ForViva’s McKune appointed to GM Mayor’s LGBT advisory panel

A Manchester housing chief has been appointed to a panel of experts set up to advise GM Mayor Andy Burnham on issues affecting the city region’s LGBT residents.

In a first for Greater Manchester, the Mayor has established the panel to tackle the inequalities lesbian, gay, bi and trans people face. The aim is to ensure they feel “included, valued and safe”.

The panel is intended to reflect the diversity of the LGBT community from across Greater Manchester and is headed by a new LGBT adviser. Former Lord Mayor of Manchester and prominent LGBT activist Carl Austin-Behan has been appointed to this role.

It’s not only a first for Manchester, it’s also thought to be the first panel of its type anywhere in the UK. The LGBT advisor and panel will collaborate with partner agencies, LGBT organisations and individuals across the city region to deliver the Greater Manchester LGBT Action Plan.

The plan was developed by the LGBT Foundation and launched by Burnham last year.

Colette McKune, group deputy chief executive of housing association ForViva, has been appointed to the advisory panel.

“Together we have an amazing opportunity to make a lasting impact for, and working with, the LGBT community in Greater Manchester,” she told Northern Housing. “Everyone deserves to be treated equally, and I look forward to bringing my passion for improved lives and reducing inequality to this role.”

She is joined by fellow panel members Paul Martin, chief executive of LGBT Foundation, one of the UK’s leading LGBT charities; trans civil rights campaigner Christine Burns MBE; Juergen Maier, chief executive of Siemens UK; Director of Pride Sports and Football v Homophobia, Lou Englefield; Wigan & Leigh Green Party chair, Will Patterson; and a range of other LGBT activists and figures from across the conurbation.

GM Mayor appoints new LGBT adviser.
GM Mayor Andy Burnham, LGBT advisor, Carl Austin-Behan, and Councillor Brenda Warrington. Image courtesy of Greater Manchester Combined Authority

“Greater Manchester is known throughout the UK and around the world as a beacon for LGBT people. Let’s not forget that the UK’s LGBT rights movement began in Manchester, and LGBT people make a huge contribution to the success of our city region,” said Burnham, launching the new panel yesterday.

“This is something we should celebrate and cherish, which is why having a new LGBT Adviser and panel is so important. LGBT rights were hard-fought and won, but it is still the case that LGBT people face inequality. We must continue to break down those barriers and build a Greater Manchester that is for all.

“There is such great work going on here already, from the numerous Pride events that take place across the Greater Manchester, to the remarkable Village Angels and Haven programme which helps ensure people have a great night out in our thriving and world-famous Gay Village.

“Last year I signed up to the LGBT Action Plan for Greater Manchester, which commits public bodies, private organisations, voluntary groups and LGBT citizens to work together to improve LGBT lives and this demonstrates my commitment to this shared goal.”

LGBT Advisor, Austin-Behan added: “There are at least 215,000 lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in Greater Manchester – that’s bigger than the population of Rochdale so it is important that they are represented, and their voices are heard.

“By setting up this panel, the Mayor is demonstrating a clear and unambiguous commitment to improving the lives of LGBT people and reducing inequality across the city-region. The panel and I are looking forward to getting to work.”

Greater Manchester Equalities Lead, and Tameside Council leader, councillor Brenda Warrington said: “Working with the LGBT community in Greater Manchester is an integral part of the equalities portfolio that Mayor Andy Burnham has asked me to undertake.

“There is a tremendous energy and pride within the LGBT community across the whole of Greater Manchester which the current season of Pride events demonstrates brilliantly. I look forward to working with the LGBT Adviser and Panel and fully intend to help tackle the inequalities that still exist for a significant number of Greater Manchester people.”

The panel members are:

  • Paul Martin OBE – chief executive, LGBT Foundation
  • Christine Burns MBE – trans civil rights campaigner
  • Juergen Maier – chief executive, Siemens UK
  • Colette McKune MBE – deputy group chief executive, ForViva
  • Helen Darby – research impact and public engagement manager, MMU
  • Will Patterson – chair of Wigan & Leigh Green Party and Green Party mayoral candidate
  • Chloe Cousins – youth engagement officer, Proud Trust
  • Jane Owen MBE – former trustee of Sparkle, works for Network Rail
  • Raf Young – Queer Disabled activist
  • Pierrette Squires – chair, Bolton LGBT Partnership
  • Lou Englefield – director of Pride Sports and Football v Homophobia
  • Jax Effiong – GMFRS community safety manager and LGBT role model
  • Tara Kelly – former chair of HouseProud NW, works for Equity Housing
  • Mark Fletcher – chief executive of Manchester Pride



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