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Pride in the community 2022 with IOPC

Category: LGBTQ+ employee network, Pride Network, LGBTQ+ Ally, LGBTQ+ Inclusion, LGBTQ+ Equality, LGBTQ+ Champion, LGBTQ+ Community, LGBTQ+ employee network group, community, CSR, IOPC, Independent Office for Police Conduct, Pride Season, Community Engagement, Community Focused, Community reach, Pride Month, Pride Event, LGBTQ+, communities, LGBTQ+ Culture, LGBTQ+ Rights, IOPC Pride, LGBTQ+ History, Pride 2022, community benefit, community partners, LGBTQ+ network, LGBTQ+ awareness, LGBTQ+ communities, Corporate & Social Responsibility

LGBTQ+

Pride in the community 

The Stonewall message for Pride 2022 is ‘Take Pride’ and the Pride network has extended this to ‘Pride in the Community’. As a result the network have undertaken an active campaign to meet with stakeholders, LGBTQ+ individuals and allies to understand their experiences and share best practice. 

So, why are we the network doing this?

During 2020 there weren’t any Pride celebrations as the Covid pandemic swept across the globe. Pride marches and celebrations are core events to many within the community, so it was a huge loss to be without safe spaces to be proud, assertive and authentic. The community dealt with isolation during the pandemic. Hate crimes figures increased and the Pride flag was re-established as an NHS symbol.

Internally, the IOPC didn’t mark Pride, and Pride month came and went without a mention, and this was hurtful to some of our LGBTQ+ colleagues, despite being unintentional. In 2021, a new leadership team was developed with Sarah Green as senior sponsor, and we developed a virtual Pride with positive engagement and feedback from the 45 people who joined in. Being an organisation of approximately one thousand employees, we hope this is something we can build on if we truly wish to live our values and have equality at our core. 

What has the network done this year? 

Now that we’re in the new normal, we wanted to go back into the community to talk to people,listen and understand the issues as well as make communities aware of what the IOPC is doing to support LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Over the past few weeks, we have interviewed Trudy Howson, LGBT activist and LGBT Poet Laureate , who was our previous virtual Pride guest. Trudy is a proud lesbian activist and poet who lives in the thriving gay area of Soho in London. Trudy invited us to her home in Soho in the West End of London; a thriving and energetic area that appeals to LGBTQ+ communities from London, the UK and across the globe. Trudy’s local police station is Charing Cross, and she is well aware of the chronic discrimination issues following the publication of Op Hotton. Trudy has challenged the IOPC to be brave so that police officers do not have safe spaces to be hateful. Trudy inspired us by sharing some poetry she had written for Hate Crime Awareness week and beautifully crafts her activism and creativity together.

Pride in the community 2022 with IOPC

We attended a Sunday church service led by our inclusive faith champion, reverend Dr Phil Wall, church leader and LGBT ally at St David’s Uniting Protestant church and interviewed elders including a Stonewall Champion for 2019 and a founder of an LGBTQ+ Christian civil rights organisation in South Wales in the seventies. The church attends Pride marches and recently released a statement against the government’s anti-conversion therapy bill because it excluded Trans people. They do this despite the challenges of some churches who protest that homosexuality is sinful. They are inspirational trailblazers in their arena and demonstrate courage. We talked about perceived misinterpretations within the Bible that facilitates the oppression of LGBTQ+ people within the church. Importantly, the church community taught us the difference between being ‘Welcome’ and being ‘Welcomed’.

 Pride in the community 2022 with IOPC

We interviewed Birmingham District Manager in the Gay Village and discussed the issues of hate crime in the city centre area. They explained that, historically, the two main communities, LGBTQ+ and Chinese, did not get along with the police and both had cultures where there was a reluctance to communicate with the authorities which provided unique challenges. We reminisced about an LGBTQ+ pub called The Wellington, which was the first pub in Birmingham to host gay weddings before they were legalised in 2013. It has recently been bought by a Chinese businessperson and it was unclear whether it would remain as an LGBTQ+ friendly pub., We visited the pub to find that the flags were still flying.

Pride in the community 2022 with IOPC

These events have been incredibly rewarding, and we hope to have captured as much as possible, which we turned into news articles, podcasts and photographs to illustrate real life experiences to share the learning with everyone.

The Operation Wasabi (Stephen Port) case remains topical following new information revealed at the victims’ inquests and the release of the Four Lives docu-drama. It is a challenging and important time to reflect and focus on LGBTQ+ issues.

What has been our aim? 

Our aim is to empower staff with the tools and knowledge to feel confident to engage with these issues and help us to tackle them. If you have ever considered that LGBTQ+ issues are not relevant because we don’t see many related cases, remember that over 90% of LGBTQ+ hate crime goes unreported to the police. That should not ease our burden of responsibility to reach out to a community that is on the brink of losing its faith towards the police, entirely.

Pride is a safe and enjoyable platform to start gaining knowledge that will deal with serious matters but is also to celebrate and promote inclusion, belonging, wellbeing and allyship, which will help the IOPC be a great place to work. We hope you enjoy the on-going activities within the organisation and your communities. 

Happy Pride!

IOPC Pride Network Leadership

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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