Build Together is Homes England’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) staff network. Established in 2014, its purpose is to work with Homes England in its efforts to improve LGBT equality of opportunity. Build Together works with the agency to ensure that we have open and inclusive environments that allows everyone to bring their whole selves to work.
Since its formation 4 years ago Build Together has delivered many tangible benefits to LGBT colleagues at Homes England and more widely to LGBT communities in England. In that time it has contributed to pan-agency equality, diversity and inclusion objectives by:
providing a forum for networking and a means of peer support between our LGBT staff
offering the opportunity for colleagues regionally to collaborate on LGBT actions
providing information and updates to colleagues interested in LGBT matters
providing a safe space for staff to speak confidentially about sexual orientation or gender identity issues that may affect them in the workplace
LGBT inclusivity lies at the heart of Build Together’s work. In seeking to create environments that are inclusive, the network has employed a strong communications strategy. That strategy has resulted in the publication of a number of blogs for the Homes England intranet to both celebrate and inform on various matters of importance. The network has been very keen to work with Homes England to ensure that its policies and practices are inclusive. For example it has worked very closely with our HR team to produce the agency’s very first “Transgender Guide for Line Managers” and “Transgender Policy and Guide for Colleagues”. In addition the network has worked with HR to ensure policies, such as our Shared Parental Leave and our Dignity and Respect at Work policies are inclusive of LGBT staff. As a result of the positive feedback gained from this work, a member of Build Together has been asked to sit on the group that will review future policies that affect our workforce, to provide advice on whether they could be more inclusive.
The network has always considered its role as going beyond its internal staff reach and it has sought to reach out to wider LGBT communities in England. A great example of that is the work that it did with Manchester City Council, the LGBT Foundation and Stonewall Housing in the creation ofa community housing scheme aimed at supporting older LGBT people. The project will be part of a programme of work that provides high quality housing for older people and is the first LGBT majority “Extra Care” scheme in the UK. Build Together were a part of the project since its inception in 2014 when the Build Together Chair, Julie Musesoglu, led task and finish group that explored the viability and demand for an LGBT friendly housing scheme in the UK. Following recommendations from Homes England and Stonewall Housing, Manchester City Council confirmed its approval for the inclusion of an LGBT scheme within its Extra Care accommodation programme last autumn and later in announced in February 2017 that it would create the UK's first LGBT retirement home.