Name: Philippa Thomas
Organisation: Jewish Care
Role (Voluntary, Trustee, Staff): Head of Customer Engagement, Quality and Customer Experience
What does being part of Jewish Care mean to you?
I’m very lucky that in my job I see feedback from so many people who talk about how our services have had a hugely positive impact on them and their loved ones. People who have found themselves isolated, in a care crisis, or facing bereavement, and who tell us our staff and volunteers’ kindness, care and compassionate support has made a real difference. It’s a great privilege to be part of an organisation which cares for people at some of the most sensitive times in life.
What does being part of the LGBTQI+ community/an ally working towards a more inclusive Jewish community mean to you and your organisation?
I’m really proud of lots of things about Jewish Care. In terms of LGBT+ inclusion, a real watershed moment for me was back in June 2019 when I walked into our Senior Managers’ Forum on the 30th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising to find a rainbow flag version of our logo up on the projector. We hadn’t done that before, and to me the message it sent could not have been clearer or more welcoming; and nor could the enthusiasm of the response. We kept the logo like that on our social media for the whole of Pride Week. The signal to the community and to all our staff and supporters was unwavering, and I am enormously proud to work in an organisation which is so clear on its commitment to inclusion.
We’ve also launched an internal Equality Diversity and Inclusion programme, “Feel Free to Be You”, with a Workplace forum to engage staff across our workforce in its development. It’s great to see people participating in that. Personally I believe that inclusion is always a continual process: for as long as prejudice exists we need to educate and challenge, and we should never be complacent. So for me both as an individual and as an out senior manager, I am very conscious of striving to be the best possible role model to colleagues, and hope to give people confidence they can advance in the organisation whatever their sexuality or gender identity. I am looking forward to working with colleagues as we develop more ways to support our clients, colleagues and volunteers to celebrate all aspects of their diversity.
Who is your LGBTQI+ role model and what have you learnt from them?
I’m going to go for a number of people rather than one. From the original Polari speakers, the Campaign for Homosexual Equality through the Gay Liberation Front and the first Pride marchers, through to the campaigning charity Stonewall and on to all the legal victories which have been so hard fought for; every person who has campaigned, advocated, and worked for equality in law and in society has led change and inspired others, sometimes with considerable risk to themselves. I have learnt from them the importance of patience, persistence and integrity; and to believe in the power to change society through education, engagement, and humanity.