Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Pushing for equality progress at emergency services IDAHOBIT event

Essex’s emergency services are coming together tomorrow to push for LGBTQ+ equality progress as part of an IDAHOBIT event.

IDAHOBIT stands for the ‘International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia’ which is a globally recognised date falling on 17 May every year. 

This date was selected to mark the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseased of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990. Since this time, the movement has gained momentum globally and is observed in many businesses and sectors. 

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, the Essex Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Essex Police and the East of England Ambulance Service are holding a joint conference at the fire service headquarters at Kelvedon Park. It will be attended by around 80 people in person as well as being online for 150 virtual delegates.

It is the second time, the services have come together to organise a collaborative event which is being hosted by Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Jane Gardner.

Jane said: “This is a great conference and one I am proud to be able to support. We all have the right to bring our true selves to work and it is important that all our emergency services understand and reflect the breadth of people across the communities we serve. This event is an opportunity to build greater understanding, share experiences and show a commitment to support and encourage our LGBTQ+ colleagues.”

During the day delegates will hear from a range of expert speakers focusing on LGBTQ+ issues as well as taking part in breakout sessions and networking opportunities.

All three leaders of the emergency services are supporting and speaking at the event.

Rick Hylton, Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This will be the second time that our Essex emergency services have come together to recognise and celebrate IDAHOBIT day, which is testament to the ongoing work and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion matters across our services in Essex.

“I want our Service to be one of the best fire and rescue services in the UK. I want all our people to work in a high performing and inclusive environment. It’s what everyone deserves. Being the best means our communities are safe, our partners are supported and engaged, and our people can thrive.

“We can only do this if we stand shoulder to shoulder together. Sometimes there will be difficult moments, but we can keep learning, and keep pushing for progress.”

Essex Police Chief Constable BJ Harrington said: “At Essex Police we genuinely value difference and believe people from all walks of life shape our force and reflect our diverse communities.

“It is only with the support, trust and confidence of all in our community that we can police with their consent to reduce crime and make everybody safer.

“We are proud to honour this day but realise that we, as a society, still have a long way to go in protecting and serving people in the LGBTQ+ community and wider society.

“It is more important than ever to ensure we have the confidence of all communities and victims of crime, in particular where they are affected and targeted because of who they are.

“We co-ordinate a network of 850 hate crime ambassadors and 60 hate incident reporting centres throughout the county, where victims and witnesses can be supported to report hate crimes. They’ll also receive signposting to support groups and, where appropriate, to ensure we investigate crimes where they are committed.

“Remember, you can contact us on 101 or via our online live chat, open every day between 7am-11pm. In an emergency, always call 999. 

“By working together, we can make Essex free from hatred, intolerance and prejudice.”

Tom Abell, Chief Executive of EEAST, said: “We are proud to stand alongside our blue light colleagues to celebrate this important day, show our support for the LGBTQ+ community and raise awareness of the steps we can all take to progress this important agenda.

“At EEAST, we are committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion and eliminating discrimination in all forms so that we can make the Trust a better place to work and receive care. This event gives us the opportunity to learn from each other and share good practice so that we can better support and encourage our LGBTQ+ colleagues and their allies.”

People can follow #IDAHOBIT2022 to engage with the event.

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