Welcome back and welcome to 2021, I hope that the new year so far has been kind to you, although I suspect that for many of us we are in for another long slow haul.
Thanks to Maximillian who kept the home fire burning over the break answering the phones, I know that for some this really was the essential lifeline they needed.
The turning of the year typically brings retrospection with a dose of positivity, an energy as we head on towards summer with increasing daylight and more light peeking into our windows. I’ve seen countless posts on social media looking backwards at 2020 and forwards to 2021 and I’ve loved watching people find their own positive spin on what was undoubtedly an incredibly challenging year. I hope that in your reflecting you found some positives to celebrate.
Here at Chrysalis we are getting much better at celebrating and sharing our achievements, those of you who regularly follow my blog or tap into our social media know that this is the year that we truly capitalised on our drive to embed IT at the heart of our organisation. Our early adoption and development of Office 365 gave us the tools, flexibility and capacity to switch to online working in April, brought us together although we were spread across the country and for the first time ever we were able to provide Chrysalis support to people where ever they were. Some of our group members were thrown back into family situations 100’s of miles away and yet they could continue to attend groups and get counselling. Some people had never been able to access our support before because they simply couldn’t get into the centre of town to attend a group yet now we were streaming into their bedrooms. Volunteers from across the region were able to meet each other for the first time and remote working meant we could welcome staff from Leeds to Portsmouth.
Lockdown brought a new set of challenges to a lot of our members, isolation and loneliness under intense magnification, so we reached out to all of you, to everyone we supported and asked what we could do, in this new and altered reality. Our calls and video chats with so many people kept us all together and for volunteers and group members alike it provided us with a chance to touch base, to say hi and to find out a bit more about each other. Speaking just for myself I’ve loved my chats, a chance to take half an hour out to be with someone else, no pressure, not work, just a chat. A view into someone else’s world, oh and a chance to show off the kittens and Helena.
This year is the year the staff team really came together, it feels as if we are complete now. Building on the solid foundation of those staff members who came before, learning and developing and now we are eight: Dawn, Callum, Maximillian, Carla, Cas, Flis, Kevan and I. Not bad for a small charity but we have big ambitions!
This month we will start working on the business plan, our new board of trustees deserves and expects the best and if there’s one thing that I know we are good at here it’s delivering beyond expectations. A focus on the true purpose of the charity, to support those who are trans, non-binary and questioning, their families and friends. How do we continue to keep on doing what we do and yet also develop what we do? There are so many people out there who need our support, the safety of our groups and our counselling.
March 2021 brings the census – what challenges and opportunities can we expect? I know that I am looking forward to some hard data for the first time ever about how many LGBT+ people there are in this country. The work that the Office for National Statistics has put in to make sure that everyone who wants to answer honestly can, whilst maintaining their own privacy and safety, is impressive. Chrysalis is proud to have been one of the organisations consulted on just how to make the system safe, to reach out to people and to encourage full participation. Data from the census will help us with funding, and with social and political change. If you want to find out more, or are interested in helping Chrysalis support trans* people complete it safely then please do drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking further into the future I see the Progress Pride flag flying high, flying from all our windows, on towers and in schools. I see a world of rainbows, whether virtual or gathered together, socially distanced or perhaps in our small groups.
So welcome all to 2021, I look forward to this new year with you, let us hope that this is the year of authenticity and acceptance and perhaps each in our own way we can make the world a better place.