I would like to let you know of my intention to leave SAYiT at the end of June 2020.
It has been a difficult decision to make, but I am leaving the organisation safe in the knowledge that it is staffed by inspiring, professional and committed individuals and governed by exceptional Trustees.
The incredible support from friends, allies and funders has enabled the charity to build on its strong foundations and to welcome through its doors even more marginalised young LGBT+ people. The reputation, the profile and the scope of the charity have grown immeasurably in the past few years – and this is in no small part due to the support from so many people. I am particularly delighted at the work which has been done to amplify the voices of young people and meet the needs of LGBT+ young people with special educational needs. I am proud of the work the charity has done across South Yorkshire to raise awareness of LGBT+ Domestic Abuse and improve the response of services. The working partnerships we have established in the region as a result of this work has been phenomenal. I have also been privileged and humbled to work with the family of Noah Lomax, a young gay man who tragically took his own life. It was in part hearing about Noah’s experiences which sowed the seed for the work we now offer to young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Moreover, due to the dedication, determination and support of Noah’s family we now have a fund established within the charity which enables us to purchase specialist counselling for our LGBT+ young people. All these developments have been achieved at a time of austerity, reduced public services and growing hostility towards LGBT+ communities – and in particular greater intolerance towards young transgender people.
SAYiT’s work is needed as much as it ever has been and the time feels right for someone new to lead the organisation. The last four years have been both hugely rewarding and challenging – in equal measures. I am convinced that the highly skilled staff team we have now recruited and the higher profile SAYiT currently enjoys will ensure the charity strives for, and achieves, even greater things.
I feel confident in the succession planning which has been agreed between myself and trustees; a meticulous plan which ensures staff and young people are meaningfully engaged throughout the process as well as guaranteeing the right person is appointed as CEO.
I sincerely hope that you will continue to support the new CEO, staff and the vital work that SAYiT does.
I will keep you posted of developments and let you know as soon as a new CEO is recruited.
I may be leaving SAYiT but my commitment to LGBT+ rights and the rights of marginalised young people remains as important to me as ever. And my support for the great work of SAYiT will never diminish.
My future plans include continuing to campaign for justice and equality for LGBT+ people at a time when the rights we have achieved seem more under threat than ever. It saddens me deeply to see that the rights of transgender people continue to be particularly threatened by ignorance, bigotry and hatred. I am – and I will remain – an ally for transgender people who I have witnessed facing the most shocking and unimaginable abuse and discrimination over the past few years.
I also plan to ensure that long overdue recognition is given locally to the gay rights campaigner, environmentalist and women’s rights and social justice campaigner, Edward Carpenter. Through my work with Friends Of Edward Carpenter it is hoped that we will see a piece of public art erected in Sheffield in the next couple of years. I am delighted that the world renowned artist Maggi Hambling has agreed to accept the commission. It is my hope that SAYiT and young people will be involved in this development. It is vital that young people will know that there were gay campaigners fighting for LGBT+ rights and the rights of other marginalised communities over a century ago. They, and we, all need more positive role models in our lives.
Thank you for your support on what has been an amazing journey.