'I don’t want to lose what we’ve gained from our new ways of working': LGBT+ Network chair John Peart reflects

2020 may have been a year like no other, but 2021 was a chip off the old block and relentless from day one. The Civil Service LGBT+ Network chair tells us about 12 more months of dealing with Covid as well as new challenges
Civil servants celebrate Pride

By Civil Service World

30 Dec 2021

 

What was your highlight of 2021?

The Civil Service LGBT+ Network has done lots of brilliant work this year. My personal highlight has been seeing our mentoring programme for LGBT+ civil servants go from an idea to a scaled programme in only a few months. 

More than 550 mentees have asked to participate in its first year, along with 425 mentors. That willingness to help others get on and succeed has been the bright spot for me.

How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing members of your network in 2021?

For me, employee networks do some of their best work when they build communities. One of the biggest challenges this year – just like last year – has been giving people that sense of belonging when the pandemic has still been happening around us. 

I think the network, and departmental networks, have done that really well. Whether it’s through running our digital pride or LGBT+ history month events, the mentoring programme or our BiSpace initiative for bi civil servants. Hearing some of the feedback about this work has been great; we’ve obviously been able to help people feel like they belong even in these strange and stressful times.

What is your number one priority for 2022?

Whilst I’ve been involved with the network for years, I’ve only recently taken over as chair; so I’ve got a lot of ideas and priorities! 

"I’d have to invite Barbara Hosking to my NYE celebration. I’d love the chance to spend all night asking her about her career as a 'disobedient civil servant'"

If I had to pick the most important one though, it’s restarting some of the things the pandemic has caused us to stop. Things like taking part in Pride events again, or simply just being able to meet other LGBT+ civil servants in person instead of over the internet! 

I don’t want to lose what we’ve gained from our new ways of working though. Our volunteers are working hard to create a new digital programme of activity that can support even more LGBT+ civil servants to be their best at work too.

Which historical, mythical or contemporary figure would you most like to join you for a New Year’s Eve celebration?

Saving the toughest question until last… I’m usually asleep by midnight! Whilst she is sadly no longer with us, I think I’d have to invite Barbara Hosking. Not only was she from the south west (like all the best people!) but I’d love the chance to spend all night asking her about her career as a “disobedient civil servant”. 

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