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Leadership Worth Sharing: James Watson-O’Neill, CEO of SignHealth

Welcome to Leadership Worth Sharing, a podcast in which ACEVO chief executive Vicky Browning talks to civil society CEOs about their careers, their experiences and what leadership means to them.

In this episode, Vicky talks to James Watson-O’Neill, chief executive of Sign Health, the Deaf health charity. They talk about the value of being different, how being a trustee can help CEOs to be better leaders, and what chief execs and actors have in common.

Scroll down for full transcript

(…) being different is intrinsically a good thing. That it’s, like full stop. There’s no need to add anything to that. Like it’s just good to be different. It’s good to have a different point of view, it’s good to have different life experience. It’s good to disagree. It’s good to… it’s richer, it’s just better

James Watson-O’Neill

Transcript

Vicky Browning  00:00

Well, James, welcome. I’m delighted to welcome you to the ACEVO podcast. James Watson-O’Neill, Chief Executive of SignHealth, the Deaf Health charity. You just told me that you’ve now got three dogs. Tell me about, tell me about, you’re there with, in your study with a beautiful bookcase behind you. And now three dogs.

James Watson-O’Neill  00:23

Yeah, I mean, ridiculous. Thank you for having me. I’m very, feel very privileged to be here. Yes, so we adopted our first dog, a greyhound called Rigby, at the start of lockdown. And we now have a Romanian rescue called Pauline. And as of yesterday, a staffy Jack Russell cross, a staffy Jack called Alfie. So no one’s getting much sleep here.

Vicky Browning  00:45

The pandemic has been fairly fraught and full of change, you’ve welcomed additional chaos and change into your life by bringing three dogs into the picture.

James Watson-O’Neill  00:57

I think so. I never, I don’t know, I never exactly had a plan for my career. But I never expected to work in an office. And I never expected to, I guess having then kind of developed a career that was office based. I never expected to work from a desk all day in the way that we do now that we work remotely, because I was used to, you know, moving around the country, moving around buildings and stuff and seeing people in real life. But the massive benefit has been to kind of accelerate the kind of retirement dream of being able to have dogs. And we’re very lucky, we live right on the edge of Epping Forest in Walthamstow. So we’re discovering all these lovely parts of the world that we didn’t know about before.

Vicky Browning  01:38

How lovely. So you do have a day job in an office in normal times you’re running Sign Health. Tell me about the organisation, tell me what it does. And how did you how did you get there to be to be leading it?

James Watson-O’Neill  01:52

Well, SignHealth, we are the Deaf Health charity. And if I was, if you could see me, I’ll be signing D with the capital D. To indicate that we support primarily Deaf people who use British Sign Language, people who are culturally Deaf, sometimes people say that. We are disabled people’s user-led organisation, so the majority of us are deaf, both at board and exec level and throughout the organisation. 130 staff about 5 million turnover. We have services across England. And it’s a great organisation. I feel very, I know it’s a bit cliche, but I genuinely feel very privileged and proud to work here and momentarily lead it before, after someone and before someone else if you know what I mean. I always say we do three things. We do social care, we deliver social care services, both residential and outreach. We deliver psychological therapy and we deliver domestic abuse support. And the really exciting bit about us is that we do all of that directly in sign language, by deaf people to deaf people, without interpreters. And that’s, you know, that’s a very powerful thing, very powerful commodity, I guess. It means that in many things, we’re the only people who do what we do. And many of my colleagues… I’m deaf, but I’m not a first language sign language user. So I’ve you know, learned sign language in my life. And we use it a lot of work. But most of my colleagues are born profoundly deaf, first language sign language users. So it’s a very personal thing that we’re doing in different ways. And it feels very, our passion feels very shared and real and urgent, as a result of that. Which of course has its challenges, but it’s also really lovely. I’ve worked in big charities that were not user-led. And this is a very different experience and one that I really love.

Vicky Browning  03:40

So tell me about where you were before then, what’s the career path that led you here? I think you studied drama, is that right?

James Watson-O’Neill  03:47

Yes, I always expected to be an actor. Oh, there are the dogs. So I grew up fascinated by theatre and, and yeah, I auditioned for drama school, didn’t get in, and then ended up going to drama school, but through a slightly more indirect route. So I spent three years at drama school and a university kind of together. Central School of Speech and Drama in Swiss Cottage and Queen Mary in East London, and had a great time. I directed lots of shows and acted in lots of shows and really wanted to have a life in theatre. I think, in the same way that sometimes now, and I recognise this in other people too, when you’re working and you’re doing something that you feel like I really know this, I really feel confident about the kind of edges of the room of this thing that we’re doing. And I feel like I’ve got something to deliver to it. That’s always how I felt about theatre. And it took me a long time to find social change, the charity sector and stuff when I didn’t succeed as an actor, and I just kind of meandered through career in PR and design and I ran a recruitment centre, a call centre for a recruitment company. And this was sort of just around the turn of the millennium and kind of thought I can’t do this. This isn’t what I was meant to do. And it was a Wednesday in the staff room. It was Society Guardian. I looked at the job adverts, and one of them was the NSPCC. And it was in my local area, it was in Tower Hamlets where I lived. So I applied and got the job and almost didn’t get it because I was overdressed. And I left my job in Chancery Lane in this huge building on Friday, and then on the Monday went to what was a collection of East End NSPCC projects in Mile End, where the whole building would have fitted into the reception of the building I’d left the week before. And it was great. I felt like I could kind of come home, I loved it.

Vicky Browning  05:31

I always wanted to be an actor as well, I had a real passion for drama. Do you think there’s something about being a chief exec, you know, that we are show offs, and we like to be the centre of attention?

James Watson-O’Neill  05:42

I mean, I, I do and I… people often said that to me, you know, earlier on in my career in the charity sector. And of course, I try quite hard not to really be that kind of leader. But I actually think it’s, I think a lot of it is about audience, a lot of it is about what do they think I know about them? And if I do this, what will they think? You know, if I do it this way, or that way, they will be different, and they will have different reactions. And so what are the pros and cons of doing it those different ways and having the kind of respect for the kind of semiotics of it like the kind of very complex transaction that happens between protagonist and audience. I love that. I don’t think I know a lot about it. But I love the sort of ephemeral nature of what how your behaviour influences the message, and you know, the impact and all of that, I think that’s what I love, that’s the thread that connects the two for me. And of course, it’s helpful to feel more confident, you know, public speaking, or whatever it may be. But I think the, I guess the authenticity that I look for in leadership now is actually quite similar to the kind of theatre training I was getting in kind of mid/late 90s, which was all about, don’t try and pretend to be something, try and turn the part of you that is most like the character towards the audience. And I like that idea, like the idea that it’s windows into parts of you. That’s what makes it exciting, I think.

Vicky Browning  07:12

And, you know, talking of sort of audiences, you’re, the people that you’re centre stage for, if you like, the Deaf people in the SignHealth community, they were really disadvantaged, I mean, hugely disadvantaged by so much that happened during the pandemic. Not having translations, not having sign language, people wearing masks, a whole a whole kind of raft of challenges for Deaf people. And SignHealth was right in the middle of advocating for that wasn’t it? What was that like? Given that, you know, you’re running the charity, you’re trying to support your own staff and your trustees and your… the people that you are there to serve, are particularly affected and disadvantaged by the global health crisis.

James Watson-O’Neill  08:03

It was, it feels, still feels very close, of course. But I think that it was genuinely a real kind of milestone in my life in many ways. I had a very emotional conversation with a colleague, very senior colleague who’s deaf and is married to a deaf man and who, whose husband had been in hospital with COVID, and had an extraordinarily bad experience. And he shared with me and others on Twitter, photographs of the handwritten notes that he’d been forced to swap with nurses and doctors, which included conversations about life support, you know, it wasn’t just do you want tea coffee. Sign Language is the language in its own right. So you know, when you communicate with a deaf sign language user in English, you’re often almost always communicating in that person’s second language. And so I had this very emotional conversation with her about the experience she’d had. And I left that call really challenging myself, reflecting… the Sign Language sign for reflection depends on the context. So if you’re reflecting on a thing that’s in the past, you would like point with your fingers over your shoulder to indicate you’re looking with your fingers backwards. But if you’re reflecting on your own performance, you take the kind of neck of your jumper and pull it away from you and look down as if you’re looking inside yourself. I was reflecting in that second meaning of the word looking inside myself about I’m the Chief Exec of the Deaf Health charity and we’re in a pandemic. And Deaf people can’t access any health care. What am I meant to do? And it was, it was a invigorating experience. You know, challenging, but like, I kind of felt like I feel like we can do something, like I feel like we can really make a difference. You know, this is this is exactly why the organisation exists, so we created an online interpreting service giving free access to Deaf people in all health settings 24 hours a day. At massive cost, and ended up investing 800,000 pounds of our reserves in it. Sadly, the service had to close after its first year, so last March, almost a year ago, because we couldn’t get any more funding. None of us I think had ever been in a similar situation before qs leaders of charities. I felt very proud of what we were achieving, that we were really kind of showing up for our community, because we are of the community so kind of showing up for ourselves. And not only that service, but we continue now, even now, two years on, to summarise Downing Street briefings into Sign Language, there’s not an interpreter on Downing Street stage, despite the millions of pounds of investment on a new stage in the middle of the pandemic. And you know, many other things besides that we do to try and make sure that Deaf people have access to the latest information about COVID. And whilst all of that I find really challenging and difficult, and that shouldn’t be the case, I feel really proud that we’ve been able to do those things, often really quickly, much more quickly than I could have done when I worked at NSPCC or at Scope. And not just because I wasn’t the Chief Exec of those places, but because the kind of culture of running a smaller organisation means it’s easier to do those things. And critically, running an organisation where 70% of the board are Deaf people. And you know, I spoke to them all over Easter weekend, which is when we set the service up back in 2020. And within 30 seconds, every trustee I spoke to knew exactly what I was talking about. Because the vast majority of them have that, you know, were living that experience themselves. And that that really just justifies that sense of looking… supporting people to lead their own communities and to lead solutions, you know, co produce solutions, whatever language you want to use. I feel really proud of what we did. But of course, it’s not over and it’s still pretty crap. And that service had to close. And there are a lot of problems, but kind of keep trying, I guess.

Vicky Browning  11:49

I think you’re being quite, you’re playing down what I know, was a real sense of frustration that I, you know, sort of witnessed, we’ve worked together over the last couple of years. And you know, I think it’s absolutely brilliant, what you’ve achieved, I think that sense of frustration is probably what keeps you driving forward. Because it’s not done yet. And you haven’t won that battle. And there’s not… There’s still a lot of health service and government that hasn’t acknowledged and responded.

James Watson-O’Neill  12:19

Yeah. That’s definitely what keeps me going. I agree, the pure injustice of it. It’s interesting, I see, I see that nature of our work, everywhere, all the time. I was watching the Janet Jackson documentary last night – recommend, very good. And she was talking about her Rhythm Nation album. And I remember being obsessed with Janet Jackson as a little kid. And, you know, some of those lyrics are very, I feel like that’s exactly what I do today, you know, kind of coming together to improve our way of life, those are her lyrics. And it’s very I know, it’s very cliche, but it’s really true, you know, that this isn’t okay, it’s not good enough. It could be different, it should be different. There are laws that say it should be different. I think I learned when I worked at Scope, where I was for 11 years and worked with lots and lots of different people who kind of came and went in the time I was there. I worked with so many amazing disabled people who really taught me how just kind of screwed up our kind of traditional understanding of disability is, you know, that the social model of disability about being disabled by society is a really, really real thing. And I worked with people like Tara Flood, who was my colleague on it, when I arrived, I was in the same team as her, we were kind of peers. And I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. But she taught me a great deal about what I know about disability. And, you know, the idea that not everybody gets to learn about that from Tara, I find, I think that’s really scary. We should all have those opportunities and because of the injustice and the low profile of disability and you know, the fact that people don’t necessarily understand the social model very easily means that we don’t you know, people don’t get those opportunities. And that’s really sad. When I started my job with NSPCC on that Monday morning, when I turned up kind of thinking what am I doing? I worked with a group of social workers who had posters on the wall saying, difference is good. And I remember sitting and watching, looking at the posters and kind of trying to think, trying to understand what that meant. And now, you know, 20 odd years later, that’s very much a very deep part of my soul. You know, the idea that being different is intrinsically a good thing. That it’s that that’s it like full stop. There’s no need to add anything to that. Like it’s just good to be different. It’s good to have a different point of view, it’s good to have different life experience. It’s good to disagree. It’s good to… it’s richer, it’s, it’s just better. And I didn’t grow up learning that, you know, I had to learn that as an adult with those amazing group of women I worked with.

Vicky Browning  14:57

And as a Deaf person yourself, you’re… Essentially you talk about, because you’re not don’t have Sign Language as your first language, you talk about visiting the culture of the people that SignHealth serves, rather than being of that culture, but, but you’re a Deaf person yourself. So you’re still carrying kind of emotional labour of, of having to, you know, in all the meetings that you and I are always in, you know, there’s always the extra challenge around captions. And, you know, there’s so many times when you go into meetings, when we go into a meeting, and the captions are not enabled, so you’re kind of carrying a lot of that kind of emotional burden as well. What do you do to sort of look after yourself?

James Watson-O’Neill  15:31

Well, that emotional labour that you described is, is I think it’s, it’s much more of an of a labour than one tries to think of it as being. I started to lose my hearing in my mid 20s. So about the time I started in the charity sector, actually. I didn’t identify as a disabled person until I joined SignHealth or until I was leaving Scope, I would say probably, and I would, would certainly wouldn’t have identified as a deaf person, as I joined SignHealth, it wasn’t part of my like, spiel to like, I’m coming to be the Chief Exec because I’m deaf, I could not at all, because on average, I think there are an ID stats that it takes an average 10 years for, it takes about 10 years for someone who needs to wear hearing, would benefit from hearing aids actually getting hearing aids. And that’s, you know, I still look back at that and think that’s incredible, because I have the opportunity to have a very empowered approach to disability, because my time in Scope particularly. And I spent a lot of time with Deaf people growing up completely coincidentally, so I had some Sign Language as a teenager, but it’s, it’s still something I really wrestle with, there’s a really fascinating conversation in the deaf community at the moment about the idea of being deaf enough. And what that means and whether the distinction between capital D Deaf and lower d deaf is a worthwhile or relevant or credible distinction. And we learned that it was a distinction invented, guess what, by a hearing man, not by Deaf people themselves. So you know, I’m lucky because I’m surrounded by very supportive colleagues who encouraged me to kind of claim identity as a Deaf person. And I, you know, I do that increasingly, but it’s really hard. Although, you’re right, the kind of nightmare of captions continues. Actually, it’s the nightmare of returning to in person meetings, which is quite frightening. I had a board meeting, not for SignHealth, but for another charity, a while back. And last year, it’s my first time out for you know, 18 months like everybody else. And it’s just awful, you know, I forgotten how awful and how inaccessible in person meetings are, like more than four people. So, you know, I have kind of, don’t look forward to the, you know, increasing number of those sorts of events, I just, I need to find the right kind of ways through all that. And part of that is deflecting the requests for emotional labour and kind of saying, that’s not my job it’s yours. And part of it is being harder. And saying like, these are my access needs, and no, I don’t need to justify them to you, these are just what they are. You know, that all sounds very hard part of it, too, is I think, trying to be more visible because there aren’t very many disabled people in leadership positions, who have access needs or talk about access needs. So much of what we’ve learned, I think, at the pandemic is about being much more flexible and accommodating of one another. And guess what, celebrating one another’s differences, whether it’s about what’s happening in the next room in your house, or, you know, the fact that you have to leave a meeting early for childcare, or, you know, I think those things are good. So I try and be proud about those things. In terms of trying to balance that I do lots of things in my life that have nothing to do with work. I’m a, I’m a quilter, I’m a sower. I’m a knitter. I’m a, you know, a creative person, you know, I guess, wanting to be an actor and then I was a painter for quite a while. And I’ve tried to do lots of different creative things in my life. And those things bring me a lot of joy. But I like the precision of those pursuits. And I love that I get to be somebody who isn’t connected to any of this stuff. You know, I’m just James, I’m not James at SignHealth and you know, all the stuff that goes with that. That’s really nice. It’s nice to just be part of a group of people who are interested in a thing. Somebody told me once about some research, which I really hope is true, I’m sure it is. That if you join a group, your risk of dying halves like immediately because everything about the group is so good for your well being and health, you know, the repetitiveness of it. You know, the connection that all of the things that come with just being part of a group of people who do a thing has had really significant health benefits. And if you join another group it halves again, you know, let’s all join groups.

Vicky Browning  19:51

Talking of groups, you and I know each other mostly because we belong to the coalition of infrastructure bodies, The Civil Society Group.

James Watson-O’Neill  19:59

Yeah.

Vicky Browning  20:00

I’m not utterly convinced that being part of the CSG has doubled my chances of a long and healthy life. But it’s been, it’s been fantastic. It’s been fantastic in many ways. Tell me about why, why you’re part of that group and what it means to you to be part of that kind of infrastructure collaboration.

James Watson-O’Neill  20:18

I’m, I love it, I feel very proud of it of being part of it. I’m an imposter. You know, I don’t run an infrastructure organisation. I’m a trustee of one. I’m a trustee of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, the umbrella body for social care providers, very proud to be a trustee of it. But I don’t, to be honest, I don’t really go wearing that hat. I think I sort of wandered into that room, and then stayed, because I found it really exciting. I learn a lot from people. And of course, I learned a lot about what’s going on in the sector. And I’m keen to ensure that disability and access are on the agenda. But I’m really interested in diversity more broadly. It’s interesting, some of those conversations we’ve had over the last couple of years, where all of the people in those rooms, I really believe are really committed to a diversity agenda. But because it isn’t part of their day job, they don’t run an organisation that’s necessarily fixed on, you know, protected characteristic, it’s still surprising to me how often I can be the person who raises my hand and says, you know, what, about the kind of diversity lens? And people are like, Oh, shit, yeah, they’re forgetting only because it’s not yet kind of part of their culture, not because they don’t think it’s important, you know. So I hope that’s kind of a helpful contribution.

Vicky Browning  21:36

You mentioned there your trusteeship of VODG, and you’ve been quoted elsewhere as saying, you couldn’t be as good a chief exec as you are, if you haven’t also been a trustee. What is it, do you think, about being a trustee that helps you in your role as the Chief Exec?

James Watson-O’Neill  21:51

It’s such a weird relationship, isn’t it? You know, it’s such an unusual construct for an organisation. I guess, maybe just for power, you know, it’s a, it’s an unusual kind of power paradigm. And even though I’m the like, the least sporting person in the world, I often kind of think of sporting analogies when it comes to governance, you know, for me, it’s a game, and you have to play by the rules, you have to know the rules, like understand what game you’re playing, and really respect the rules and understand that you have different roles on the pitch. This is where my analogy falls apart, I don’t understand sport. Maybe, you know, maybe a better analogy, it’s like it’s a dance. It’s a it’s a technical thing, right? I’ve witnessed lots of really excellent trustees, actually, you know, I’ve been in front of Trustees at NSPCC and at Scope, you know, over many revolutions, different boards and so on. And I’m lucky to have a really amazing Trustee Board, and there is a real skill in recognising what room are you in and what hat are you wearing. And what value are you bringing. You may respond differently to the particular question or situation as an exec, but you’re not. So, you know, think about what are you bringing? What are you adding? And of course, if you were, if you are an executive another in another world, another life, it’s easier to think well, what would what would help me to hear a trustee say, what kind of leadership am I looking for? If you’ve led and been led, if we’re using a dancing analogy, that I think you kind of understand it better. I know Strictly last year was very much dominated by Rose Elling Alice, which, of course, I’m very excited by and she’s amazing, and has done so much for Deaf equality. But a big part of me was also fascinated by the John and Johannes pairing, because it was something I never witnessed as a child. And I wish I had, I wish I’d had my experience of seeing such a powerful kind of expression of gender, almost, and obviously sexuality. But that idea that you can, you can chat, you can be the leader, and then you can be led. I think there’s something really interesting about, I’ve seen really good trustees do it actually, where they one minute make a decision. And then the next minute they say to the exec, what should we do? What what’s the answer? How, you know, it’s a very kind of sophisticated form of leadership, I think. And yeah, I’ve seen I’ve seen that happen.

Vicky Browning  24:24

James, congratulations, early on this year, you were, you were given, you were awarded an OBE for services to Deaf people. How did that make you feel?

James Watson-O’Neill  24:32

My instinctive reaction was a kind of mixture of I feel really pleased and grateful. You know, I live my career, all about social justice and that kind of meaning of language and the importance of symbols and it doesn’t feel good to be connected to something about the Empire. That is not a great thing. I don’t, I’m not proud of that. I want to change that. But I believe in being in the tent. You know, I guess that’s another answer to your question earlier about The Civil Society Group, I just want to be in the tent, you know, so I hope I, you know, can contribute to the Excellence not Empire campaign. So you know, I think that’s a really serious responsibility, because it’s not right. And it has to change. It would be so hypocritical of me to, for, you know, to have said, I don’t know, I’m not willing to accept it, for example, because my parents, both were in the army, they both lead a life of service. And my father was in the Army throughout my whole childhood and took early retirement and a whole bunch of other stuff. But then he’s now a military knight of Windsor Castle, and they live in Windsor Castle. I think like lining up those principles is quite important. So yeah, I don’t want to be hypocritical about it. But I do want to be critical, and to try and improve it. You know, it is a cliche, but it is true that it’s the person who gets, the chief exec or the chair, who gets recognised for all the work that’s being done by amazing colleagues. It’s important not to not to overlook those, that kind of, that part of the game. And to respect what gets you to that point. It’s a nice thing. It could be nicer, but it’s a nice thing.

Vicky Browning  26:11

And you talked then about the people, you referred this, right at the beginning, you obviously see being a chief exec as a stewardship of an organisation, not ownership. But stewardship. You’ve been, you’ve been at SignHealth for six years, what do you see as potential next steps for you?

James Watson-O’Neill  26:29

I mean, I don’t know, I am lucky to have worked for a lot, a lot of really good chief execs, actually, people who I admire and learned a lot from, but my consistent experience with Chief execs, people that come and go, you know that I’ve never worked for Chief Executives sort of path furniture. And my approach to governance is, is one that sort of instinctively reacts against the idea that somebody is in a job, and that there is such thing as too long. And that’s something I talk about with my chair, you know, we’re both very aware of the risks of that. So I would love to be succeeded by a Deaf Sign Language user, I’m only the second chief exec at SignHealth. There was a founder, chief exec for a very, very long time. And then I’m the second and I think, be wonderful for the third to be the Sign Language user. I mean, I’m, I’m not leaving anytime soon. I love my job. But I don’t expect to be there forever, because I think that’d be a bad thing to expect. I really admire people who have left the sector in which they become the part of the sector in which they become successful and taking that experience elsewhere. You know, Chris Sherwood, I think, is a great example of that at RSPCA, where he’s doing such a phenomenal job and has not come from an animal welfare background. I love that idea of leadership as a skill separate to the knowledge, sector knowledge of a particular organisation. Yeah, I’d love to work in lots of different places and have lots of different challenges. I feel very passionately about lots of different things, too.

Vicky Browning  27:56

In terms of what gives you hope, and what motivates you, I can see you’re driven by a sense of social justice, and by, you know, righting wrongs, and there’s, there’s a kind of real passion there. Is that the thing that gives you hope, and that gets you moving and keeps you keeps you going, or is there something else that you look at and think that gives me hope for tomorrow?

James Watson-O’Neill  28:18

I actually really actively decided when I started this job to be optimistic. I said, I say it maybe slightly less now. But I said it a lot in my first few years of being here. I’m an optimistic person, I would say that like 20 times a day, until it kind of became true. And it definitely is true like I am, I do think of myself in that way now. But that wasn’t always the case. I’m definitely inspired by other people. You know, I think there are so many people doing so many amazing things. You know, it’s so impressive. There’s some of the people you’ve interviewed on this podcast before. I was listening to the episode about the Ubele organisation. I just I kind of feel like, it’s so impressive, like, it’s those sorts of things. Okay, well, we, I need to step this up, you know, we need to kind of try harder and just be a bit better, because some people are really knocking it out of the park. And I don’t think of it competitively in that way. But I think it is a kind of encouragement. You know, I think I grew up as a gay teenager, very conscious of both the privilege I had, and the discrimination I faced, and sort of slightly wary that… I’m 45. So I was born in 76. So I kind of grew up sort of slightly after some of the kind of civil rights movements of that period. And I’m excited by the sense of injustice that we have more of, sadly, because there’s more injustice, you know, sadly, because human rights has not progressed in the kind of linear way we were hoping it would. But there are more and more young people and you know, again, I feel and sound old, but that’s alright. You know, younger people who are understanding the injustice, having a first experience of it perhaps, and kind of, and I find that very reinvigorating a kind of you know, you’re right. I remember experiencing that for the first time, and it was crap there, and it’s still crap. And that has to change. And whether that’s about my own civil liberty, or whether that’s about trans people, or any other minoritized community, it feels that serious to me. And that urgent, particularly when it comes to trans people, I feel very determined to try to do my part to help people understand that there’s another point of view available. And that one group’s, one person’s freedom doesn’t necessarily threaten yours. And that and that comes back to difference, it comes back to the value of being different and not wanting or aspiring to be the same, you know, so, you know, let’s contribute to changing that. And that’s, I think, the stakes are very high. And that means that we you know, we have to do as good a job as we can.

Vicky Browning  31:04

Brilliant. Thank you. James it has been such a pleasure to talk. Thank you for joining me today.

James Watson-O’Neill  31:09

Thank you.

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