In a ground-breaking development for the legal and LGBTQ+ communities in Leeds and West Yorkshire, newly appointed President of the Leeds Law Society, Matthew Jones of national law firm Weightmans, has selected Out Together as his nominated charity for his year of office.
Out Together is Friends of Dorothy’s project to tackle the loneliness and isolation that can impact on older LGBTQ+ people. These are contributory factors causing individuals to become marginalised and disadvantaged, and suffer poor mental and physical health.
Matthew is the first openly gay lawyer to be elected to the post of President in the Law Society’s 150 year history. During his presidency, Matthew will focus on diversity and inclusion within the Leeds legal community, reflecting his role as a Weightmans champion for this cause.
Matthew was keen to work with an established LGBTQ+ charity based in Leeds, but which had ambitions to reach out beyond the city. He recognised that Out Together’s approach fitted in with his goals for his year of office. “Out Together is an incredible project. The LGBTQ+ community has an important role to play in tackling loneliness and isolation.
“Discovering one’s true self can often be a daunting and very difficult journey,” said Matthew. “Without the support of the LGBTQ+ community, I know that I would have felt overwhelmed whilst discovering my true self. I have always felt pride in the LGBTQ+ community and whilst it is strong and supportive, many LGBTQ+ individuals experience isolation and loneliness during their lives. Nobody within our community should ever feel that they are alone. The work that Friends of Dorothy are undertaking is invaluable and as an openly gay man, I could think of no better charity to support during my term as President of the Leeds Law Society.”
In expressing the thanks of the charity, Chair of Trustees, Tim Gittins, paid tribute to Matthew’s initiative. “We are very proud of and grateful for the opportunity to work with Matt over the next 12 months, and to help him achieve his exciting plans to encourage and enable members of the legal profession to be their true selves” Tim says.
Out Together’s mission is to work with older people who are socially excluded on the grounds of their age and sexual orientation. Tim explains why this accords with Matthew’s goals: “Many older members of our community are marginalised and disadvantaged, driven by fears that they may suffer discrimination, and lacking the support of families and children. We want to counter the barriers many such people face and assist them to integrate better into society”.
Matthew has invited the charity to be part of the programme of events and activities that he will be championing during his year of office. These include Leeds Pride, D&I events, Networking Events and educational events.