Stonewall statement on the Diversity Champions programme

Over the last few months there has been some incorrect information in the press about Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme and so they have put this statement together to answer any questions that might have raised.

If you have any questions you would like to raise regarding this statement or our partnership with stonewall please contact

Free to be Strategy 2021-25

Stonewall stand for all lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and ace (LGBTQ+) people.

They imagine a world where LGBTQ+ people everywhere are free to be themselves and can live their lives to the full.

They know that, as part of a vibrant global movement for change made up of LGBTQ+ people, allies, families and friends, we will get there. Together.

Their 2021-5 strategy sets out how they will campaign together with their partners and supporters to create the world we imagine.

Stonewall Manchester Workplace Conference 2019

Stonewall Workplace Conferences have become Europe’s leading events on LGBT+ inclusion. Andrew Jurd and Darren Hopkins attended the Manchester conference held on Friday 27th September 2019.

The core of the day...

We had pre selected six workshops to attend, and went our separate ways to cover as many topics as possible!

It was a day for us to be challenged and educated on all LGBT+ representation in the culture and practice of our organisation and give us the tools and confidence to advance LGBT+ inclusion here at Next.

The attendees were from hugely varying workplaces. Retail, healthcare, law & finance, even the ministry of defence, to name a few!

There were inspirational speakers and over 300 delegates. This cross section of people, provided a unique opportunity to learn and share ways to make our organisation inclusive of all LGBT+ staff, allies, suppliers, customers and service users.

The opening speech was a powerful one. Delivered by Sanjay Sood-Smith, Executive Director of Workplace & Community Programmes, Stonewall. This set the agenda for the day, and highlighted the importance of respect, understanding and acceptance across all LGBT+ communities.

I had the privilege of meeting two trans women, Michelle a First Line Manager at Argos/Sainsbury’s and Charlotte a Firefighter for Oxfordshire County Council. These two trans women were incredibly inspirational, I was privileged to be able to listen to their stories.

Michelle was fascinating to talk to, she chatted about growing up, and took us through the earlier years to becoming Michelle. It was very much about self acceptance and finding herself. There were the dark days before growing in confidence as Michelle, taking time to understand how she battled those personal struggles made me feel very humbled and proud of what she has achieved.

When it came to work, Michelle described coming out similar to that of her first day, always a daunting prospect! Sainsbury’s/Argos however, were incredibly supportive and really helped shape the confidence she has today from that moment on. As Michelle would say “the future isn’t written!”

Charlotte’s story involved her input in changing policy and the culture of the Fire Service. Charlotte came out at work to her Station Manager, again receiving some incredible support, including that of the whole team in Oxfordshire.

A Senior Leader visited Charlotte’s station and was taken aback, not knowing how to approach Charlotte, instead deciding not to say anything. Following the visit he wrote a Memo to send out to all the Leaders in the Fire Service informing them all about Charlotte. This was intercepted by Charlotte’s Station Manager, and when he discussed the memo with Charlotte, she was uncomfortable with the approach the Senior Leader was about to take to in effect ‘out’ her to the entire service.

The quick action from her Station Manager stopped this, and began the process of change in relation to policy and culture of the Fire Service. To this day Charlotte is a huge part of this process.

What resonated with me the most was the importance of inclusion in the workplace. A workplace with strong communication and social interaction will help individuals achieve their full potential in a positive and supportive working environment.

Darren Hopkins | HR Business Partner & Pride At Next Committee Member