A message from our departing CEO, Steve Slack….
Dear colleague, friend or supporter of SAYiT, sadly I will be leaving SAYiT on Wednesday July 22nd. The position of CEO will be taken over by Heather Paterson. I am delighted with Heather’s appointment and I know that the organisation will go from strength to strength under her quietly determined and inspirational leadership.
The current treasurer of trustees, Helen King, will also be leaving the organisation after 20 years of exceptional service to the charity. Helen will be replaced by Wei-Sheng Lin and Georgina Burns-OConnell who will be sharing the role of treasurer. Helen has been an amazing, kind and committed trustee for over twenty years and SAYiT owes her a great debt. The success of the organisation today is directly attributable to the passion, time and energy which Helen has shown over the past two decades. She has been to me, to SAYiT and to the LGBT+ community of Sheffield a great beacon of light, a determined ally and an unwavering friend.
Helen and I had both originally planned to leave SAYiT earlier in the summer but we agreed with trustees to remain until we felt that we had safely navigated the initial difficulties and disruption brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. I am proud to say that the SAYiT staff team and the trustees responded with the usual professionalism and commitment to the enormous challenges faced. Staff, trustees and volunteers have worked together tirelessly to maintain our vital services. Whilst service provision had to be unavoidably reconfigured in line with government guidance, we have continued to meet the needs of our most vulnerable young people.
I know that you will continue to support SAYiT and its vital programmes of work – work which will undoubtedly become even more imperative in the aftermath of this period of lockdown which has impacted so significantly on the mental health of our young people. I have absolute belief in the work and the ability and commitment of the staff team, trustees and volunteers to continue to provide much needed, high calibre and exceptional services. I have also been hugely impressed and reassured by the recruitment of new trustees to the charity who will bring renewed vision, fresh ideas and diverse life experiences to the Board, complementing, supporting and enhancing the excellent work of existing trustees.
I know that Helen and I both feel that with the new CEO and treasurers we leave SAYiT safe in the knowledge that it is in exceptionally good hands.
Our priority as an organisation has always been to ensure that we recruit and mobilise the right staff with the necessary skills and values to provide exceptional services for young LGBT+ people in Sheffield. I am proud to say that we have a team of workers who are all committed to delivering high quality and professional services to our young people. The team’s ability to respond creatively, courageously and flexibly to the complex needs of young LGBT+ people (complexities which have increased significantly during Covid 19) have certainly been put to the test during the past few weeks.
For me personally the last four and a half years have been both immensely rewarding and challenging – in equal measures. But it has been hugely gratifying to witness the higher profile SAYiT now enjoys and its growing influence and impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable young people in our society.
I am confident that the new CEO along with the staff team we have now recruited will ensure the charity strives for, and achieves, even greater things. I feel proud, too, of the work we have all undertaken to ensure the voice of marginalised young LGBT+ people is amplified and I know that this work will continue to flourish under Heather’s leadership.
Heather brings with her an exceptional wealth of experience within the LGBT+ arena. She has worked with LGBT+ groups, campaigns and projects in Sheffield for the past two decades, and more broadly with youth, women’s, equality and social justice organisations. Throughout her professional career she has championed LGBT+ equality and inclusion in settings across the voluntary and charitable sector, as well as within statutory bodies; developing strong relationships with local organisations and communities. Heather is no stranger to SAYiT and in the past year has been working with us on the hugely successful domestic abuse project, ‘Call It Out’. I wish her well in her new role.
I may be leaving SAYiT but my work and commitment to supporting and promoting the rights of the most marginalised young people in our society will continue. There is still much to do to protect and advance the rights of LGBT+ young people and in particular the rights of transgender young people and LGBT+ young people of colour. We cannot allow the voices of transphobes and racists to bully us into silence. I may no longer be CEO of SAYiT, a position I held with great pride and humility. But I will continue to be an ally of LGB and Transgender people, those who identify as Queer, people of colour and all those who are increasingly marginalised and disadvantaged in this unequal society of ours.
Finally, many sincere thanks to all of you for your support and for allowing me the opportunity to go on what has been an amazing journey. Without the unwavering and generous support of so many of you the organisation would cease to exist. It has been a huge pleasure and a privilege to work with so many of you and to work alongside such inspirational staff, trustees, volunteers and amazing young people and parents over the past years. I have been very fortunate – and I will always remain indebted to you all. Thank you.
Best wishes and much love.