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Build Together Friends at Homes England

Build Together Friends is Homes England’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Allies network. The network was established by Amelia Lawson in 2016 and seeks to support LGBT colleagues working at the Homes England by ensuring it has a network of heterosexual or straight colleagues who will help in creating inclusive workplaces where everyone will feel safe and supported.

Since its launch the network has worked to encourage more people at Homes England to become allies. In addition to the Leeds regional office the Chair, Amelia Lawson has held a series of “learning sessions” for Homes England colleagues in our Birmingham, Warrington and Manchester offices (with more sessions planned for other regional offices later in the year). To date the network has ensured that:

  • Homes England colleagues, including senior leaders at the Agency, have signed up to become a Build Together Friend encouraged the network’s logo on their Homes England email signatures to show visible support
  • colleagues understand the importance of challenging inappropriate behaviour or language in offices
  • colleagues make themselves aware of LGBT issues by providing links to information sources such as the Stonewall and other LGBT inclusive websites
  • colleagues complete training modules aimed at LGBT inclusion
  • colleagues speak about Build Together Friends in their team meetings with a view to spread the word, and encourage others to join the network

Amelia has understood the importance of making her visibility as an ally known to colleagues outside Homes England. Last year she invited Homes England colleagues to join her at Leeds Pride event in August 2017, an experience which she has described as “absolutely amazing”. Amelia was even captured enjoying herself in a short clip from a local news team. She’s already decided that that she would like a bigger presence at Pride event this year.

Currently over 70 people (10%) of Homes England has signed up to be allies and have taken up the commitment to working towards LGBT inclusion. However plans are in place to increase the number of allies. Most recently the network has completed Stonewall allies training ensuring that staff at the agency are better equipped to explore what it means to be an authentic and inclusive ally to LGBT people in the workplace. Amelia and the network is also working towards ensuring that equality, diversity and inclusion lies at heart of what we do and is currently working with the Homes England’s Head of Diversity on actions aimed at further embedding diversity actions in the workplace.

Amelia’s hard work was rewarded last year when she was awarded the title “Diversity Champion for the Housing Sector” in the 2017 Excellence in Diversity awards. This year she has been shortlisted in the Straight Ally category of the Housing in Diversity Awards.

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