Organising Award Winners Q&A: Binni Brynolf, Chatham House Branch

Equalities, Individual Award

Organising Awards

First reaction and thoughts when you found out that you had won your award?

I was completely delighted and really pleased when I found out that I’d won this award. It’s lovely to know that what we do is noticed!

Was there any particular reason  that spurred you into action, or that made you think you could make a difference?

I’ve reached an age and a place where I’m comfortable and confident in myself, so it’s easier for me to stand up for equality, and for LGBTQ+ rights in particular. I can do this for those who can’t.

I remember people who made a difference to me when I was younger and hadn’t yet found my way, and I try to follow their example. Prospect (and CILIP, the professional body for library and information workers) have given me a really good platform for this work.

In terms of your union activity, what are you most proud of in the last year?

It’s the small things that I can’t always talk about – when a colleague tells me that I’ve helped them with a problem, or a workshop attendee thanks me for the non-binary representation – this makes me really proud.

What help and support have you had?

I’ve had a lot of support from Prospect, in particular Rob Lauder and the LGBT+ Network, and from our branch equality and diversity rep, Nicole El Khawaja.

As a branch, what sort of engagement have you had with your employer?

Our branch has a good working relationship with our employer, which makes it easier to bring up concerns and suggest improvements. We’re involved in the Institute’s equalities initiatives and we’ll work hard to keep them moving forward.

What are some of the challenges and obstacles that you’ve had to overcome in this period?

The biggest challenge is obviously the pandemic and the uncertainty it brings. We are all worried and have a lot of questions about what’s going to happen, questions that understandably can’t all be answered.

Adjusting to remote working has been difficult for some, especially as many colleagues have a high workload and might not feel they can switch off.

The isolation of remote working can be especially difficult for LGBTQ+ people, some who may be at home with hostile family members or housemates. This is where membership of unions and their diversity networks can really help us feel less alone.

What’s your advice to other members or branches hoping to replicate your successes?

I’d advise members to join Prospect’s diversity networks, and for branches to set up networks in their workplaces.

Take inspiration from other branches or organisations but start small – you don’t want to get overwhelmed before you’ve even begun!

What are going to be some of your branch’s priorities over the next 12 months?

  • Equalities work
  • Pandemic: the response to it and the plans for coming back out of it
  • Mental health and wellbeing of employees
  • Outreach to branch members

For you, personally, what’s the best thing about bring in Prospect?

The sense of community from working with other union activists, the support that we get, and the inspiration to make things better!

Organising Award Winners 2020 See the full list of winners