Staff story: Jen Davies (PRIDE 2020)
I joined CWP in February 2020 in the position of Administrative Support Assistant within the Community Dermatology and Epilepsy Team, Neighbourhoods Care Group. This is the first time I have worked within a large organisation but, when I came for my job interview, I got a really good ‘vibe’ about CWP. Even though I would have liked more hours per week, I accepted the job offer since my first impressions of the Trust were so positive and I felt that a large organisation would offer opportunities for increasing my hours and other developmental opportunities too.
I have always been really open about my sexuality and, although it doesn’t define me, I don’t hide it and talk openly about my partner. I don’t even remember ‘coming out’ to friends as such. At school, my friends accepted me for who I was and would just say things like “Oh, Jen likes girls….” which was great.
I was an active member of the LGBT+ society at university and had a friend there who was bisexual. When we recently reconnected, he said how much he admired me for being an open, non-judgemental role model which surprised me as I was just being me. He said that he had never come out to his parents which I felt was a shame but I was glad he felt able to talk to me.
After I started at CWP, I was pleased to see posters on departmental noticeboards and on the intranet about Equality, Diversity & Inclusion initiatives within the Trust and sensed a really strong community feel. I was particularly interested in joining the CWP LGBT+ Network and really enjoyed going to an LBGT+ Network Social soon afterwards which was a great way to meet other LGBT+ people in the Trust.
I was also a little nervous when starting in my role as my partner and I were due to start fertility treatment any day and I didn’t know at what point I should mention this to my new line manager, as I needed some flexibility in order to attend last-minute hospital appointments. I was also worried about asking for annual leave for specific dates to cover our forthcoming wedding and honeymoon (which had to be postponed sadly due to the COVID-19 pandemic). I needn’t have worried as, when I mentioned them to my line manager, she was great. In fact I think her response when I mentioned both events was “How wonderful!” I felt that this underpinned what I had seen in the posters about CWP promoting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
Some colleagues automatically assume that, when I talk about my partner, they are a “he” and I am always ok pointing out to them that my partner is a “she”. In one particular case, I remember I had to have this conversation with the same colleague several times, but coming out can be a bit of a constant thing in my experience. It is really important to be person-centred and send out a message that none of us should make assumptions about anybody or anything and ask if we are unsure. The NHS Rainbow Badge training and the pledges are a really powerful focus for this and a really good way of sign-posting to the support available around sexuality and gender identity. The Trust’s involvement in Pride events is another really powerful way of demonstrating inclusion.
I am so excited to have joined CWP and the LGBT+ Network and I am really keen to raise awareness of the group within the Trust - if I or another member of the network can help somebody or just be a listening ear, then I consider that a great way to help them to be the best they can be.