Cyswllt Caerdydd, Newid y drefn

Newid y drefn: Simon Blake OBE (BA 1995) – Ymgyrchu dros gydraddoldeb

Simon Blake OBE (BA 1995) yw Prif Weithredwr Cymorth Cyntaf ar gyfer Iechyd Meddwl (Mental Health First Aid – MHFA) yn Lloegr, a dirprwy gadeirydd Stonewall UK. Mae’n gyn-Brif Weithredwr Undeb Cenedlaethol y Myfyrwyr.

Simon Blake OBE wearing a Stonewall campaign t-shirt that reads 'come out for LGBT'

Simon Blake OBE

O edrych yn ôl, roedd yn eithaf amlwg mai gyrfa wedi’i hysgogi gan gyfiawnder cymdeithasol fyddai fy un i. Fodd bynnag, does gen i ddim cof bod canllawiau gyrfaol Radio 1 ynghylch gyrfaoedd ar ddiwedd yr 80au yn cyfeirio o gwbl at elusennau, y trydydd sector neu gyfiawnder cymdeithasol. Felly, yn ystod fy nghyfnod ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd y dechreuais ddod o hyd i’m llais a datblygu’r angerdd ynghylch cydraddoldeb sy’n parhau i’m hysgogi hyd heddiw, 23 mlynedd ar ôl graddio.

Mae’r stori’n dechrau ganol y 90au pan oeddwn yn un o sylfaenwyr Grŵp Ymwybyddiaeth o Iechyd Rhywiol Prifysgol Caerdydd (Sexual Health Awareness Group – SHAG). Wyddwn i ddim ar y pryd, ond dyma ddechrau taith fyddai’n fy arwain at weithio i sefydliadau ardderchog fel Brook, y Gymdeithas Cynllunio Teulu a ‘r Fforwm Addysg Rhyw.

Dros amser, tyfodd fy ngyrfa i fod yn fwy amrywiol a dechreuais ganolbwyntio ar hyd a lled iechyd rhywiol a lles, ac yn dilyn hynny, materion ehangach lles a chydraddoldeb. Roeddwn yn Brif Weithredwr Brook (yn galluogi pobl ifanc i fwynhau eu rhywioldeb heb niwed), Dirprwy Gadeirydd y Black Health Agency, Cadeirydd Modelau Rôl ym Maes Amrywiaeth (Diversity Role Models – yn herio bwlio homoffobaidd, biffobaidd a trawsffobaidd yn ysgolion y DU) a Chadeirydd Compact Voice (yn gweithio ar gyfer partneriaethau cryf rhwng y sector wirfoddol a’r llywodraeth), cyn dod yn Brif Weithredwr Undeb Cenedlaethol y Myfyrwyr, gyda rhan o fy swydd yn ymwneud â chodi hwyl, cefnogi a chynnal sgyrsiau gydag arweinwyr myfyrwyr ar draws ystod eang o faterion cymdeithasol ac amgylcheddol.

Prifysgolion sy’n llywio newid cymdeithasol. Maent yn fagwrfa o syniadau newydd, egni, prosesau darganfod, creadigrwydd a gweithredu. O gerdded drwy Undeb Myfyrwyr Prifysgol Caerdydd heddiw, fe welwch nifer o fentrau sy’n canolbwyntio ar gyfiawnder, cynhwysiant a chyfiawnder cymdeithasol. Cefais fy nghyffroi’n arw dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf bod fy safbwynt am y byd yn cael ei herio gan syniadau newydd a ffres, sy’n esblygu. Wrth i mi dyfu’n hŷn, mae’n rhaid i mi ofalu fy mod yn symud gyda’r oes. Mae pobl iau yn fy herio i feddwl yn wahanol a chwestiynu’r hyn rwy’n ei gredu. Rwy’n gwerthfawrogi’r hyn a ddysgir ar draws cenedlaethau.

Simon Blake pictured at a Pride eventMae’r sgyrsiau hyn yn dangos i mi fod pobl ifanc yn parhau i ddod o hyd i ffyrdd newydd o fyw mewn byd sy’n prysur newid, yn union yr un modd ag y gwnaethom ninnau yn ystod ein harddegau a’n hugeiniau. Os ystyriwch pa mor bell rydym wedi teithio ar gymaint o faterion cyfiawnder cymdeithasol, yn enwedig hawliau LGBT dros oddeutu’r ugain mlynedd diwethaf, mae pethau’n dra gwahanol erbyn hyn.

Mae cymaint i’w ddathlu. Serch hynny, wrth gwrs, mae heriau go iawn o hyd. Yn aml, mae bwlch mawr rhwng y gyfraith, polisi, disgwrs y cyfryngau a phrofiad byw ambell bobl. Mae’r hyn sy’n gyfraith gwlad a beth yw profiadau pobl ar y stryd yn aml yn ddeubeth gwahanol iawn.

Wrth i mi ddechrau pennod newydd gyda MHFA Lloegr, sefydliad â’r nod o hyfforddi pobl mewn Cymorth Cyntaf ar gyfer Iechyd Meddwl, meithrin llythrennedd ynghylch iechyd meddwl a gostwng stigma, rwy’n fwy ymwybodol nag erioed mai dau gam ymlaen ac un cam yn ôl yw natur cynnydd yn aml. Mae ennill hawliau’n anodd, ni ellir eu cymryd yn ganiataol ac mae’n rhaid eu gwarchod.

Mae anghydraddoldeb wedi’i fewnosod yn strwythurol yn ein cymdeithas. Hyd nes bod pawb yn y DU yn gallu cael mynediad at wasanaethau a chymorth iechyd meddwl, cael mynediad at erthylu sy’n ddiogel a chyfreithiol, byw heb ofni hiliaeth, trawsffobia neu fathau eraill o ragfarn, a cherdded ar y stryd yn dal dwylo’r person maen nhw’n ei garu, waeth beth yw eu rhywedd neu hunaniaeth rywiol, mae gennym waith i’w wneud o hyd.

Darllenwch yr erthygl nesaf am Newid y Drefn:
Kellie Beirne (BA 1997, MSc 2003) – Bargen Ddinesig Prifddinas-Ranbarth Caerdydd

Hefyd yn y gyfres:

Cardiff Connect, Game Changers

Game Changers: Simon Blake OBE (BA 1995) – Campaigning for equality

Simon Blake OBE (BA 1995) is Chief Executive of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England and deputy chair of Stonewall UK. He is a former Chief Executive of the National Union of Students (NUS).

Simon Blake OBE wearing a Stonewall campaign t-shirt that reads 'come out for LGBT'

Simon Blake OBE

Looking back now it was pretty clear my career would be one driven by social justice. However, the Radio 1 careers guide of the late 80s didn’t feature charity, third sector or social justice as far as I recall. And so it was during my time at Cardiff University that I started to find my voice and develop the passion for equality that still drives me now, 23 years after graduating.

The story begins in the mid-90s, when I was a founding member of Cardiff University’s Sexual Health Awareness Group (SHAG). I didn’t know it then, but it was to be the start of a journey that led me to work for fantastic organisations like Brook, the Family Planning Association and the Sex Education Forum.

Over time, my career diversified and I started to focus on the breadth of sexual health and wellbeing, then wider issues of wellbeing and equality. I was Chief Executive of Brook (enabling young people to enjoy their sexuality without harm), Vice Chair of the Black Health Agency, Chair of Diversity Role Models (challenging homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in UK schools) and Chair of Compact Voice (working for strong partnerships between the voluntary sector and government), before taking on the Chief Executive role at NUS, where part of my job was to cheerlead, support, and have conversations with student leaders across a wide range of social and environmental issues.

Universities drive social change. They are a hotbed of new ideas, energy, discovery, creativity and activism. Walk through Cardiff Students’ Union today and you will see a vast number of initiatives focused on equity, inclusion and social justice. It has really excited me in recent years that my perspective on the world is being challenged with new, fresh and evolving ideas. As I age, I have to be careful not to become out-of-date. Younger people are challenging me to think differently and question my views. I value the learning across generations.

Simon Blake pictured at a Pride eventThese conversations show me that young people are continually finding new ways of living in a rapidly changing world, just as we did through our teens and twenties. If you look at how far we have come on so many social justice issues, particularly LGBT rights over the last twenty years or so, things have changed beyond recognition.

There’s so much to celebrate. But of course there are still real challenges. There is often a large gap between the law, policy, media discourse and lived experience. What the law says and what people experience on the street are so often very different things.

As I start a new chapter with MHFA England, an organisation that seeks to train people in Mental Health First Aid, build mental health literacy and reduce stigma, I am more aware than ever that progress is so often two steps forward and one step back. Rights are hard won, cannot be taken for granted, and must be protected.

Inequity is embedded structurally in our society. Until everybody across the UK can access mental health services and support, has access to safe and legal abortion, can live without fear of racism, transphobia or other forms of prejudice, and can walk down the streets holding hands with the person they love –whatever their gender or sexual identity – our job isn’t done.

Read the next Game Changers article:
Kellie Beirne (BA 1997, MSc 2003) – Cardiff Capital Region City Deal

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