Joe Spurrell is standing as Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Officer at the 2023 AGM. Their nomination is supported by Noa Manton and Char Harrison. This is their supporting statement.
I am a relatively new member of the LGBTQ+ climbing group, that means that I remember my first beginners night very clearly. I walked out of the Quay climbing centre in tears and I’d like to share why I think that was. I had never been so immediately accepted for who I am before. I had never had a group of people not question me on my pronouns or sexuality. I never thought I belonged to or needed a community. I realised that I had built walls around myself, as protection against expected social hostility. These walls were so quickly flattened by the shared values of the members of the club. The love and joy and acceptance for each other which is so freely expressed had a hugely profound impact upon me.
The EDI role is a great opportunity for the club to diversify further. From speaking to other members in the last few days, here are some issues and conversation points I have already identified; The overwhelming majority of the club is white and able bodied. What can we do to create an environment for queer people of colour to access climbing? What can we learn from other LGBTQ+ climbing communities to grow our diversity and inclusion? How can we support people with disabilities, chronic illnesses in the climbing gym and outdoors? How can we promote the benefits of climbing to neurodiverse individuals while creating an environment which is supportive to their needs?
As a white able bodied person with all of the privileges that affords, I am not going to write here that I have all the answers to the complex and sensitive issues raised. However, if I were to be in the EDI role my first priority would be to create a outreach to other LGBTQ+ climbing groups, the BMC and other sports groups to see how they are managing EDI challenges. I would like to investigate how we can use our platform to integrate with these other groups with the aim of developing and adapting EDI models to further our goals. Also to work out the most efficient ways that we can raise awareness of the benefits of climbing within the safety of our LGBTQ+ group with the aim of attracting intersectional individuals in our area. As I explained in my first paragraph, in three short months, this club has been life changing for me, and I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the awesomeness that climbing and our community has to offer. I will be using this experience as motivation to ensure we are constantly challenging ourselves on equality, diversity and inclusion.