FFLAG Strategy

Over the summer, Bruce and Hugh visited the groups that had agreed to help FFLAG identify the key issues and challenges that face us nationally and locally. This consultation has been invaluable in clarifying what people believe should be FFLAG’s role nationally, internationally and, most importantly, in relation to affiliated groups around the UK, as shown by the diagram below.
Work is now under way to translate the feedback received from the consultation into a strategic plan. 

In 2017 we  will update everyone on the plan and our progress towards achieving it, when we will also seek further input on key issues such as diversity and trans where we have identified different approaches between affiliated groups that we think should be shared and reconciled.
A key message from our consultation is that local groups must decide for themselves what their priorities should be. FFLAG’s strategy respects that autonomy and recognises that our role at local level is essentially to support and co-ordinate resources for our “front line” groups to meet the continuing and the changing needs of families and friends.

Trans Pride Southwest

Trans Pride South West had its inaugural celebration in Bristol over the long weekend of the 22nd to 25th September 2016.  The whole weekend was designed as a sister event to Trans Pride Brighton and the celebrations served to raise awareness of Trans issues and to celebrate diversity and have fun. There were many activities and events over the three day period and Bruce and Janet Kent were invited to join them at the Community celebration on the Sunday.
All were equally warmly welcomed, Trans, Intersex, Non-Binary, Gender variant and Queer people along with family, friends and allies. The people we met were some of the most colourful and enthusiastic and positive individuals we have known.  It seemed like many of the movers and shakers had come together to get things off the ground.
We met Katie Yeomans (pictured above with Bruce and Janet) who had come all the way from Portsmouth to support the event.  Katie only started her transition in late 2014 at the tender age of 61!  Since then she has been on a tireless “positive Transgender Awareness Campaign”, appearing on quite a few radio and television programmes.  On the way to the event, for example, she contacted Bristol Radio and they were more than pleased to interview her at length before she arrived.  Her aim is to inspire all LGBT people and especially transgender people and she certainly is doing that.
In the picture above are: Bruce, Janet and Katie at Trans Pride South West  25/09/2016

RICS Coming out at Work event

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) regulate and promote the profession; maintaining the highest educational and professional standards in the industry. With offices covering the major political and fnancial centres around the globe, they are world renowned.
So FFLAG were very grateful to be invited to their “Coming Out at Work” evening panel discussion event on the 12th October in their prestigious headquarters building across the road from the Houses of Parliament.
Bruce Kent was able to attend and was delighted to see the rainbow flag proudly fluttering between the two RICS flags.
Professionals from across the industry were able to hear powerful testimonies from the panel of six as they related their own, sometimes harrowing, sometimes surprisingly easy, experiences of coming out at work. The true life stories were followed by an extended question and answer session.
It was clear that personal journeys vary widely and some have had painful opposition but the encouragement from the panel was that it was worth it for them and for those in future who will be following in their footsteps.
One panel member, a trans woman, described how terrifying it was the very first time she went to work in her new persona. It was difficult just getting out of the car on that first morning. The walk to the door and the ride up in the lift were full of dreadful thoughts about people’s possible reactions. She told us how she made it to her desk and breathed a sigh of relief but then later wondered if she dared get up and make herself a coffee mid morning. Who would she have to meet?
Every moment was frightening but she knew she had to make herself continue. It was two weeks of hell because of her own thoughts but, in fact, she found that everyone was amazingly accepting.
Testimonials like that are extremely encouraging and greatly appreciated.
Bruce was then able to tell them a little of the work of FFLAG, our vision and purpose. We aren’t yet, he said, at the place where we can pack up and go home saying “job done”. In fact, in the three months following the Brexit vote, reported homophobic crime has increased by a horrific 147%. So we want to become even more effective, working in partnership with others to support families and friends of all LGBT+ individuals and we are so grateful for the encouragement and support they give us.
A bucket collection for FFLAG was then taken up and the generous proceeds will be used to further our work in the months ahead.

Pride 2016

Parents and family groups all over the country had a lot of fun celebrating their pride in their loved ones this year. Here are some highlights!


Ricochet

ricochet-dorset.org

In July, support group Ricochet took part in Bournemouth’s pride festival, Bourne Free. Members wearing specially designed t-shirts emblazoned with ‘proud parent’ on the front and the group’s contact details on the back carried the rainbow flag at the heart of the procession.

Group leader Colette Hill said: “This was our third year at Bourne Free. People really appreciated us being out and proud parents and we always get a fantastic response from the crowd.”

 

Bristol Families and Friends

bristolfamiliesandfriends.org.uk

Parents from Bristol Families and Friends attended Bristol Pride once again. This year saw a new venue which enabled it to be an even bigger and better pride.

For the first time they marched proudly through the streets of Bristol with the FFLAG banner and were surprised at the amount of people stood supporting as they all marched along.

As always there was much interest at their stand, mostly from young people who stopped to have a chat.

 

 

 

 

Parents of Jewish Gays and Lesbians

parentsofjewishgaysandlesbians.co.uk

This year the group marched at Pride in London – something they had never done before but given the recent Orlando shootings, wanted to be there to show support and fly the banner for Parents of Jewish Gays and Lesbians.

Alison’s son David was over from America so they went as a mother and son duo, together holding up high our home-made ‘Parents Care’ placard in support of Keshet UK and the Jewish Gays and Lesbians Group (JGLG). They joined up with the Keshet UK group and had a great time marching and networking with other faith groups.

 

 

Weston-Super-Mare Pride

FFLAG parents Janet and Bruce Kent and Sue and Bob Allen had a stand at Weston-Super-Mare Pride. What a fantastic day it was, very family orientated with lots of children with their parents, siblings and friends having fun.

FFLAG Trustee Bruce Kent was asked to say a few words about FFLAG and was greeted with warm applause. They met many wonderful people – the sun even made an appearance and decided to stay! A great time was had by all.

We had an incredible time representing FFLAG at Cornwall Pride, Pride in London and other events this summer and we can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Swindon Transgender Group

We also met Jez Farmer of Swindon Transgender Group which has been supporting trans people and their families since 1989.  Jez told us of some of the insensitive questions that people ask of trans men and women sometimes in a coffee shop or just walking through town.  Questions such as “What surgeries have they had?”  What genitals are in their pants?” “What is their sexual orientation?” “What is their real name?”  The sort of invasion of a stranger’s privacy that one would never dream of doing to a heterosexual person.
Talking to so many people, we were made more aware than ever that there is still a huge need to educate and inform the general public about Trans matters and to support individuals and their families and loved ones at every stage in their journey.
Our thanks go to Lexie and the team for making this event possible and we hope that this will become a regular event in Bristol and encourage other cities to follow suit in the future.

LUSH flies the FFLAG in Solihull

Ryan and Natalie, the Charity Pot Coordinators, and the whole team enthusiastically set about promoting the Charity Pots and telling people about our work.  They set aside an area at the front of the shop where customers could come and shape their own unique “Creamy Candy Bubble Bar”.

All the proceeds went to support the work of FFLAG.  It wasn’t just the youngsters who had creative fun either.

Bruce and Janet Kent from FFLAG joined them on the Saturday and were also given (along with frequent cups of tea), a spot where they could talk to customers about our work and give them helpful material.  Our huge thanks go out to the whole team for making it a joyful occasion.   They did us proud, decking out the shop with FFLAG posters and literature.  Ryan even sported a sparkling golden beard for the occasion!  What more could we have asked for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rear – Janet, Bruce, Ryan | Front – Katie, Louise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Louise, Katie, Ryan and Kirstie from Silihull LUSH

LGBT visits State Street in London’s Docklands

State Street was founded in 1792 and is the second oldest financial institution in the United States of America. The company’s headquarters are in Boston but it has offices in 29 countries around the world.  They are a huge American worldwide financial services holding company responsible for around $28 trillion of assets.
State Street Corporation has a buoyant State Street Pride (LGBT & Allies) group who, jointly with their UK Families Network, invited FFLAG to a lunchtime event at their London offices in Canary Wharf on April the 14th.
The aim of the lunch & learn event was for FFLAG to offer advice and support to potential parents of LGBT children, inform them about the work of FFLAG and where parents could find more information/ support when needed.
Two FFLAG Trustees, Virginia Field and Bruce Kent were pleased to attend the event which was simultaneously broadcast by live video link to the State Street offices in Edinburgh, Luxembourg, Munich, Paris, and five different office locations in Eire.
Bruce mentioned that it was the first time he had been asked to speak specifically to potential parents of LGBT youngsters and how pleased he was to be able to do so.  Too many parents, he said, are totally unprepared for that moment when their youngster says, “Mum, Dad, I’m gay” and can easily not react in the most helpful way as a result.
If they had looked into the subject beforehand and come to learn that being LGBT isn’t a sickness that needs curing and that sexuality and gender identity aren’t lifestyle choices they would have saved themselves and their offspring much heartache.
Virginia and Bruce both went on to tell their own personal stories and tell the group about the resources that are now available to parents and family members in the UK and about the work that FFLAG is currently doing.  There followed a question and answer session and it was clear to both Virginia and Bruce that there is a growing need for support for Trans youngsters and their families.
The presentations were well received with much positive feedback from the delegates and State Street has asked to continue to work with FFLAG in the future.
Virginia and Bruce

LGBT in the Family

FFLAG was invited to Herbert Smith Freehill (HSF)’s ‘LGBT in the Family’ panel event, part of their recent Global Diversity and Inclusion Week. Trustee Sorrel Atkinson and son Jolyon were asked to be on panel along with Tuvia Borok co-founder of P3:Proud.Professional.Parents and Dario Parente trustee of New Family Social. Jill Chung, co-chair of HSF’s LGBT network chaired the event. This was the first joint event that HSF LGBT and Family Networks had ever hosted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From left, Dario, Tuvia, Jill, Jolyon and Sorrel

FFLAG thanks the LGBT Consortium

FFLAG is a well-known and respected charity across the UK and yet people are usually surprised when they learn how small an organization we actually are in terms of people and resources.  Not many realize that we rely entirely on voluntary contributions to enable us to provide our services to anyone who needs them.

Sometimes the task seems daunting.

So we would like to take this opportunity to heartily thank our friends at the LGBT Consortium for being there for us and so many others as well, because they host the largest network of LGBT groups, projects and organizations in the UK.

Over the years they have been there for us in terms of advice, training, information, linking in with others and yes, sometimes a friendly shoulder to lean on.

The Consortium’s Annual Conference and AGM was held on January 23rd and 24th and Bruce and Janet Kent were able to attend on behalf of FFLAG this year.

Paul Roberts, the LGBT Consortium’s CEO, was recently awarded the OBE in the New Year Honours List for his outstanding services to the sector.  He is pictured here (on the left) with Greg Ussher, The Consortium’s President congratulating him during the conference for his work.

Paul has personally been a great friend to FFLAG and has supported us in countless ways over the years.  Specifically recently, as FFLAG has begun a major reorganization and review of its activities, Paul has been meeting with the Trustees with encouragement and wise counsel.

The Annual Conference was a weekend of Bitesize Workshops each led by different members of the Consortium themselves who were willing to share some of their experiences and expertise with others. There was advice and information about such topics as getting the best out of social media, helping LGBT+ people living in rural areas, finances, reaching younger people, project management, grassroots campaigning, LGBT and asylum issues and many others including getting the most of what the Consortium has to offer small charities like our own.

Many new contacts and friendships were made and FFLAG is all the stronger for this association.

Arm in Arm in Newton Abbot

FFLAG parents Sue Allen, Janet Kent and Bruce Kent attended the launch of Arm in Arm, a regular event set up to tackle the damaging effects of loneliness and social isolation in the over 50s in Devon’s LGBT community.

Ex-soldier James Wharton author of “Out in the Army – My Life as a Gay Soldier” spoke about his life in the army, the homophobia, as well as the 6 weeks he spent serving with Prince Harry, who is a strong straight ally for LGBT rights.

We also met up with Carol who runs Transfigurations, a support group for transgender and or gender variant people, their parents and wider family and their partners. Carol transitioned over 40 years ago, so has great understanding and insight into issues that might be faced.
Although the group is based in Torquay, their confidential telephone helpline is national,
07476 15 17 17. It is open Sunday, Monday and Wednesday (except 1st Wednesday of every month) from 6pm – midnight. For more information visit: www.transfigurations.co.uk

We wish all involved with Arm in Arm every success with their ongoing monthly meetings. We certainly enjoyed an excellent launch event! Thank you for inviting us.