A partnership event celebrating the launch of a new LGBT+ Role Model resource took place in Winsford on Friday (16 February).
More than 100 people attended the event at Sadler Road to celebrate the joint work being done by Cheshire Constabulary, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC).
This work has involved the production of a new resource booklet which tells the stories of 10 LGBT+ Role Models who represent the three organisations.
The role models’ aims are to help others be themselves, encourage people to reach their full potential and to act as an inspiration for colleagues and peers.
Chief Fire Officer Paul Hancock opened the event and said: “When I joined the service in 1985 LGBT+ wasn’t on the radar. The organisation was very macho and dominated by males.
“It’s fantastic to see the great work that has been done in this area and to now be promoting all that is good about people – regardless of who we are.
“We have made fantastic progress and I’d also like to congratulate the police force, fire service and CWAC for all making it into Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers in this year’s Workplace Equality Index (WEI).
“No-one should underestimate the positive impact they can individually have on an organisation. We all bring our own diversity and are all role models who help shape the place we work.”
The event included a talk from Cllr Ste Smith, who spoke about his own experiences and the importance of role models.
In his biography Ste, who works as a teacher, said: “We’ve all heard the notion that people perform much better in the workplace when they feel free to be themselves.
“Being open about my sexual orientation was truly liberating and I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
“If you feel in a position where you want to come out but are still apprehensive, then I would seek out support to help you do so.
“We are fortunate to have a great LGBT Friends Network and are lucky to have colleagues who are able to support and advise.”
A panel discussion and Q&A then took place, which was hosted by Abby Crawford, from Stonewall.
On the panel were Helen Pickin-Jones (CWAC), Mark Shone (CFRS), PC Mike Wynne, David Redpath-Smith (CWAC), D/Sgt Danielle Knox and Cllr Ste Smith.
There were discussions around how we challenge behaviour, how far we have come in making our workplaces inclusive and what steps need to be taken to ensure we keep progressing.
The event also included a raffle to raise funds for the Proud Trust – a charity which helps young people empower themselves to make positive changes for themselves and their communities.
Acting Chief Constable Janette McCormick closed the event and said: “After sitting and listening to peoples’ stories today I feel positive about the strides that are being made, but there is still more to be done.
“During the past few years we have reflected on our LGBT+ policies and practices which has led to a great deal of positive work being done internally – and this has been reflected through our Stonewall rankings.
“But we must keep working to ensure we have a workforce that reflects our communities. This is fundamental in helping to keep people safe.
“This has been a fantastic event and I would like to thank all the role models and everyone who has attended. We should all be really proud of the work that is being done in Cheshire to support our LGBT+ communities.