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Home > News > News releases > February 2021 > KFRS hosts virtual Embracing Difference Together conference

KFRS hosts virtual Embracing Difference Together conference

05 February 2021

Firefighter with rainbow flag next to fire engine

More than 250 emergency service staff from across the UK joined Kent Fire and Rescue Service for a virtual morning of learning and sharing of emotional personal experiences, around the challenges faced by the LGBT+ community.

The service hosted the Embracing Difference Together conference via Microsoft Teams on Wednesday, 3 February, with a of variety speakers including a TV star, a priest and an LGBT+ human rights campaigner.

The event described by participants as ‘hugely inspirational, informative and insightful’ set out to highlight how we can all drive positive change to ensure everyone is able to bring their full selves into the workplace without fear of prejudice. 

Ann Millington, Chief Executive at Kent Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We were really proud to host a virtual Embracing Difference Together conference for people from a wide range of organisations across the country, including a number of other fire services. 

Ann Millington.jpg

“It was an educational, inspirational, and emotional morning from which we hope participants learned a lot. It was an opportunity to understand how we need to keep making our services accessible to everyone, and the challenges that face the LGBT+ community. We also heard personal stories and received advice about what we all can do to embrace difference. 

“Together we laughed, we cried and I feel like we all came away with a sense of empowerment to keep driving positive change forward.

“I’d like to thank all of the amazing speakers for their time – their expertise and their open and honest personal stories changed how we see the world.” 




Guest speakers

Speakers from a range of backgrounds brought the event to life with their expertise, passion and real life stories:

• Ann Millington, Chief Executive at Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS)

- Welcome

• Jonny Bugg, Head of Fire Strategy and Reform Unit and a Deputy Director at the Home Office 

- Valuing Difference Developing Talent

• Stuart Downs, Chair of KFRS’ LGBT+ Network 

- The value of the LGBT+ Network

• Jim Glennon, Opening Doors London

- Pride in care

• Mani Cook, KFRS Area Manager and member of the KFRS LGBT+ Network

- Being me: Mani’s story

• Drew Dalton, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Sunderland 

- The invisibility of bi-sexuality

• Reverend Sarah Jones, Anglican priest 

- Trans Issues: The realities, questions and some of the answers

• Shilla Patel, Inclusion Manager at LFB 

- Changing Hearts and Minds

• Heather Peace - Actress and musician 

- My life: Heather’s story 

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