Civil Service allies Week

What’s your job role and where do you work?

I am PA to Resident Judge Martin in the Asylum & Immigration Tribunal in Manchester.

How long have you been an ally?

I have been an LGBT Ally for about 18 years; as long as I have been a civil servant.

Why do you think it’s important to be an ally, and to have allies within an office?

Most people could do with a friendly face at work.  Some people could do with it more than others. So, that’s me; The Friendly Face. My Uncle Charlie, who died many years ago, was a gay man back when it was illegal. My family, his brothers and sisters and our extended family, all loved Uncle Charlie. He was always welcome in our homes and he made the trip by train from Brighton to London several times a year.  He was a hot favourite at Christmas. Always up for a sing along and a couple of rounds of the Conga…. Up the stairs, into the bathroom, down the stairs, out of the front door, down the street, around the lamppost, back up the street and back in through the front door. You probably would have had to born in the 50s/60s to know what the Conga is. If it’s new to you – learn the ‘song’ and have a go!  Be careful if you end up at the back.

So, the importance of an Ally is, to others, many different things but to me it is inclusivity. Not just at work but everywhere. Everyone should feel welcome and included.  Everyone should be treated with respect. Don’t just say the words, do the actions.  Smile, say hi, be interested. Don’t waste energy being mean.  Use your energy wisely.  It costs nothing to be nice, understanding, welcoming. Lead by example.  I’m not perfect but I would rather be an imperfect friend than a perfect stranger.

Having allies at work can empower and strengthen us, give us the courage or support we need to get through the next hour, day, week. Help us to overcome hurdles, find solutions and resolutions, and to help us to understand that even when a resolution is slow to come there is always someone on our side.

What have you done to be a visible ally within your office or what do you plan to do?

I have been in the same office for the last 16/17 years.  I was a Rainbow Network Rep, alongside my friend Peter, for all of that time.  We went to network sessions, we had a noticeboard (which we still use) and we attended induction sessions for new staff to introduce the Rainbow Network. The noticeboard is now used to put up newspaper& magazine articles. We focus on the good news and useful info for the noticeboard. When the Network was ‘disbanded’ we set up our After-Hours club. We meet every other month, everyone is welcome, for a meal out. I have a Garden Party every year and we have away days too.  We have people from different offices and everyone is welcome to bring a friend. We have worked at inclusivity here in Manchester and we are fortunate to have some great colleagues who show by their actions that they are allies without even thinking that they are! Those are the best allies you can have.

Civil Service allies Week is a chance to highlight the important role of LGBT+ allies in the Civil Service.

Find out more about Allies Week