Darren Lacey, Inclusion Co-Ordinator at Forward Trust, discusses attending Pride marches, LGBTQ+ staff training and always learning.
For the past 10 months, I have been working as the Inclusion Co-ordinator at Forward, supporting LGBTQ+ clients and staff. The role has helped Forward provide a supportive, non-judgmental service to everyone who needs it. It’s important that we show we are open to everyone, and part of that is making sure that we can provide dedicated support to the LGBTQ+ community.
A few ways I have been able to support the organisation in this goal are; running training sessions about the LGBTQ+ community, attending Pride events under The Forward Trust banner and setting up social events for our clients who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
This year, I’ve written and delivered training/information sessions to over 300 members of staff explaining the unique needs of the community and how we can all be better allies. One of the fundamental areas of the training is around pronouns and identities, which some people have been worried about due to fear of offending someone by using wrong language/terminology.
We talk about how important it is to speak with people and ask them how they want to be referred to, rather than avoiding the matter for the sake of your own embarrassment. Staff have been incredibly supportive and receptive to the sessions and often bring their own questions to ask me, which is fantastic. We also cover topics more specifically about addiction, substnace use and recovery, such as chemsex which is a growing concern for many in our local communities.
This summer Forward has been attending various Pride events across the country – nine in my last count! These are important to show we are here for support, year-round, not just for Pride Month. We also have one-to-one LGBTQ+ meetings in a few locations and are looking at getting more set up in the coming months. In East Kent we also have a monthly LGBTQ+ social event where we go for a walk and have a picnic, this is proving to be extremely popular with our clients who enjoy meeting each other and are building a real sense of belonging.
We are determined to show that we are a place for everyone and no matter who you are, how you identify, or who you love, you can come to us for the support you need and deserve.
This blog was originally published by The Forward Trust. You can read the original post here.
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