Introducing the Pride@Babraham network

Introducing the Pride@Babraham network

Introducing the Pride@Babraham network

In 2023, the Babraham Institute established an LGBTQ+ staff network as a way to raise awareness and the profile of LGBTQ+ issues and staff in the workplace, help remove barriers to inclusion and ensure that there are visible role models at different levels of the organisation. The LGBTQ+ Staff Network is open to any employee, student or visitor at the Babraham Institute or on the Babraham Research Campus who identifies as LGBTQ+ or wishes to be an ally to the community.

Chaired by Stephane Guillaume, with Honor Pollard as deputy, the network has started to host events and increase visibility on Campus. Learn more about the network and people behind it in this blog.

What do you do at the Babraham Institute?

Stephane: I’m currently a last-year doctoral candidate with Michelle Linterman, studying immunity in response to lung infections. Life in the lab is definitely never boring, especially as projects develop and grow in unpredictable ways. I have a passion for lab work, and I’m very keen to stay in academia as a post-doctoral researcher.

Honor: I have been the Institute’s Communications Officer for three years now. My job involves all aspects of communications – from writing news and engaging with journalists to running social media accounts and also curating the internal newsletter. I enjoy days where I get to listen to researchers talking about their work and identifying ways to connect their science with the right audience.

What is the purpose of the LGBTQ+ Network at the Institute? How did it come about?

Stephane: The Network started as a grass-roots idea among some of the Babraham PhD students who wanted to be a part of an LGBTQ+ safe space at Babraham, after the collapse of many of the networks during the pandemic. From there, we held small meetings and events, including the LGBTQ+ Pride Month mixer in 2023. As of 2024, we’re now an officially recognised and funded Network of Babraham. From my perspective, the purpose of the Network is to function as a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals to socialise and meet across the entire Campus.

Honor: I think there has been quite a lot said for not just shining a light on LGBTQ+ issues during Pride Month and LGBTQ+ History Month, but keeping a sense of community and support all year round – the network is a part of making that a reality. Elizabeth Wyn, the Institute’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Manager was a great help in getting the network set up, there were some GDPR processes to go through and terms of reference to create, that really helped transform the network into an official part of the Institute. Part of the purpose of the network is to serve its members, at this early stage that really leaves the door open to suggestions!

What do you hope to achieve with the network?

Stephane: My goal with the network is to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ people. With the companies on the Babraham Research Campus so spread out, it can sometimes feel somewhat isolating, so having a queer community can help bring people together and remind them they aren’t alone. I’d love to see the network develop into a strong Babraham-wide community with socialising events and inter-company involvement. I also hope we can bridge the gap between Babraham and queer networks across Cambridge, by organising collaborative events with the Queer in Chemistry (QiCN) and LMB LGBTQ+ societies.

Honor: As well as providing a safe space for LGBTQ+ people, it would be great to see allies engaging with the network as well, especially with any seminars and events we might put on in the future. The Institute currently has an ally pledge that goes along with our lanyards, but hopefully the network is a friendly place for everyone to come to with questions!

What have you done so far, and do you have any plans for the future?

Stephane: We launched with a mixer event for Queer History Month in 2023, and after gaining interest, we created the official network Pride@Babraham. In terms of activities, we’ve organised monthly tea and coffee social mornings open to everyone, an LGBTQ+ Bridging Binaries guided tour of the Cambridge Zoology museum, and an LGBTQ+ themed quiz night, spearheaded by Liv Cracknell. In addition to the LGBTQ+ mixer to celebrate Pride Month 2024, I’m hopeful that we can get more involvement from the LGBTQ+ community across the entire Campus and organise more activities like bake-offs and movie nights. We’re always open to ideas and suggestions for what to organise next!

Honor: I’ve really enjoyed all the social events we’ve organised since the network launched! As well as the fun networking side of things I hope that the network will evolve with the needs of our members and that we can engage with some of the ‘behind the scenes’ elements of the workplace like policies and diversity initiatives to help ensure inclusion is always considered and backed up with lived experience.