British Empire Medal for firefighter and LGBT+ champion Charlotte Stacey

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An Oxfordshire firefighter and LGBT+ champion has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year’s Honours for her services to the community.

Oxfordshire County Council Information Services Manager Charlotte Stacey is a diversity and inclusion champion for the council and the county’s fire and rescue service, and a proud advocate for LGBT+ communities and awareness.

She joined the council in 2014 and became an on-call firefighter in 2019. Alongside her day jobs, she established and chaired the council’s LGBT+ colleagues and allies’ network and helped other networks become established.

Charlotte, 43, from Oxford, said: “I am immensely proud to have been awarded this honour as a role model and advocate. Each year at every Pride, celebration, or commemoration, I am reminded of how diverse and resilient our communities are and what a privilege it is to serve them.

“I have embraced every challenge and opportunity to overcome stereotypes and preconceptions. My aim is to build understanding as I’m a strong believer that there is more that unites us than divides us, and we have so much to learn from one another. I seek to educate and share this message with everyone from firefighters to chief officers, administrators to directors, councillors and many more.

“I have been able to help colleagues think about how they approach and make adjustments to better serve our diverse communities, and to be mindful of their situations, for example making our spaces LGBT+ safe and making the fire service visible and approachable to everyone as an inclusive employer.”

Charlotte has also championed change behind the scenes, writing and amending policies to make them more inclusive, promoting challenging and respectful conversations, and putting data into community engagement. Externally, she has built relationships with LGBT+ charities locally and nationally, supporting Prides in Oxfordshire and beyond.

“I’m so proud of what has been achieved in Oxfordshire,” she added. “Annually celebrating LGBT+ History Month; marking International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia with a display of young LGBT+ people’s artwork; and attending several Pride events with Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, side by side with LGBT+ colleagues, families and allies.”

Charlotte’s goal is to reduce fear and misunderstanding and broaden inclusion.

“I’m very conscious that letters and labels don’t do justice to the spectrum of sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. We still have a great challenge to embrace one another’s unique identities and characteristics.”

She is also keen to tackle hate crime, and make sure that people are not complacent.

“I have been attacked twice since moving to Oxford and was very well supported by Thames Valley Police. So, from a personal perspective, despite how frightening it may be, I actively promote standing up and speaking out, using, for example, to register incidents, and educating and empowering active allies.”

Oxfordshire’s Chief Fire Officer Rob MacDougall said: “We are thrilled that Charlotte is receiving this award in recognition of her work. She has been instrumental in driving forward the LGBT+ agenda within our fire and rescue service, nationally in the fire and rescue sector, and across Oxfordshire County Council.

“Her commitment has been driven by a desire to ensure that LGBT+ communities have a voice, whether this is residents or staff. She lives by this phrase – read more, listen more, ask more, share more, keep learning.”

Councillor Nathan Ley, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Inequalities and Community Safety, said: “We are delighted that Charlotte’s dedication to her community and to Oxfordshire has been recognised.

“The work of Charlotte and her fellow on-call firefighters makes a huge difference to the lives of so many people in our county, and we are all incredibly grateful to them for their commitment and community spirit. In this instance we’re especially proud of Charlotte.”

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