“Pride month is a great reminder to others to value people without judgement and to accept everyone for who they are.” – Donna’s Pride month blog


Forensic services staff member Donna shared her story, from chairing the LGBT+ staff network to showing highland cows, to mark June’s Pride month.

Hello, my name is Donna and I am a mental health nurse and ward manager.

Since I started at the Trust in September 2005, I’ve always worked in secure forensic services. In 2008 I left the Trust but saw the light and came back to a promotion in 2010.

When I did my nurse training the push was to go into acute nursing roles, but I wanted something different. In forensics you have a chance to get to know the patient as they stay for a prolonged period of time. This allows staff to connect with people in a really thorough way; we build therapeutic relationships, and it is really rewarding to help people reach their maximum potential and live well. Forensics is a safe environment as we constantly risk assess service users, ensuring they receive appropriate support whilst they are with us. There is a strong team atmosphere within our forensic services and I really enjoy my work.

Personally, I came out to my family and friends in 2003. University gave me the freedom to be myself and embrace who I am. All my friends accepted my news and we just laughed and joked about it together. Within my immediate family, it took some relatives longer than others to accept my sexuality but I’ve never had any negativity. I’ve been with my partner for 16 years. In my spare time, I have a fairly unusual hobby which was inspired by my mum’s decision to take on a retirement hobby: she started breeding highland cows. I helped and showed the little ones but now I’ve got my own fold of highland cows. I’ll be showing them again this summer. All the cows have got their own names and show names and individual personalities.

White cow wearing rainbow tie
Donna’s show highland cow, Duke

At work, I’ve been chair of the LGBT+ steering group since 2019. During the pandemic, the group struggled, but since then we have slowly built up the network and now have six members on the steering group. We offer staff various forms of support. We run an informal virtual monthly drop-in session, where people can raise any issues and chat about anything they want to discuss.

The LGBT+ network offers staff support and answers any queries. As membership of the network grows, there’s a bank of knowledge and support for people to access. We maintain a confidential network and welcome all to the membership; we feel allies can offer a lot to the LGBT population. Recently, a patient wanted to come out as transgender – we were able to advise the staff member on where to refer to them for support with their transition.

We ask staff to make a pledge for LGBT+ rainbow lanyards and badges, which helps to increase visibility and allows patients to approach staff with LGBT+ queries and issues. It indirectly helps to improve patient care and experience, as they know there are LGBT+ staff around who can offer them appropriate support.

We sign up LGBT+ allies to the network, who wear a rainbow lanyard and badges and offer support to LGBT+ colleagues.

Pride month has made me reflect that while we have achieved so much through the network and across the Trust there is still more work to do to create a fully inclusive atmosphere and culture. Sadly microaggressions towards LGBT+ staff members sometimes still take place in the workplace.

Over the past four years I’ve personally faced homophobia in the workplace. I don’t feel we always recognise how homophobia impacts on those who witness it: it can upset others who have LGBT+ family members/friends. Homophobic incidents create a bad atmosphere for everyone. Thankfully we have ways we can report incidents, making it feel like a safe and supportive place to work. I would encourage anyone from the LGBT+ community to look to our Trust as a place to work, it is a great place to be. And for those who already work here, come and join our staff network. You won’t regret it.

Pride month brings equality front and centre to people’s attention. The month is about raising awareness about LGBT+ history and the current challenges we face to gain acceptance in society. We are all human, everyone matters. Recently, I watched a video about some gay older women who are based in Hebden Bridge. It was a proper eye opener. The video made me rethink things as a gay woman and realise the hurdles these women have overcome. Everyone has a story about how they have fought to get to where they are. We take our freedoms for granted but the video made me think.

Personally, I once had a bad experience when I was on a social night out. I never thought that would happen. From that negative experience, good things followed – the experience prompted me to join the LGBT+ network so that I can make a change. Sometimes, we can be sheltered in LGBT+ venues and community groups but the world has got a long way to go to make society equitable for everyone.  Pride month is a great reminder to others to value people without judgement and to accept everyone for who they are. We can only really do that if we allow ourselves to be open with others about ourselves; I know its hard to be open but I encourage others reading this blog to take the step to allow themselves to be known to others.

Within the Trust, we’ve been running an initiative called #AllOfYou with the aim of creating a culture of transparency, openness and trust. Everyone is encouraged to disclose their protected characteristics on our staff record and on equality monitoring forms, so that the Trust knows its workforce and can offer appropriate support to individuals and teams of people.  Please do take the time to update your profile and take this important step to help us to continue to create a positive and open environment within the Trust.

This Pride month, I would encourage you to think about how you can offer support to LGBT+ colleagues – if you’re a member of staff and would like to sign up as an ally or join our network, please contact: LGBT@swyt.nhs.uk.


“Pride month is a great reminder to others to value people without judgement and to accept everyone for who they are.” – Donna’s Pride month blog

time to read: 4 min