The RNLI's LGBT+ Network is coming out
11 October 2016
"I am a lifeguard, currently the Lifeguard Manager in South wales, a kiwi, I have 5 siblings, I am gay, a weekend triathlete and use strange words which my staff don’t understand (need a kiwi to English dictionary). For one reason or another there will be one of the above points that sticks out to you. The purpose of what follows is around the me ‘outing’ myself part, after all, today is National Coming Out Day, which yes is a thing. And yes it shouldn’t have to be a thing but it is.
"Today isn’t just about me coming out but it’s about the RNLI’s LGBT+ Network (working title), and it’s coming out. I have been working with colleagues over the last few weeks to establish a network to support all those that identify as LGBT along with those who come in contact with these issues be it managers, staff, friends and families.
"Is this necessary? Aren’t there already plenty of gays? Why do they need a network? What is the point? Well unfortunately there are a large number of staff and volunteers who want to be themselves but for a multitude of reasons can’t be. We have some very hostile environments out there for individuals who are different. This might not be intentional but it’s a reality. Since working for the RNLI, I have experienced homophobic attitudes that extend past just the language being used. I have always been loud and a thorn in the side so recently I have taken to challenging the behaviour, having open and honest discussions as well as checking with colleagues that there is support available to them. It has highlighted some short comings. The LGBT+ network is going to work to address these!
"The purpose of the network is to educate, engage, enthuse and empower. Yes these may just look like buzz words but if you take the time to look deeper you will see that this network is here to make a real difference. Yes, while there will be volunteers and staff who want to directly engage with the network and be visible, there will be plenty more who just want to go about their day. More importantly there are staff and volunteers out there who are actively hiding who they are. This is out of fear. Fear for their welfare, fear for their careers, fear for their friendships, fear for how those around them will treat them. That is why we need a network. We are here for our colleagues. We are here to support everyone with issues under the rainbow flag.
"Do we know what issues are out there? Short answer is, sort of. We want to know what support we can offer to our volunteers and staff. One way that RNLI staff are able to do this is through the Stonewall Workplace survey, which is running over the next few weeks and helps the RNLI to assess the progress it's making in identifying and addressing LGBT issues. This survey is just for staff though, as it relates to workplace regulations, policies and practices. However, as a volunteer, if you want to discuss any of the above or give your feedback - whether you identify as LGBT or not, or you want to be involved in the network, please get in touch with me on Jacob_Davies@rnli.org.uk. All networks have to start somewhere!
The Stonewall Survey
If you are a member of staff at the RNLI, then please complete the questionnaire and use the following four digit code: 1528
It's incredibly important you use this code to complete the questionnaire
The questionnaire will close on Friday 4 November 2016.