My Equalities Journey

I mentioned a few days ago about a blog entry I did at work ahead of Surrey Pride, and thought I would reproduce it here as its a piece of writing I’m proud of – both for its message and for the impact it has had at work:

The summer has been and seemingly gone in a flash, but despite the disruptions to all our lives under the pandemic the spirit of celebration so intrinsic to our wellbeing is alive and well. Pride Month saw colour and life splashed everywhere this year – and yet we were still constrained by the need to look out for each other, so marches and celebrations were delayed until a little later.

Well, that later is now here, and Surrey Pride is being celebrated on Saturday 25 September in glorious Godalming. Representatives of SCC will join charities and local groups in an explosion of positivity and joy, demonstrating the vibrant lives and history in Surrey of the LGBTQIA+ community. Struggles past, present, and future are acknowledged through the day in offers of support, representation, and a celebration of our ability to live freely as our genuine selves. For some it’s a path they’ve trod for years, for others it’s an exploration that is only just beginning.

My journey through various local authorities has always had a focus in some way, shape, or form on equality and diversity. It has been part of the pleasure of working in our environment. It has evolved with different roles and the language of different decades from being a customer-focused approach in libraries; to undertaking impact assessments on projects and policies as a project manager and senior officer, and then back again to different levels of operating back with the library service as I re-joined it nearly nine years ago.

The two streams of my journey, especially in recent years, have been the intertwined demands of the personal and the professional aspects of my life and how EDI has both informed and shone light on the changes and challenges in both areas.

On the personal side has been my own changing self-awareness and the ups and downs of coming out as a bisexual and polyamorous man to friends, family, and co-workers. My life continues to grow and evolve as I meet and talk to an amazing array of people in my widening and changing personal and professional networks in ways that I couldn’t imagine even a handful of years ago. I am in a relationship with an amazing trans man, whose humour, bravery, and frustrations have cast new light on things that I took for granted. He has made me look again at my assumptions and privileges, and that in turn has given me the strength to stand up for and represent the people around me with renewed passion and love.

On the professional side has been the shift from embedding a passion for equality and diversity in delivering customer services – to provide the best possible outcomes for anyone entering the library or using its services – to then providing leadership and promotion within branches as a manager. From there it grew and now I am an exemplar and champion of EDI within my group of libraries both in my own right and as part of the LGBTQ+ Staff Network. As a newly appointed Group Manager, it is even more important to me to uplift and inspire the managers who work for me to lead and promote equalities, diversity, and inclusion in the services that we provide and the staff and public with whom we work.

Some of my greatest joys have come from the recognition that my being out and visible has given other people inspiration and reassurance in their own lives. From staff to customers, partners and friends, there have been quiet affirmations and moments of challenge and reflection – all of which are brought back into conversation and debate and the direction of efforts to be better in how I work to uplift, educate, inform, and celebrate the richness of the lives upon which I have an impact.

Times are tough, but things can always improve. Things will get better. Nobody has all the answers, but if we keep talking and listening – and challenging – we can keep moving towards making things better – not just for ourselves but with and for everyone.

Pride is about support and visibility, and here at Surrey County Council we are as much part of that as anyone else. Our diverse staff is drawn from all the communities who live and work here. The SCC LGBTQ+ Staff Network will be attending the march, representing our staff and families, and will have stalls in the event itself.

If you have any questions around the event – or indeed anything else – then please get in touch. Whether it’s a personal issue, or advice for yourself or your staff, we’ll listen and answer. Together we are all stronger.

Game Prep and Blog Updates

I’m enjoying a lovely day off while the rest of the world outside my window is drenched in rain. I’ve even been productive: I did the washing up, emptied the bins, took out the recycling, and did the shopping. I’m justified in spending the rest of the day making up encounters then. That’s not a question.

What it has prompted me to do has been to get round to starting to update the pages on this blog relating to the DDC – Well That Happened… You might notice there’s a new entry on the main menu at the top of the page that takes you to the related pages – expect more to appear there soon, but today has seen an updated transcript of Valenia’s letters home which detail their view of various sessions, as well as additions to the notable characters page.

Now to do a couple more maps to have to hand if the group goes off piste tomorrow and I’ll be ready to go.

Proud Blog-Father

My daughter has been in lockdown in Oxford Brookes University since everything kicked off, and like so many of us has been trying new things out on the cooking front.

Today I had a quick note and link to an article she just had published on the Oxford Brookes Student Union website about her “student-approved” baking recipes.

Being a proud father to a fellow writer, I of course have to share this with you all. Go have a look at https://www.brookesunion.org.uk/articles/student-approved-quarantine-baking-student-blog and enjoy both the quality of writing and the baked goods.

Ko-Fi Time

As much out of curiosity as anything else, I’ve set up a Ko-fi.com account for anyone who wants to fling us a handful of change in return for anything they’ve liked seeing here. It’s purely voluntary of course, and I’ll be frankly amazed if anyone does – but the link is www.ko-fi.com/timmaidment if you’d like to do a little bit towards supporting me in my odd little corner

Seven Years Gone

Someone asked me how I first started this blog: with an introduction to myself, or just launching into it. I couldn’t remember so I’ve just spent about five minutes scrolling back in the app on my phone to have a look.

It turns out that on the 23rd September 2010, the first post on this blog was:

*dips toe into the blogosphere and nods when nothing immediately falls off*

So there we go, seven years of my waffling into the darkness here. Doesn’t time fly?

Changes Are A-Coming

This site has always been a labour of love – with all the ups and downs that go with that statement. Well shortly I shall be gathering help on that front, with opportunities for Lady M and Mre B to contribute as guest bloggers as the mood, wit and whimsy takes them.

For the most part it’s likely to be extra bits of fiction as we bounce things off each other, but who knows? This, as they say, could get rather interesting…

How Do You Deal with Stupidity? by Tim Maidment

So here’s a little thing I wrote for Lady M’s blog last month, published this month…

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This, sadly, really is a question that Lady M seems to be asked on a frequent basis, often by work colleagues. No, really, would I lie to you? It’s obviously a joke right? I mean, at first sight it’s a simple enough question, and one that is mostly posed with tongue at least slightly in cheek.

Unless she is faced with unequivocal evidence of it, her usual response is to ask how the enquirer is defining stupidity. With perhaps only a few conversational prompts, this is frequently sufficient to tie her interrogators up in semantic ribbons and bows long enough for her to walk away long before the penny drops.

We all know stupidity when we see it, at least right up until the point we don’t. I think that’s because our own incompetencies blind us to our deficiencies – it’s at the root of the old joke about how…

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Fiction Fragment Updates

I’m in the process of typing up fiction fragments and adding them to the page here. They’re mostly one or two sentence pieces done as block breakers or to remind me of a random idea during the day, but most have made me smile at some point so I thought I’d share.

I’m mostly doing this as part of my drive to get back into the habit of writing here – both as a blog, as a depository of game write-up material, and for the wider fiction and non-fiction that I do.

Enjoy the whimsy

Visitor Statistics

Out of sheer curiosity, I thought I’d take a look at the visitor statistics for the site. Since adopting a more regular posting schedule we’ve nearly doubled the page views here since last year to 6754 as of time of writing.

This is a huge leap, and while it may feel small beans, it’s truly impressive considering this is mostly just me wittering away to myself in the corner.

Not only that, but the number of individual visitors for this year is only 300 short of the total number of page views for last year. 3360 people have been curious enough to come take a look around this year. Thank you all very much, whether you’re human, bot, household pet, or extremely unlucky extraterrestrial. What on earth are you all doing here?

For all that, there’s only been 30 (moderated) comments on the site. I’ve had a few on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and G+ where the links to these posts appear and it seems people are happier commenting there.

I’m obviously not particularly contentious, so perhaps I should start writing the occasional deliberately contrary post to see who I can tempt out of the woodwork. Or not; I’ve enough going on without manufacturing drama among those who “have read your blog”…

So there we are, a bit dry, but I’ll no doubt ruminate more nearer the end of the year. Good night, and may the stats be ever in your favour.

Cheering From The Sidelines

Lady M has been busy this week – just one way I can tell she’s on the heal at last. She’s been laying the groundwork for a little while for a project that is very close to her heart. It’s called Today’s Women In Tomorrow’s Technology, and as of this week the blog and twitter components have gone live.

At the heart of her project is a desire to inspire, guide, mentor and bring new and existing women together working in the Technology industry. She’s already gathering attention and support – and I think that in part it is a case of the right idea, at the right time, that is capturing people’s imaginations.

She’s asked me to write a guest spot on there in the near future – but don’t let that put you off. Go take a look, and engage if you like the ideas or want to be part of a wider discussion.