Simon Levey, Head of News and Media and Imperial 600 Co-chair, Communications Division

Simon Levey, Head of News and Media and Imperial 600 Co-chair, Communications Division

“For me, it’s always been important not to just turn up, do my job and leave, but to make a difference.”

My communications career began at the Science Media Centre, a charity that connects journalists with scientists to help communicate controversial topics responsibly to the public. I had just finished a degree in Biology at UCL, where I had taken a course in science and the media that sparked my interest in the field. Although, I clearly had a long way to go as I was turned down for a place on Imperial’s prestigious science communication Master’s. It was during my time at UCL that I also became involved with LGBT campaigning.

I started working at Imperial in 2010 as Research Media Officer for Natural Sciences, followed by a role as Research Events Manager. From there I became Communications Manager at the Grantham Institute. I’d always been interested in the environment and climate change and was known for encouraging others to think sustainably, often telling my previous long-suffering colleagues: “It’s my planet too”. One of the things I’m most proud of is introducing public engagement to the Grantham Institute and inspiring them to recognise the public as an important part of influencing policymakers or politicians.

Recently I’ve re-joined the Communications Division for a secondment as Head of News and Media (Research). It’s been a great opportunity to test my skills, develop new ones, and experience the university from a different perspective. Two changes in leadership, at a university level and in our own division, means some things remain familiar but others are shifting at a head-spinning pace across the university.

Alongside my work, I volunteer as Co-Chair of Imperial 600, Imperial’s network for LGBTQIA+ staff, postgraduate students and their allies, and I’m the Environmental Rep for UCU. For me, it’s always been important not to just turn up, do my job and leave, but to make a difference; by striving to listen and collaborate and find the right way to benefit the whole community.

My Imperial 600 role is a privilege, but it requires a lot of time and resources and is definitely challenging to do alongside a busy role. I get to hear positive stories where people have found community and acceptance, but on the flip side too many people tell me about the hate and discrimination they experience, and there’s a psychological impact from that. I’m glad I have my husband Stuart to share things with when I get home.

I’m also grateful for the community that comes from being part of Imperial 600 and working with the other staff networks at Imperial. There’s still some way to go on breaking down prejudices at the intersections of different communities, and the powerful interests that seek to divide us. Going forward, I think it’s important that our communities collaborate to recognise and support our shared ambitions for equity.

From Monday 17 June until Friday 21 June, I invite you to join in with our ‘Dress the Rainbow’ fundraiser challenge for Pride Month and World Refugee Day. Dress in colours inspired by the colours of the Pride Progress flag or any other LGBTQIA+ flags, while raising money for Rainbow Migration, a charity that supports LGBTQI+ people through the asylum and immigration system.

Come along to Dalby Court for a group photo on Wednesday 19 June at 14.00 or take a photo in your team and share on Instagram, tagging @Imperial600, or post on Viva Engage with the hashtag #PrideMonth.

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