What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
I can’t achieve anything until I’ve had at least one cup of tea! I’m not really a morning person and there is usually a significant gap between ‘asleep’ and ‘awake’ while I wait for the tea to kick in.
What inspired you to start your business?
It all goes back to 2009 when I worked in a mainstream youth centre and there was a worrying trend of homophobic language being used, often ‘quite casually’ and on a daily basis. To challenge this, I launched an LGBT+ history month event that led me to campaigning for and initiating a local LGBT+ youth club which we launched in 2010.
I have been managing the Gap youth club ever since and last year we reached a point where the level of need had grown significantly just at a time when local authorities were having to make significant savings. We launched Free2B Alliance because we were passionate about continuing and expanding our work, to reach more LGBT+ young people, support parents and provide LGBT+ inclusivity training to schools, colleges and employers.
For me personally, the inspiration comes from seeing the positive impact we have in supporting individuals and the amazing transformations we see in their confidence.
What does a typical day involve?
Once the tea has started to take effect, a typical day at the moment centres around grant funding applications. I am either writing applications or searching for new grants and checking we meet the criteria. We are also working on a Big Lottery funded project at the moment, developing LGBT+ awareness training with our youth and parent members. That can be really varied and fun – trying out ‘training activities’ that the members have come up with.
How do you promote yourself?
As a relatively new organisation we are always looking for new ways to get our name out there. We use Twitter, Facebook and blog via our website and we already had a local support network via the youth club which we are expanding with new contacts. Most recently we had a Free2B Alliance stall at London Pride which was amazing!
What do you find most enjoyable about having your own business?
I enjoy doing something I am passionate about. It’s hard work and as we’re a new organisation we have limited funds, so at the moment all of my time is voluntary, but it’s absolutely worth it.
Most memorable moment?
I have been lucky enough to have had so many amazing experiences including travelling and living overseas. But my ‘most memorable’ has to be my wedding day – not least because I was always vehemently ‘anti’ the 3 Ms in life: Mortgage, Marriage & Motherhood (4 Ms if you include Marmite which should be banned). I didn’t believe in the idea of soulmates until I met mine and even once I got engaged I didn’t think I would be too bothered by the actual wedding. My original plan was to get a ‘nice outfit’ from Marks & Spencer or Debenhams so it was a surprise to everyone including me that I ending up in a proper big frock at a posh fancy wedding!
There are so many things I like, photography, arts and crafts, fossils (random I know!), gardening, cooking – and eating,a good HBO box set or film night and dogs. Oh and a slightly concerning fascination with serial killers….
I don’t like people who are lazy, people who tell blatant lies and people who are late – though I am at risk of becoming ‘constantly late’ myself due to Southern Rail – who are a current major dislike.
I hate injustice and discrimination in any form – I have a somewhat naïve notion that people should just be nice to each other. I find the level of hatred some people carry towards others deeply distressing.
This is a tricky one to answer because I didn’t really have a single, specific childhood dream. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and had lots of different ideas and random passions that would last all of 5 minutes before I’d move on to the next one…
For more information visit Free2B’s website