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The Navajo Merseyside and Cheshire LGBTIQA Charter Mark is an equality mark supported by LGBTI community networks across Merseyside and Cheshire.

Gaining the institutional Charter Mark is an indication of good practice, commitment and knowledge of the specific needs, issues and barriers facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. By gaining the Charter Mark, the University becomes part of the Navajo community, working with other organisations to support and promote LGBT+ rights. The University of Chester is one of only two universities in the region to receive it.

Around a year ago, Kathryn Leighton, Human Resources Manager – Development and Diversity at the University, liaised with the Staff LGBT+ Group about gaining recognition for all the work they and other colleagues do to support LGBT+ staff and students. They wanted to acknowledge the excellent practice being embedded within the University and also to help form a strategic action plan to make further improvements. Amy Lacamp from the Staff LGBT+ group explained: “We wanted to achieve the Charter Mark to show our customers and stakeholders that the University is dedicated to LGBT+ inclusion and that we are a leading employer and place of study in this respect.”

Group members Sandra Hopkins and Ian Sudlow-McKay attended last year’s awards and were so impressed with the range of organisations that were involved that they recommended the University apply for the Navajo Charter Mark. Kathryn Leighton and Amy Lacamp led on the substantial written stage of the application and a range of staff at all levels in the University and students were interviewed and consulted at stage two within the two part application process. 

Sandra and Amy were pleased to not only accept the award on behalf of the University but to also be commended by Tony Griffin (Chair of the Navajo Partnership) who was impressed by the excellent application and commitment to equality and diversity. Many organisations apply to gain the Charter Mark and it is only awarded to organisations who have met the required level of quality and practice. 

Sandra, who is a Senior Lecturer in the University’s Centre for Work Related Studies, said: “We are one of two universities in the region to have the Charter Mark and are part of a small group of educational institutions to have this award. It means a lot as it recognises the hard work and activism done by staff above and beyond their day jobs to fully embed these changes into practice and make the organisation a more inclusive and accepting place.”

Ian added: “The University has a strategic action plan to continue enhancing our excellent practice and working towards making the University a place of choice for LGBT+ staff and students. We want to work collaboratively with our local, national and international partners.”

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