Meet the Propel Partner: LGBT Consortium

Learn a little more about the people behind Propel. This month we chat to Briony Williamson, Head of Membership and Engagement at LGBT Consortium, one of our brilliant equity partners.

What does equity mean to you?

I feel like there is no simple answer to this! At its core, equity work is about fairness and justice – tackling the multiple and embedded barriers that prevent everyone from having access to the same opportunities. As the distribution of resources in the world becomes increasingly skewed to benefit those who already have so much, equitable working mean acknowledging the enormous impacts of privilege and of disadvantage and taking steps to address those. Everyone is starting from a different point and simplistic equality approaches do not really take that into account, it has to be about changing the systems of oppression that are the root cause of the imbalance of power and resources.

Why is it important to prioritise led by and for organisations?

To honour and respect the experiences of all our amazing communities and to recognise and trust their expertise in relation to what they want and need to thrive. Historically a lot of work in the charity sector has been done with good intentions but has failed to have the impact it should because it was being ‘done to’ rather than by those it intended to support. We are seeing large, mainstream organisations being awarded funding because they are perceived by funders and commissioners to be lower risk and give better value. But the work they do is generic and doesn’t always provide the specialist support needed. We need to put the money in the hands of the people who really know what to do with it, to maximise the impact and benefit for their community.

Propel is a ten year funding programme, what change do you hope to see in the funding sector over this time?

Obviously I’d love to see led-by-and-for organisations being prioritised by more funders and also recognition and resourcing of infrastructure orgs like Consortium, who provide these community organisations with the support they need to keep doing the amazing work they do! I think the key thing will be a move towards more participative grant making, as it is so closely linked to equity. This is the approach we are taking with our funding programmes and we have already learned so much. The other thing will be relationship building: over the last few years, we have been working to bring our members together with folks working in the funding sector, so they get to connect with the humans involved rather than just the application forms, monitoring requirements and online portals. In ten years, I really hope that any perceived divide between funders and organisations seeking funding is reduced and that we develop meaningful, reciprocal relationships.

How can LGBT Consortium support Propel grantees throughout their journey?

We are here at every stage, from their application through to the end of their grants and future planning. We are led by our members and try to take a personalised approach to support wherever we can. We have a huge library of tools and resources and can provide 1:1 support to talk through whatever issues a group is having. Some folks want help with practical things around comms, governance or policy development, others are looking for ideas around how to support their staff and volunteers in the current climate where there are daily attacks on LGBT+ organisations. Our various specialist networks can be a really valuable source of peer-support and solidarity.

Where in London is home for you?

I actually live in Bristol now! My wife lived near Wanstead before the pandemic though and I spent plenty of time there, so I have a lot of love for that bit of the city.

Three London favourites

The Common Press is a wonderful queer, intersectional bookshop, café and events space on Bethnal Green Road. I am always so happy when I get a meeting invite in that neck of the woods so I can go and visit (and add to my growing to-be-read pile!)

Queer Britain behind Kings Cross Station opened in 2022 and is the UK’s first LGBTQ+ museum. I love their beautifully curated exhibits for  learning more about the history of our LGBT+ communities. It also provides space for quiet reflection. An oasis in a hectic bit of London

Yard Sale Pizza – I used to go to the one in Leytonstone a lot and I am so happy to see more of these springing up all over the city. Marmite and cheese garlic pizza bread? Yes please.