How the Celebrate network supports LGBTQ+ colleagues

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Kelly Corcoran - Digital Communications Officer
Thursday 15 February 2024
LGBTQ girls with flag

The Celebrate network was the first staff network at Action for Children.

It started eight years ago and works to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community and members of staff at Action for Children.

In celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month, we spoke to Claire Cahill, Operational Director of Children's Services, who has been a co-chair of the network since it began.

What is the Celebrate Network?

The Celebrate network exists to promote a safe, inclusive, and diverse working environment. We do this by celebrating and supporting the LGBTQ+ community and members of staff.

This includes supporting LGBTQ+ staff and offering confidential support and advice, advising the Senior Leadership Team on issues that affect LGBTQ+ staff, and providing a confidential network that promotes inclusivity, diversity, and the participation of its members.

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What was the Celebrate network like in its early days?

At the beginning, we did a lot of promoting the network. This included talking to teams across Action for Children about our plans for Celebrate and gaining support from all levels of the organisation.

We always tried to ensure that someone in Senior Leadership was involved, as we know role modelling from the top is very important.

Our early focus was around gaining members, but this importantly included allies as well.

We also looked to networks outside of Action for Children for support, which helped us learn from their experiences and understand what worked and what didn’t. This meant we could learn more about the journey we were going on: what were our goals and how could we best achieve them?

Our relationships with others were incredibly valuable. It helped us think through and understand what we wanted to achieve and how we could best do that.

Group at Pride in 2023 with flags and banners

A group of the Action for Children Merseyside Team and some of our Blues Young Ambassadors in the march at Liverpool Pride 2023

How has the Celebrate network evolved?

We now have many staff networks at Action for Children. This means we aren’t working in isolation.

It’s great to work with the other Chairs and networks to support the organisation’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) journey.

I am incredibly proud of what we achieved and the path we created for all networks across Action for Children, and for promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion across the board.

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What can you expect from the network?

The Celebrate network is a safe space where people can interact with others from the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.  Members of the Celebrate Network can expect invitations to webinars, lunch and learns, and quarterly meetings.

We also have a Teams channel where all members of the network can post information about events, useful links, and recommendations for reading/podcasts and all things LGBTQ+. This facilitates cross-organisation working and sharing of information and support.

One of the biggest things the network offers is the space for people to be themselves. To learn from the experiences of others. And to get confidential support when they need it.

Group at pride with 'celebrate who you are' banner

Group of colleagues and children at the Pride Cymru 2023 in Cardiff

February is LGBTQ+ History Month. How is the Celebrate network marking this?

We’ve got some exciting sessions, learning events, and resources for LGBTQ+ History Month. Our hope is for everyone to get involved and celebrate together.

We began the month with a guest speaker from the Methodist Church, who spoke about the inclusion journey they have been on to offer same sex marriages in Methodist Churches.

Near the end of February, we are hosting a Lunch & Learn session. The topic will be an exploration of the song lyrics and meaning behind the anthem ‘Smalltown Boy’.

One of our co-chairs, Louise, also pulled together a timeline that spotlights famous and lesser-known influential figures in LGBTQ+ history.

Since its beginning, the Celebrate network has promoted inclusivity and equality at Action for Children. And through the efforts of people like Claire, LGBTQ+ colleagues across the organisation have received invaluable support, advice, and advocacy.

We look forward to seeing the continued work Celebrate does so that everyone feels valued and respected.