Name: Jo Bright
Role: Apprentice Coordinator and LGBTQ+ Network Coordinator
Organisation: St Mungo’s
Sector: Third Sector
How does your identity relate to your work?
I identify as a queer femme of mixed (or multiple) heritage, a Londoner, and a female. I work for St Mungo’s, a homelessness charity working across London and south England. Being part of an accepting team, and organisation as a whole, has allowed me to be more comfortable at work.
It’s important that I’m able to be myself at work and be able to express my identity because I work with vulnerable people. Some have suffered traumas because of their identities. I think if they see staff being able to be and express themselves, it will help our clients to feel safer in our services. Then they too can begin to express themselves in the ways they need to.
Are you involved with the LGBT network at your organisation?
I’m one of three LGBTQ+ network coordinators supporting staff and clients in relation to sexual orientation, gender identity and our allies scheme. We work closely with our six other diversity networks, with the aim of ensuring everyone feels validated, supported and able to access the resources they need to move away from the cycle of homelessness.
As a network coordinator I liaise with our client network, Outside In, supporting them to take part in events like UK Black Pride. I also work with colleagues to help them understand the issues and experiences of our LGBTQ+ clients, so they can provide better support as keyworkers and service providers.
As an LGBT person, what’s it like working in your region?
Being queer and a person of colour (POC) can have its challenges. Everyone thinks London is a wonderful, multicultural place with few problems regarding race and ethnicity, compared to other areas of the UK. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always translate to the LGBTQ+ scene. There are still lots of problems for people who are queer and not white or male. I’ve come across a lot of racism and misogyny on the LGBTQ+ scene in London. It’s made a big difference for me to have events such as UK Black Pride and to know there are other people who have had similar experiences to me.
What advice would you give to an LGBT person at the start of their career?
Find your passion and go with it. Research the organisations in that area – do they show diversity and inclusion initiatives on their websites? What work have they done with and for LGBTQ+ communities and have they gained any recognition for this? Can you volunteer anywhere, so you can see who supports LGBTQ+ staff and how they do this? This will help you prepare for the world of work, but it will also give you more confidence that you’re working somewhere with good ethics and that values the experiences of people who are LGBTQ+.