I stand for creating social change through innovation, culture and learning, with an award-winning track record for championing the LGBT+ community through the arts. The "Somewhere" social enterprise idea combines this and applied academic primary research into LGBT+ entrepreneurship, gained as part of my Master of Enterprise (MEnt) in Arts and Cultural Management from Alliance Manchester Business School.
Inspired by the response to my anti-hate crime campaign work with Manchester Lesbian and Gay Chorus from 2014, combined with a background in media production, events management and work with disadvantaged communities, the Somewhere project was born.
I'm a collaborator and a connector and am really proud that Somewhere’s foundations are through community effort and input, to positively disrupt established norms and give a platform for LGBT+ people to shine, thrive and live authentically in society.
I'm excited about our sister projects too! Somewhere's hub family is Somewhere MCR (managing digital projects), and more recently Somewhere EDI, set up in Edinburgh, designing and delivering change-making projects in partnership with like-minded others.
Somewhere's pioneering work is the realisation of my own personal authentic life and is driven by courage in overcoming my own experiences of invisibility and shame, to design a different future for myself and for many others.
Kai is originally from Bermuda, where they were involved in environmental and LGBT+ activism from a young age. They studied at McGill in Montreal for a BHons in Political Science & International Development, and worked in community education on consent, sexuality, gender, race, and union issues.
After 5 years there, they moved to Edinburgh to study for an MSc in Policy Studies. They are currently on sabbatical from this degree, working as an elected Vice President of Edinburgh University Students’ Association (Welfare), and also more recently as NUS Scotland’s LGBT+ Officer for 2018/2019.
Their main passions are improving education about LGBT+ experiences, providing communities of support for trans people especially, and challenging systematic injustice as best they can.
“Somewhere EDI gives a chance to do all of these things, and facilitate others to do the same! I’m really excited to work with such inspirational LGBT+ people towards creating more opportunities and spaces for LGBT+ people in Edinburgh - to share the diverse cultural, artistic and community-building skills and interests of LGBT+ people here!”
“As a queer person working in the LGBT sector for almost a decade, I’m compelled to keep an open mind about what Community means for myself and others, and how life for LGBTQ+ people in Scotland is evolving.
Along with developing inclusive social programmes for LGBT Health and Wellbeing, I also work closely with Trans communities and families to improve wellbeing and access to support and whilst I love creating a sense of community, I also love being reminded that change, learning and acceptance of difference is vital.
I imagine the ‘LGBTQ+ Community’ can for many, feel like a concept, a buzz-phrase or someone else’s idea, and it can for me sometimes too. But here in Edinburgh, it has also felt like a real physical experience for me, that can heal, support, connect and enrich myself and others around me.
Until shame (internalised or directed), discrimination and inequality is a thing of the past, there will always be a need for safe, affirmative LGBTQ+ spaces and I’m thrilled to be involved in some of them here in Edinburgh.
I’m most excited about Somewhere being able to create experiences that never make you question whether you belong. And where the systems and people around you enable you to recognise your own power and a pride in your identity.”
Thomas is the founder of Inclusive Networks - an organisation that celebrates and promotes diversity and inclusion all over the UK via their award-winning website, social media accounts, reward and recognition initiatives and innovative events.
In 2017 Inclusive Networks won two awards at the Business Innovator Awards - 'Best Workplace Inclusion Network' and 'Innovation Award for Networking Events'.
Thomas is the former Chair of The Co-op's award-winning LGBT staff network 'Respect'. During his tenure the organisation became the No1 Private Sector employer for LGBT people in the UK and the most followed and active employee network group in Europe.
He was also a driving force behind the launch of the UK's first Inter-Retail LGBT+ network, 'CheckOUT', he contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review and has shared his experience at various workplace conferences and staff network events around the UK and Europe, including Adidas (Germany), Stonewall (Cardiff) and PwC (Manchester).
In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for 'Diversity Champion of the Year' at the European Diversity Awards in 2013.