Introducing our Patron - Claire Birkenshaw
"You can use all the labels you like but ultimately you are talking about a human being."
Education - and schools in particular - have such an important part to play in supporting and pushing the spirit of inclusivity and openness, which is why we are delighted that educator and campaigner Claire Birkenshaw has accepted the role of Patron of Think2Speak.
As we all know, life is filled with many unexpected moments. Some induce a lovely warm glow and feel magical in every sense of the word others much less so, for they are the ones we try to tame or forget in their entirety. For children and young people trying to navigate their way across stormy seas those memories of adverse experiences are like hidden rocks that ships try to avoid at all costs.
Through their skilled talking approach, Think2Speak not only provide a lighthouse service for children and young people but also help with other essentials just in case one of those hidden rocks gets in the way.
As an educator who frames my work round acceptance, inclusion, equality, respect and dignity for all children I felt extremely humbled when asked whether I would consider being a patron of Think2Speak. Without hesitation I accepted due to the fact our moral compasses align.
It is clear that Think2Speak is an outward facing organisation that places firmly the wellbeing of children and young people at the centre of everything it does. Their offer is unique, necessary and much needed, not just in the Lincolnshire area, but also across the country.
I feel very honoured to be included in their journey and to be patron of Think2Speak.
Claire’s story hit the national press in 2017 as the first UK headteacher to transition in post. The challenges she went through, before and during that time, were made all the worse by fear, intolerance and ignorance – not from the children in her school who were open minded and compassionate but from adults whose view of humanity was limited to ‘people like us’.
It is exactly those views that Claire is working to confront now in her work; as Patron of Think2Speak, through her speaking engagements with local, national and European governments and advisors as well as her recent appointment as a Lecturer in Childhood and Education at Leeds Beckett University’s prestigious Carnegie School of Education following her work at the university supporting their Centre for LBGTQ+ Inclusion in Education.