Hertfordshire County Council raises the rainbow flag with ‘Pride’ and solidarity
Herts Pride is a ticketed event in Cassiobury Park, Watford, tomorrow (Saturday)
Hertfordshire County Council is committed to positively promoting diversity and inclusion within its workforce and across the delivery of its services.
As such there will be a flag raising ceremony and sponsorship of the health and wellbeing tent at Herts Pride this year supported by the work and solidarity of over 600 allies in the staff LGBT+ network.
Colleagues in Hertfordshire County Council’s LGBT+ staff network, along with UNISON Hertfordshire, have organised for the rainbow flag to be flown at County Hall with a flag raising event in the theme of solidarity, today (Friday, August 13) at County Hall in Hertford, flying until Monday, August 16.
Hertfordshire County Council has once again sponsored the health and wellbeing tent at Herts Pride, a ticketed event in Cassiobury Park, Watford, tomorrow (Saturday, August 14), welcoming the opportunity to provide support to those attending.
Stall holders will include the Hertfordshire County Council’s Adoption Service, Change Grow Live and The Living Room (Drug and Alcohol Services), Age UK, University of Hertfordshire, Services for Young People, Fire and Rescue, Sexual Health Hertfordshire, Terrence Higgins Trust, and Domestic Abuse Services.
Although London Pride this year has been cancelled, Herts Pride is going ahead thanks to work by Pride and other colleagues to ensure it will be as Covid safe as possible.
The Health Protection Board, a multi-agency board responsible for Covid outbreak management, chaired by the Director of Public Health agreed to provide some funding to support the event at the request of Watford and Three Rivers Councils.
Herts Pride provides a welcome opportunity to celebrate the LGBT+ community, and also encourages a chance to reflect on some of the barriers to equality that remain in our society.
Whilst the national picture shows reporting of hate crimes against LGBT+ people are on the increase, colleagues at Hertfordshire County Council have come together as a strong network of allies to visibly demonstrate solidarity.
Jim McManus, Director of Public Health at Hertfordshire County Council said: “Being able to be who you are at work and home is important for your health, and a basic right, whoever you are.
"Our best gift to each other and ourselves is to be able to respect others for who they are. That includes LGBT+ staff and Hertfordshire residents.
"That’s why we’ll be raising the Pride flag publicly this year. That’s why we support our LGBT+ staff with pride and dignity.
"That’s why our services will do their bit to include, support and celebrate ALL our residents and staff in ALL their diversity.”
In a recent report from Galop, the LGBT+ anti-violence charity, three in five LGBT+ people experiencing hate crime want and need help, but only one in five are able to access any support.
Those without access to support feel “let down”, “alone”, and “ignored”, which often increases the impact of the violence and abuse experienced.
It also quoted that Home Office figures show LGBT+ hate crime has grown at double the rate of other forms of hate crime for the last two years.
Cllr Annie Brewster, Acting Platinum Jubilee Chairman at Hertfordshire County Council and a local Justice of the Peace who will be leading the flag-raising said: “It is concerning to learn sexual orientation hate crime has risen in the past year.
"We are resolutely committed to stamping out any discrimination, endeavouring to make Hertfordshire a safe and inclusive “County of Opportunity” for all its residents.
"In working together, I urge those impacted by any form of hate crime to report incidents, however small, to the police or to a third-party reporting centre such as the Terrence Higgins Trust, Galop or Herts Young Pride.
"We want to be an example others will follow, coming back together after the Pandemic, as an informed, inclusive and respectful society.”
One key opportunity for Hertfordshire County Council to make a difference is through its staff, and their LGBT+ ally scheme which aims to foster a more visible supportive environment for LGBT+ people in Hertfordshire.
An ‘ally’ is a colleague who pledges to be a visible supporter and advocate for LGBT+ staff, and they identify themselves by wearing a rainbow-coloured ID lanyard.
Now in its second year, the scheme boasts upwards of 600 allies, and the good news is the scheme seems to be working - it’s clear new and existing colleagues welcome the sight of so many rainbow lanyards in the workplace.
Ryan, a project manager at Hertfordshire County Council said: “I joined HCC in November and during my induction noticed the amount of rainbow lanyards around the council building and visible on Teams meetings.
"As a member of the LGBTQ+ community it was incredibly reassuring to know I was entering a workplace which valued inclusivity and allyship and assured me that I had made a great decision in joining HCC.
"By using the lanyards in the workplace it has made me to feel valued, included and able to be open with colleagues which has made the environment feel a much safer place than I have previously encountered.
"It also helped during remote working to build up relationships with likeminded individuals and continue being able to show allyship whilst not being able to meet in person.”