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Using Queer Theory in my studies and work

Andrew Kerr, PhD candidate in the Department of Geography, shares how his work at METRO Charity, an equality, diversity, inclusion, health, and wellbeing charity, influences his doctoral studies and how he is able to balance the two.

LGBTQ+ communities and young people are two of the most underrepresented communities within the UK. Whilst there are nuances to each, there are similarities. I feel that I am in a unique position to be able to advocate for equality and equity across the whole spectrum of identities which both social groups cover and which all communities deserve.

In my studies, I am applying Queer Theory to analyse and explore how young people experience, engage and participate within urban regeneration and inclusive growth processes in London. Using Queer Theory means to consider and understand social and political boundaries that exist within a heteronormative society and the constraints which this not only facilitates but reinforces. It is these boundaries which create power within hetero-patriarchal societies and lead to stigma, discrimination, prejudice and misrepresentation for LGBTQ+ communities and young people.

In addition to my doctoral studies, I also work at METRO, a charity that is committed to delivering projects, programmes and services which are open and accessible whilst combatting deep-rooted health, wellbeing and social issues. This includes raising the profile, voice, influence and representation of seldom-heard communities.

To complete my work and studies, I have to find the right balance between being strict but flexible with my time. For me, this means blocking out specific days for each role but being ready to adapt and respond to the needs of each as and when required. I am also lucky to have very supportive line management and PhD supervision who are encouraging of both my roles.

However, despite being busy with those roles, it does not stop me also being a Graduate Teaching Assistant and the PGR Representative for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Department of Geography. If you want to do something you will find the time and make it work, but organisation is key to spinning every plate!

My career in equality, diversity and inclusion

I started out in public health when I was just 14 and was elected to the BAD Youth Forum, Barking & Dagenham’s Youth Council, where I ran campaigns aimed at young people on the implications of unprotected sexual activity and the effects of alcoholism. I then had the opportunity to join the Young Leaders Board at the Terrence Higgins Trust, where we delivered projects on sex and relationships education, before joining TalkSafe, a youth counselling, peer mentoring and advice service, and the East London Sexual Health Programme.

My career began to focus more on LGBTQ+ communities when I became a Consultant to the Metropolitan Police Service. Through this role I sit on several independent panels, advising senior leadership on community policing issues, specifically those affecting LGBTQ+ communities and young people.

As a Programme Manager at METRO, I manage and coordinate the Greenwich Voice and Influence Programme. This programme aims to improve the joint working between the Statutory and Voluntary Sectors within the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Building upon the collaboration which occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, the intention of the programme is to change the way in which services engage with local communities and voluntary sector groups and organisations in order to redress deep-rooted health inequalities in the borough.

Prior to this, I led the LGBTQ+ COVID-19 Fund at METRO, a grants programme aimed at LGBTQ+ groups and organisations across the UK to provide relief and recovery to the communities they work with. As part of this work, I recommended LGBTQ+ groups and organisations to receive grant funding and supported them with the delivery of their projects. I also organised and hosted a UK-wide networking event for funded groups and organisations to attend in order to facilitate the development of future regional and national partnerships. 

During my time at METRO to date, I feel incredibly lucky, but also humbled, to have had the opportunity to work with some amazing, dedicated and innovative groups and organisations. Each one is 100% committed to supporting the communities they work with. I find being able to support them in do so a hugely rewarding experience.

I am also very fortunate to be able to complete my doctoral studies at King’s, having previously completed my BA and MSc degrees here also. Having the opportunity to attend an institution, and be based within a school and department, where you are able to be your whole self is both important and empowering, and one which I am truly thankful for.

Find out more about Andrew's work

Find out more about METRO Charity and the work they do. 

You can also watch the video Andrew produced for Comic Relief as part of his previous role at METRO on YouTube.

In this story

Andrew Kerr

Andrew Kerr

PhD student

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