Earlier this month, Civil Service LGBT staff and allies gathered in Manchester for “OneTeamGov LGBT”. Many of our volunteers attended, and one of them, Roisin Murray, caught up with one of the organisers, Rachel Poole, after the event.
Roisin: Congratulations on a organising this event Rachel. How do you feel it went?
Rachel: I was blown away by last week’s OneTeamGov LGBT*. Bringing together a group of people, who are in many cases used to being discriminated against, for a large scale government conference, to share best practice and practical actions, providing a space where they were valued and accepted was a privilege. I feel it was a huge success.
I looked around at the packed room at one point and thought, I made this happen – but while it was my idea it was all the people who said ‘yes’ to me when I was planning it, the support of the OneTeamGov people and the amazing DWP Digital events team that actually made it happen.
Roisin: Did it all go to plan? Did it go as well as you imagined it would?
Rachel: The event was a huge team effort, and because of that it didn’t just go to plan, it exceeded expectations.
From the buzz and positivity in the room, the openness of the attendees for sharing personal stories and opinion, the thought-provoking discussions and the appetite to keep the momentum going - to the attention to detail like ensuring a safe space: gender neutral toilets, passes with space for preferred pronouns. And the small thoughtful touches, the Rainbow of Reflection and of course who could resist the rainbow bagels at lunch?
Roisin: And how you think the event will grow/change in the future?
Rachel: When I first had the idea to bring together the community, I’d not really thought much further than that. That in itself was a huge challenge: would people turn up, would we get a good mix from across government, would people want to join the discussions, would I be able to get people willing to present? Luckily the answer to all those questions was yes. If we do it again - I don’t think it needs to change much, being able to provide a space for the x-gov community to get together, discuss and share best practice and practical actions is reason enough. The feedback I’ve had back has been overwhelmingly positive.
So let’s do it again, let’s have more representation from across government – hopefully those that didn’t make it will make it next time. Let’s have more allies in the room, but still ensure that we have enough space for our champions who will drive forward this agenda. But most importantly, let’s do it again!
Roisin: Thanks Rachel.