Proudly King’s Staff Spotlight is a monthly question and answer format blog post to showcase the LGBTQ+ and queer-ally community across the university. We speak this month to Jim Collins, Director of London Strategy & Planning and our Senior Sponsor about who they are, what they do and why they are Proudly King’s.
Who are you, what do you do and why are you Proudly King’s?
I am the Director of London Strategy & Planning in the President & Principal’s Office where I work with colleagues across King’s to help King’s deliver on our ambition ‘to be a civic university at the heart of London’’. I was also privileged to be asked to represent Proudly King’s as a senior staff sponsor. Not everyone feels confident in their own skin, and for many their LBGTQ+ identify can be a journey to acceptance, of themselves and from others. I think my role as an ally is to make the latter easier, where I can amplify our voices – ensuring that the views of our community are represented and understood – and most importantly, addressed.
I am Proudly King’s to work in an organisation where equality and service to society is central to what we do and is at the heart of who we are.
How do you find working from home in the current situation?
Through this pandemic, it has sometimes felt like I am living at work, rather than working from home but I think I have now adapted to these new circumstances and have restored some balance. Much of my work involves working with colleagues across King’s and with local partners and communities in our home boroughs so I do miss being ‘out-and-about’. However, everyone is adapting to new tech at the same time which means that when we are all able to be together again, I think I will enjoy the flexibility that new tech provides.
Are there any tips or resources that you would like to share?
I think it is important to know when to ‘close the office’ when you are working at home but I’m not always very good at that…. but I have a partner who sometimes steps in… So, perhaps, a top tip is having a routine and sticking to it. I try to go for a long walk or run every day – I’ve always found running helps me to think things through while it also seems to clear my head and to help me switch off.
If you haven’t found them already the King’s Wellbeing hub is a great one-stop-shop to help maintain health and wellbeing while working remotely.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
One of the reasons I moved to London, and stayed, is because there is so much to do if you’re interested in culture. Before lockdown I used to go to lots of gigs and performances so I am listening to lots of music at home. I’m lucky to live close to several big parks so I’m able to get out and can vary where I go for walks and runs. During this time it has also been great to get to my know my neighbours a bit more so we have organised shopping rotas and ‘socially distant’ get-togethers to make sure everyone on our street is looked after and cared for.
The first episode of the Proudly Pod centred on LGBTQ+ allyship. Can you tell us about the importance of allyship in your life?
As an ally I think the LGBTQ+ community have a responsibility to support the Black community as we all find ways to respond following the murder of George Floyd. For me, it is about being informed, looking at my own behaviours, challenging the behaviours of others and stepping up to be a visible anti-racist. We also need to be better allies to our community – everyone of us needs to step-up and support the trans community – who are particularly vulnerable and in the spotlight of discrimination.
How are you celebrating Pride this year given the extraordinary circumstances?
This year we combined Pride and Glastonbury at home by organising a mini-festival with our neighbours to celebrate both in our front gardens…. We pitched tents, put up bunting, played music and performed - with the Pride flag aloft at the centre of it all.