NHS Kernow director named Stonewall Senior Champion of the Year for the South West


A director at NHS Kernow has received a top award for her work in LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Helen Childs was presented with the Stonewall Senior Champion of the Year award for the South West at a reception last week. (Wednesday)

The event comes after the lesbian, bi, gay and trans equality charity announced its list of Top 100 LGBT-inclusive employers for 2020.

The Top 100 is the UK’s definitive list ranking employers from across public, private and third sectors on how LGBTQ+ inclusive their workplaces are and is intensely competitive. 

It was the first year NHS Kernow submitted to be part of the list and was ranked 245 out of 503 employers, scoring 71.5 out of a possible 200. Stonewall said  that this was a great achievement for the clinical commissioning group’s  first submission.

The former nurse was given the title after sharing her personal story with colleagues about the experiences of an LGBT person and her reflections on the Stonewall LGBTQ+ Leadership Programme. Her story was shared nationally by Stonewall through the NHS Kernow website and was heaped with praise. Read Helen's story

Her words have led to new and more inclusive ways of thinking and working within the organisation.

Colleagues have also said that after reading her story they feel they can speak more freely and openly about their sexuality and broader protected characteristics, and any issues they might have while at work.

She said: “I was inspired to tell my personal story after a colleague shared her reflections in our staff newsletter and intranet. Her words had such an impact on me and I felt that as an executive director within NHS Kernow I really needed to step up and be a role model so that other people feel they can be themselves at work.”

The system director for integrated communities added: “I was surprised and very honoured to receive the award from such as respected organisation as Stonewall for my part in NHS Kernow’s continuing journey to improve equality and diversity in the workplace. Personally, this award is very very special and I am so grateful for the support of colleagues.

“I was really delighted that in our first year of making a submission into the Top 100 we gained this benchmark and I look forward to see how we continue to improve and show that we mean business and provide the very best support to our colleagues.”

Helen was joined at the ceremony by Rachel Tofts, a personal assistant at NHS Kernow, who became one of the organisation’s first Stonewall allies.

Rachel signed up to the Stonewall Workplace Allies programme, which supports non-LGBTQ+individuals to create an inclusive environment for everyone, last year.

She said: “Helen is an inspiration to the LGBTQ community.”

Stonewall research shows that one in seven LGBT employees (14 per cent) don’t feel able to be themselves at work and almost one in five LGBT people (18 per cent) have experienced discrimination when applying for jobs because of their identity. 

Sanjay Sood-Smith, Stonewall’s executive director of Workplace and Community Programmes, said: “All of the organisations and individuals recognised in last night’s event are playing a huge role in improving the lives of LGBT people, and should be very proud of their work.  

"We still don't live in a world where everyone is able to be themselves in the workplace, as we know more than a third of LGBT staff (35 per cent) hide who they are at work. By taking steps to make their workplaces supportive and welcoming of all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, these organisations are bringing us closer to a world where everyone is accepted without exception."

Full results of the Top 100 Employers list can be found online