and make change within our organisation.

 

A word from Nick French, CEO:

Over the last few years, Innovate Trust has expanded its support and commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, both for individuals we support and our employees. We’ve underlined this previously understated commitment in a number of ways, starting with our growing presence at Pride Cymru, where we first took part in 2019.

For individuals we support, we have provided additional support for individuals to attend and take an active part in Pride Cymru, including the Parade, we’ve developed and delivered ‘Relationship and Sexuality Training’ that included focused LGBTQ+ specifically for Individuals with Learning Disabilities. We have partnered up with many other like-minded organisations for events and opportunities, such as the Unity Festival & Dragma & The Deviants and supported these through funding, through these partnerships, we have supported individuals to become Drag Queens and perform at venues in Cardiff and Newport including the Millennium Centre and Newport Riverfront, ensuring individuals with Learning Disabilities see themselves represented in the LGBTQ+ Community.

We have created an LGBTQ+ Group on our Insight App to enable people to socialise, find out about opportunities, plan events and share stories, the Insight LGBTQ+ Network, created in 2021, meets fortnightly, offering individuals the opportunity to socialise, discuss opportunities and share experiences. We’ve also been Celebrating LGBTQ+ Awareness Days, by arranging events and watching media to explain and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. We also support individuals to attend Equality training where they are assisting in the recruitment process, in order to ensure as an inclusive process as possible.

From an employee perspective, we attended LGBTQ+ ‘Inclusion and Intro to Allyship Training’ with Stonewall Cymru 2020, We have been developing and amending our policies to be more inclusive, specifically focusing on: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Anti-Bullying and Harassment and Trans, Non-Binary and Intersex Equality Employees utilised the Innovate Trust Digital Platform, to setting up the ‘Definitions Not Applicable’ (DNA) Network in the summer of 2022. To further underline our commitment, we are beginning to develop an LGBTQ+ Action Plan 2022, as part of our ‘All Equals’ Charter with Manchester Pride, which we will be focusing on over the next four years.

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