CSR

Celebrating Pride 2022: sharing and seeing

As June rolls around, and we recover from the shock of being half-way through the year already, it’s time to look forward to a month of Pride festivities with LGBTQ+ communities around the world.

The bright rainbow colours mark a history of hard-fought rights and acceptance, coinciding with the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It’s an important time for organisations of all shapes and sizes to reflect on how we create a more open and welcoming world.

For the real estate industry, institutions like the RICS have a major part to play. On Wednesday June 8th, the RICS Pride 2022 event discusses the importance of visible role models and asks what more can be done to create an equal and inclusive profession for LGBTQ+ professionals.

Ahead of that, we caught up with Neil Gilbert and Greg Curtis in our team to hear about their journeys to being out at work, and their views on what works and what could still be improved across our industry to support those who aren’t yet able to be fully themselves in the workplace.

On limiting beliefs when coming out:

Neil Gilbert, Partner, Bristol:

My journey out at work was self-delayed: I told myself I must get Chartered first! I thought I needed to prove myself with hard work and professional merit before I would be seen as more than my sexuality in a straight-male-dominated environment.

Of course, when the big moment came there was no issue – only apologies from the team! That was in the 1990s, and the industry feels a world apart today. Nonetheless, I know many professionals (new joiners and old-timers alike) still feel anxious about being themselves, and I worry for those who struggle to be fully honest about their lives while at work.

Greg Curtis, Associate Director, Birmingham:

I haven’t always been out at work – in your early 20s there is a lot going on in your head and you can find that you’re unsure of yourself or what you really want. But I knew that I wanted to be authentic and not fabricate a life outside of work for my colleagues.

Looking back, I also realise it was important to give those around me the opportunity to see the real me and, likewise, to give the opportunity for others to show how kind and supportive they are. Genuinely, most people will be. If you’re not being honest, people can tell and they might not be open and honest back, which affects the relationships you build. Before I came out at work, I wasn’t 100% relaxed and comfortable in my own skin and this likely affected my confidence to perform to my best.

On visibility:

Greg:

Giving a platform for role models is a great way to encourage diversity across our industry. It was one of the things that attracted me to TFT in the first place, seeing the visibility of LGBTQ+ people and allies in the business, including FreeHold Co-Founder David Mann.

Those were signs to me about the company’s approach to business and part of its personality, and a few years in I’m glad to say it’s still somewhere I feel totally comfortable to work!

Neil:

Coming out at work is one thing, it’s another to make your ‘whole self’ more visible at work. I am a big advocate for everyone to bring personality into their working relationships over time, bit by bit.

As I’ve done so through the years, my work became more meaningful and my relationships much stronger. Contacts become clients, and even great friends. I don’t think that would be the case if I had held myself back.

On the role of networking:

Greg:

For the industry as a whole, I definitely want to see a more diverse networking scene.  This could extend to a greater connection between all parts of the industry, professional services, construction and trades people, and not as separate entities. This should also be integrated with greater cooperation with BAME networking groups, Women in Property, or generally, any ally networks.

Neil:

Networks are important, and they don’t always have to be LGBTQ+ forums. To those struggling to be themselves at work, it can help to attend any upcoming networking event where you can make an introduction to some new people in a different way. Mention your partner, a date, how you’ll celebrate Pride, or something else altogether. You might be surprised at the response you get – or lack thereof! It can help empower you to open up a little more when you’re back among colleagues and clients.

If you’re looking for a supportive LGBTQ+ network, FreeHold was founded as the first networking forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender professionals working within the real estate sector. Since its official launch in September 2011 by TFT’s David Mann and Saleem Fazal from Taylor Wessing, the group has grown to over 1000 members and continues to expand.

This year, you’ll find FreeHold at a number of events hosted by a range of property companies and industry bodies. Stay up to date with their news on their website and Twitter feed.

Mark on a Mission: LEJOG for The Bike Network

Mark Fenwick, Associate Director based in our London office is a very keen cyclist. Mark takes part in various fundraising events and is always looking for new ways to give back to the community. In just a few weeks Mark will be cycling the entire length of the country: from Land’s End to John O’Groats, with five other riders raising money for The Bike Network.

That’s a whopping 900 miles, 8 days of cycling and one very sore Mark.

Donate here at the team’s fundraising page and help them reach their goal!

About The Bike Network

The Bike Network was founded in 2017 by Adam Froggatt.

In 2017 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Bowel Cancer. Cycling changed my life.

After my treatment had finished, I had 3 months to wait before my final operation to remove the tumour. I was overweight and wanted to do everything I could to help improve my chances of a successful operation and speedy recovery.

I had no clue what would happen after buying that used bike off eBay. Since buying that bike, it has truly changed my life; I am fitter, healthier, and stronger than before cancer. I have rode thousands of miles, completed an ultra-marathon and the Royal Marines triathlon whilst raising in excess of £15,000 for charity.

I have created The Bike Network in the hope others can experience the same benefits I have.

Adam Froggatt, Founder
Some of the LEJOG team enjoying lunch during training

Training has been a slow burner since the start of the year but in the last month I’ve begun to consistently get hours on the bike and time in the gym too. I’m now at the same fitness levels as my peak last year. So, I’m calmly comfortable that I will be ready come April.

No amount of training can prepare you for the huge physical and mental task at hand. But a good level of base fitness and a ‘never say die’ attitude – I hope – will see me through to the end.

I’m really looking forward to each moment we break through a county. It’s going to feel surreal to work our way through Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Lancashire, to name a few!

Mark Fenwick on how he is preparing for LEJOG

Their journey begins on 19 April, keep an eye on our socials for LEJOG updates and more!

It’s time to talk, with Mind and LionHeart

Thursday 3rd February is Time to Talk Day, a joint mental health initiative by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, in partnership with the Co-op.

It’s all about encouraging people to talk about mental health with family, friends or colleagues and to focus on the different ways in which we can support those around us. To mark Time to Talk Day, LionHeart is running two free, friendly webinars over lunchtime, for RICS members to learn more about mental health awareness and the counselling services that LionHeart offers.  

What’s LionHeart? LionHeart is a charity for helping RICS members and their families in any way possible, from money worries to taking care of your mental health. Its aim is to be there for its members whenever life throws them a curve ball, from graduates studying for APC tests all the way through to retirement. 

TFT promotes these services for all our team and supports those who need further support in their career or with taking on the challenges that life presents us all. We’re all different, and our support is tailored to suit.

Make a note of these webinars coming up this week:

Introduction to Mental Health Awareness – 3rd February 11:00 to 11:45 

An introduction to mental health – and why it should be on everyone’s radar. 

Time to Talk: Counselling – 3rd February 13:15 to 13:45  

It’s Time to Talk Counselling! Join the LionHeart team who will answer all your questions about counselling and talking therapies so you can find out more about one of our most requested services. 

Click here to book and read about their other events throughout the year.  

Click here to find out more about Time to Talk Day. 

Finding a way to speak about mental health can feel daunting, but LionHeart has some tips on starting the conversation:  

  • Reach out to a friend, ask them how they’re doing  
  • Call someone you’ve not spoken to for a while 
  • Perform a random act of kindness for someone 
  • Give thanks to someone who has done something for you 
  • Go for a walk with someone and check in on how they’re doing 
  • Make someone a cup of tea and have a chat while you drink 

“Mental health really is a subject that affects each and every one of us – even if we like to think it doesn’t. We’d encourage members of the surveying profession to find time to join the conversations on Time to Talk Day.” – Jo Grant, LionHeart Training and Wellbeing Projects Manager.  

Best feet forward! Team TFT takes on LandAid’s Steptober challenge

With raincoats at the ready and best socks on, TFT begins Steptober 2021 today to help raise valuable funds for LandAid, to help end youth homelessness.

28 strollers, hikers, joggers and amblers are taking to the challenge with seven teams around the country. And we’re in good company, joining over 1000 fellow property professionals on the march for a great cause.

If you’re new to Steptober: during the month of October from the 1st to the 15th LandAid challenges those in the property industry to come together in teams of four and take the most steps over the course of two weeks to raise money for the charity, which is set up to tackle youth homelessness in the UK.  

If you would like to show your support, please consider donating what you can, and send a message to the teams via their JustGiving pages (linked in the team names below)!

The End of the Road  
Alistair Allison
Richard Aitchison
Mark Day
Jay Ridings  
 
One Step Beyond  
Lisa Gunn
Neil Wotherspoon
Jacqui Allen
Paul Skennerton  
South East Pedominators
Lisa Collings
Dan Henn
John Lewis
Carrie Fung

Cirque du Sore Legs  
Deborah Brown
Hugo Bradley
Alan Pemberton
Michael de Glanville  
Strutting Surveyors  
Alex Raddings
Ellie Doyle
Louise Pattullo
Jon Grimes  

TFT Fitbits  
David Mann
Fatimah Abarshi
Dylan Devshi
Amy Henderson  
The Eagle has LandAid  
Chris Keates Lewis
David Medcraft
Liam Drawwater
Emily Brodie  

 

TFT M&E Associate completes charity fundraiser Tour de Cornwall with ex-footballers

Tour de Cornwall
Top left – Mark at Land’s End on Day 1 of the ‘Tour’

Mark Fenwick, one of TFT’s keen cyclists, has just completed the Tour de Cornwall: 190 miles and 16,000 ft of climbing over three days across Cornwall to raise money for umbrella charity 11 Foundation. The charity ‘curate unique collaborations to provide support and funding to established charities to help enable health related initiatives, community led environment schemes and the provision of opportunities for disadvantaged and vulnerable people’ (www.11foundation.co.uk).

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Former Chelsea and England footballer Joe Cole, who set up 11 Foundation with his wife Carly, joined the group of property professionals for the ride along with former teammates Wayne Bridge and Steve Sidwell. To keep in line with COVID-19 measures, riders had their temperatures checked before they set off each day and anyone with symptoms was pulled out of the event.

Upon completion, Mark said:

It was always going to be a challenge, however the certainly training paid off! We had fantastic weather for three days and with every climb our thoughts inevitably turned to the amazing cause we were raising money for. The rides were gruelling – even for the seasoned rider – but the entire group proudly completed the tour.

Donations from friends, family, TFT colleagues and industry peers have sponsored Mark over £2k, beating his £1750 target to help the team raise close to £50k for the charity.

This ride couldn’t have been possible without everyone’s incredibly generous donations and the support of my sponsors. We have just reached the £50,000 mark which is an amazing achievement by all.

A massive thank you to all of my colleagues at TFT for sponsoring me for this challenge!

If you’d like to show support and donate to the cause, please click here.

 

TFT votes to support local causes

In January, we were happy to ring in the New Year by giving everybody at TFT an extra day of leave to help a charity of their choice. Now, we are deepening our commitment to the local communities of each office around the country, with each office voting on local charities close to their homes and hearts, to support beyond the day job.

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Each of our 7 offices in the UK (Bristol, Cardiff, Guildford, London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh) have chosen their two local charities in hope to give back to the communities they value the most. Typically, local charities are often in need of extra feet on the ground, so we hope this will also encourage more volunteering opportunities for each office.

While local charities benefit from personal involvement of local people, our teams will also see the impact of their contributions first hand.

We want to be part of the bigger picture, helping to improve local environments and economies. Not only do local charities employ locally, encouraging personal interactions, but they also contribute to the growth and improvement of the direct community around us. As this community around us grows, we see significant and visible results enhancing overall wellbeing (Guardian, 2014).

Chris Keates-Lewis, Head of HR, said:

“This is an exciting direction for us, bringing our offices together in a TFT global effort to improve the lives of those closest to us, and the environment in which we enjoy our lives.”

The chosen charities include:

London: Bankside Open Spaces and Coram’s Fields

Guildford: Challengers and Macmillan Surrey

Bristol: St Peter’s Hospice and The West of England MS Therapy Centre

Cardiff: The Wallich and Ty Hafan

Birmingham: Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice and Zoe’s Place

Manchester: Wood Street Mission and 42nd Street

Edinburgh: The Cystic Fibrosis trust and Staffie Smiles.

TFT will also continue to support LionHeart and LandAid as their chosen national charities.

TFT announces additional ‘Volunteer Day’ for all staff

We believe that charitable work and volunteering is great for business. It helps attract and keep talented employees, improves our relations with communities, strengthens brand value, improves our client relations, demonstrates corporate value and builds team work and leadership skills. If done successfully, these projects and initiatives also help to expand our capacity to impact the issues most relevant to our long-term success, in a  changing business environment where doing good and doing well go hand in hand.

That’s why we do fundraising campaigns, why we offer pro-bono services and why we are now providing a minimum of one additional day of leave for volunteering per year to all TFT employees, starting now.

HR & Operations Partner Chris Keates-Lewis said:

We are a socially committed business, reflected by our amazing people in their activities outside TFT and in connection with the charities that we support. We are delighted to provide each person with a paid Volunteering Day each year as part of a structured approach to CSR, starting in January 2019.

Managing Partner Alan Pemberton said:

A big part of TFT’s culture is our sense of corporate responsibility – we love to give back, and to use our collective skills and experience to do good together. I’m proud to help empower our people to do even more with their paid leave and excited to see what ideas and initiatives come through as a result.

TFT Bristol Take the Plunge for Local MS Therapy Centre

On Saturday 8th September, a team of five of TFT’s bravest took part in the South West of England MS Therapy centre’s ‘Take the Plunge’ challenge. This involved participants jumping into Portishead Marina just outside of Bristol, to be rescued by well-trained Newfoundlands, a dog breed who have a propensity to rescue people from water.  The annual event helps to raise the necessary funds in order to provide a range of treatments and therapies for people living with MS and other neurological conditions, including physiotherapy, oxygen treatment, acupuncture, reflexology and aromatherapy.

TFT were gold sponsors this year and the team raised over £700 for the local charity.

Jay Ridings (Associate, Bristol). who took part in the fundraiser, recounted the memorable day:

The sprightly TFT bunch arrived nice and early in the Portishead drizzle ready for freezing cold temperatures, slobbering faces and the risk of being eaten by our would-be rescuers. The dogs were huge and excitable!! To our relief they were also very well drilled and enjoyed (loved!) saving people.

We could not have asked for a better ‘saving’. Paul Spaven’s (Partner, Bristol) rescue dog was slightly reluctant to jump in initially (some said it was his fluorescent pink gloves!?) but the dog’s trainer assured Paul that it had happened the week before and that the canine was in a “phase”. Thankfully, he was eventually saved and so is still with us. Just as well, as he will be the next trustee for MS Therapy Bristol!

We all had great fun for such a brilliant cause and I would recommend that anyone who isn’t too keen on swimming gets a Newfoundland to drag them around in relative luxury!

 

‘The All Purples’ triumphant rugby victory at Hyde Park!

By Giulia Mori (Energy & Sustainability Consultant)

TFT’s own tag rugby team won Wednesday’s challenging match against multidisciplinary consultancy group Dar Al-Handasah in the TryTag property league, held at Hyde Park each week. ‘The All Purples’ worked as impressively as a team: keeping the line; checking the numbers; facing forward and running to the try line over 15 times.

Unmerciful tries left right and centre from the TFT rugby duo Sarah Gunn (Marketing) and Olly Linton(Surveyor) with an unbelievable series of tags and defence strategies from Ollie Morris (Senior Energy & Sustainability Consultant), Deni Cherneva (Senior Graphic Designer), all steered from the directions of ever-present captain James Child (Surveyor)! Sarah was awarded overall player of the match from the referee and TFT look to be in the final in 4 weeks time!

I was gutted to not be part of the action this week, but it was nonetheless a great match to watch. We are getting there, team: well done to all players and good luck in the next rounds.

TFT at the JLL Triathlon – it was all slip slap slop before we flipped flapped and [mostly] flopped

28 degrees: so much sunscreen; no one fainted…28 degrees also meant no one beat any PBs. One punctured tyre on the way to race…Another punctured tyre during the race. 1 TFT triathlete swam into 2 safety boats. Marathon Mann [David] came out in top 30 of his [heat] wave…And not content with 13 miles alone, 1 relay cyclist cycled 22 miles to the race and 22 miles back home.