Hi, I’m Matt. I work for the Department for Work and Pensions, based and I’m based in Manchester. I became involved in the Civil Service LGBT+ Network in October 2018. I wanted to share a bit about what I’ve done as a volunteer: hopefully it gives others the push to get involved!

I organised our first local event in November 2018. Three other people came along, after I’d initially put up posters and sent a mail out.

We started small, but we’re growing all the time. At the last two socials, around 15 people came. We now have over 80 contacts in the Manchester and North West area, and we’ve had a few from other areas pop along who were in the area for meetings.

I am still reaching out to volunteers to organise events in their area — the North West is a huge region — and want everybody to feel our events are as accessible as possible. What I have been doing is sending posters across the various network groups to forward on to their North West colleagues so they have something with the full year of dates to put staff rooms. That way, people new and old are aware something happens.

In the North West region, I now have contacts at the British Council, Care Quality Commission, Department for Education, Disclosure and Barring, DWP, and Environment Agency — to name a few — so the messages are being shared in the background. Members are a mix of the Civil Service LGBT+ Network and also members of a:gender. Some have been in touch thanks to the CSLGBT+ Network’s BiSpace initiative.

The Manchester social events have just started in a new home for 12 months: The Goose, a small pub that has just been done up and not on the main stretch of the Manchester Village, so it’s a bit quieter. I’ve scheduled a regular day for the events to take place — the second Tuesday of each month. It won’t work for everybody, all the time, but keeping people informed has meant that even if can’t make it the community is still growing.

I have met some amazing people and heard such great stories and gradually building up a supporting community, I know it’s an uphill battle to get the word out but don’t be afraid to ask for help and use the skills others can offer. Currently, we have people organising in Blackpool and talking with some other areas to see what we can arrange there and have been featured in the Home Office magazine ‘Spectrum’ so it has grown quite a lot in last few months and while slow progress it is worthwhile.

A quote to leave you with:

“I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realised I was somebody.” — Lily Tomlin