About this document

An election for the chair of the Civil Service LGBT+ Network has been called, following the resignation of the incumbent chair.

4 nominations were received before the close of nominations. There are therefore 5 candidates for this election, including ‘re-open nominations’.

  • Eamon Evans
  • Ross Starkie
  • Nic Turner
  • Saorsa-Amatheia Tweedale and Jefferson Welsby
  • Re-open nominations

Each candidate has been invited to submit an election statement to explain why they think you should vote for them. This document contains all candidate statements, in alphabetical order, by surname.

How to vote

The Civil Service LGBT+ Network’s election run using a ‘one department, one vote’ system. The LGBT+ networks inside eligible Civil Service organisations must conduct an internal vote of their members before the deadline and submit the results to the returning officer.

Speak to your departmental or agency network leaders to find out how your internal vote will be conducted.

Candidate statements

Eamon Evans (Ministry of Defence)

Photograph of Eamon Evans

We all know that the workplace can be heteronormative, excluding the ability for many in our community to bring their full selves to work. This means that many of us struggle with isolation and loneliness in a way that does not affect the majority of the population. Staff networks, like this one, can be part of the solution to this, providing a place for us to be ourselves and make new friends. The Civil Service LGBT+ network must be a place where our community can come together to support each other and provide a safe space for us all to make connections with likeminded people across the Civil Service.

The Civil Service LGBT+ Network – and indeed all LGBT+ staff networks – are crucial advocates for positive change across the Civil Service however I feel this network, whilst it has grown in the last few years, is invisible to most. I want this network to be more visible and have a greater impact on the day-to-day working life of LGBT+ Civil Servants across the country, whether you are in London, Darlington, or Edinburgh. Together we can continue to build a fun, proactive and inclusive atmosphere around this network and the wider Civil Service making it a place for all in our community to come together.

Inclusion will be the mantra of the Civil Service LGBT+ network if I am elected chair. As a volunteer, member, and supporter of this network for close to 7 years I’ve spoken to many of you about your experiences. I know that this network needs to do more to reach out to different parts of our community to grow the size of the network and the support it can provide. I know that not everything offered by the network has been accessible to all. If elected chair I will make it my mission to fix that; whether it is having greater access for disabled staff to attend our socials, a networking scheme focussed on women, greater reach into the National Security community or events for LGBT+ staff who hold religious beliefs. Ensuring the network has an offering for everyone across our diverse community is essential to its success in future.

I am well placed to help deliver on this. I’ve done a variety of roles across Government, working in a regional office of the Department for Education on the academies programme through to being Private Secretary to a senior military officer at the Ministry of Defence. Moreover, as part of my contribution to this network I have been fortunate enough to organise our attendance at London Pride (along with the logistics of t-shirt and float procurement for all pride events!) along with growing the size of our London social events.

As a bisexual, white, cis-man I won’t pretend to understand your individual struggles. However, I do know the value of networks like this and promise to continue to listen and educate myself in order to help build a Civil Service where you feel heard, protected and valued.

Ross Starkie (HM Revenue and Customs)

Photograph of Ross Starkie

I’ve had several leadership roles across D&I networks in HMRC and the Civil Service [CS], focusing on LGBT+ and D&I. I’ve managed this alongside increasingly stretching tax compliance leadership roles in HMRC, from these I’ve developed strong communication and mediation skills which help me to manage stakeholder relationships effectively and ensure any conflicts have appropriate conclusions. These skills have helped me in my D&I leadership roles, and hopefully would in this role, too.

I have loved every minute of helping progress LGBT+ inclusion within HMRC and the CS. Since 2019 I have been actively involved in my Departmental Regional Diversity & Inclusion Network, Departmental LGBT+ Network, PRISM, and the CS LGBT+ Network as a local organiser and currently as a Vice Chair [VC] for Regional Delivery. I have a track record of creating a safe and welcoming space for all LGBT+ Civil Servants, and building and maintaining a community we feel comfortable in:

  • Within PRISM, I developed nationally run Bi-Awareness/Visibility presentations, and also supported the delivery and proofing of multiple other products. I have worked closely alongside the Chair/VC, regularly deputising and leading meetings and discussions.
  • Within HMRC’s Liverpool Regional D&I Group I am the LGBT+ point of contact, and support and participate in a range of D&I conversations and activities.
  • As a local organiser for the CS LGBT+ Network I helped maintain and build an active network in the North West [NW]. The NW reps were flexible and pioneered several communication methods for the Network, and we tested these to keep members engaged, supported and informed. As a result, last year the NW’s presence at pride events was huge, including having responsibility for the largest pride presence outside London. Strong communication routes and good member rapport ensured last year’s success.
  • Taking on a VC position last year was a chance to manage regional delivery; I currently share oversight of 31 local organisers across 11 regions. Since then, there has been several new regions that have supported the increase of Google Groups, a more localised and personal communication tool. Additionally, it has been great to successfully recruit new local organisers into the Network. We have expanded in regions which lacked local coverage in either, numbers, geography or representation.
  • Currently I am also working on the Network’s presence at pride parades this year. I am leading on the organisation of entries and for procurement and distribution of CS Pride materials.

Ultimately, these experiences, the connections I have made and the relationships I have built up have clarified what I would like my D&I future to look like, and this opportunity would bring my diverse experience and passion together.

If successful, I will focus on three things:

  1. Ensure successful programmes of work are supported and maintained
  2. Increase engagement from departmental members of staff, Network Chairs and Champions, all of whom have something unique to offer in furthering the Networks success
  3. Lead a wider role out of more informal and personable communications led by our local organisers and topic VC’s

Nic Turner (HM Prison & Probation Service)

Photograph of Nic Turner

My entire education took place throughout the section 28 years, and I entered employment prior to LGBTI+ people gaining employment rights. This first-hand experience of how damaging exclusion and a lack of equity can be, has shaped my deeply held values of humanity, equity, inclusion, and authenticity, as well as my drive to create the change I want to see. I firmly believe that everyone deserves to have a safe working environment and a workplace culture founded in valuing diversity and inclusion to enable people to be their best self. Therefore, it is worrying that we have been seeing regression and increases in hostility within our workplaces. To address this and deliver on this network’s vision of helping to make the Civil Service the most inclusive employer in the United Kingdom, by encouraging a culture that supports workplace equality and engages with LGBT+ civil servants, strong pragmatic leadership is required, and I can offer this in abundance.

My experience of LGBTI+ networks’ leadership spans 19 years from leading my university unions network, to being the national lead of the HM Prison and Probation Service LGBTI+ network. I have a proven track record, attaining the NUS LGBT HE group of the year 2005/6 for successfully instigating culture change to eliminate homophobic violence on campus, a Butler Trust Commendation 2018/19 for creating toolkits which enabled staff to understand and implement transgender policies, and undertaking a large body of work including producing guidance, training packages and a LGBTI+ mentoring/reverse mentoring scheme, which saw the MoJ being the highest rated government body in an external LGBT+ benchmarking scheme in 2020, with the network receiving highly commended status for 3 consecutive years 2018 - 2020. After withdrawal from that scheme, I devised an internal LGBTI+ inclusion assessment framework for the MoJ, which has been trialled in other Civil Service departments, and saw me deliver a session at the Civil Service LGBT+ conference 2022 on implementing data driven change.

My plan as chair of CS LGBT+ would be to unleash the untapped potential of the network to empower member networks. While the network provides support for individual members and social connections, improvements could be made to enhance its effectiveness as an umbrella organisation at supporting ‘grass roots’ LGBT+ networks. I’d work to instil a members led approach underpinned by consultation with members to ascertain what key issues are affecting networks and support needed, to shape direction, tailor support and ensure that your voices are being heard within the Civil Service. Furthermore, I’d realise the networks objective to be a centre of expertise, by utilising the knowledge, experiences, and best practice of member networks/leads to generate advice and guidance to empower and develop ‘grass roots’ LGBTI+ networks from initiation to maturity, and devise support mechanisms to assist newly appointed network leads or leads experiencing particular difficulties within their organisations. We are in challenging times and need a more proactive central function to effectively overcome these challenges together, I would be the catalyst to make that happen.

Saorsa-Amatheia Tweedale and Jefferson Welsby (Department for Work and Pensions)

Photograph of Saorsa-Amatheia Tweedale and Jefferson Welsby

Saorsa-Amatheia and I have been the National Co-chairs of the DWP LGBT+ staff network since January 2021. In that time, we have restructured, reenergised, and reinvigorated the network. We have pioneered the introduction of LGBT+ Ambassadors throughout the department, including the development and presentation of a training programme to support those volunteering for the role. Through this ambassador programme LGBT+ visibility and the events and initiatives of the network have gained extensive local departmental support. The ambassador network also provides invaluable local support for allies and colleagues who need input into their areas of work from a community perspective. We would like the opportunity now to develop this concept across the civil service to enable the sharing of resources, best practice, and support for departments and colleagues everywhere.

Another key developmental area in our work within DWP has been the use of multi-layered event types to increase participation, information dissemination, and visibility not only to the network, but throughout the business. A key development in this regard has been the DWP Pride Picnic first ran in June 2021 as the culmination of Pride month celebrations. This saw the entire department estate showing visible solidarity with LGBT+ staff though decorations and staff participation in a national, multi-faceted, lunchtime event. Importantly this included the front facing Jobcentre network showing the department’s commitment to LGBT+ inclusion to the public. This event was so successful, and was supported by the entire Executive Team, that it has been made an annual Departmental event.

Jefferson and I have also been committed to supporting other departments in the work of DWP Pride, often sharing access to events, and working alongside other LGBT+ staff networks to support events within their own departments. I have particularly supported several departments by delivering Trans and non-binary awareness sessions and training, as well as reviewing and developing Trans and non-binary policy and guidance, both directly and in conjunction with their LGBT+ networks.

A fundamental in all the work Jefferson and I undertake is our commitment to working in an intersectional way. Within the DWP we have forged links with other staff networks and have run events for International Women’s Day, Black History Month, and mental health week to name only a few. We work to break down barriers between the LGBT+ community and other demographics, as well as challenging stereotypes of other communities and networks held by some within the LGBT+ community. This has seen us develop an LGBT+ faith and belief strand lead, as well as supporting a partners and parents of Trans people group amongst other initiatives.

We are not afraid to speak truth to power, or to tackle areas of contention in a constructive way that seeks resolution of differences while always defending the LGBT+ community. Jefferson and I are a well proven, innovative team who get results. We would now like the opportunity to put our skills and knowledge to use across the civil service networks.

Saorsa-Amatheia and Jefferson Welsby are running as a job-share candidate. If elected, both candidates will share the role as co-chairs.

Re-open Nominations

‘Re-open Nominations’ is a candidate in this election. Departmental and agency networks can choose to vote for ‘Re-open Nominations’ if they feel that none of the other candidates are suitable for the post. If ‘Re-open Nominations’ receives the most votes overall, a new election will be conducted later this year.