Home > Meet Active Sussex’s Strategic Relationship Manager for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Meet Active Sussex’s Strategic Relationship Manager for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

A family fo three smiling at the camera. On the left a middle aged man with facial hair wearing a cap, in the middle a middle aged woman with dark hair and wearing sunglasses, and to the right a young boy approximately four with short blond wavy hair smiling
Gemma with her husband and son

Meet Active Sussex's Strategic Relationship Manager for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

In a weekly series, Active Sussex introduces its staff and trustees.

Gemma Finlay-Gray is the Strategic Relationship Manager (plus Equality, HR & Adult Safeguarding Leads) and joined Active Sussex in November 2011.

Here we find out more about why she enjoys working for Active Sussex, her relationship with physical activity, what she does in her spare time, and what she thinks needs to be done to help open up physical activity to everyone.

 

Why do you enjoy working for Active Sussex?

Joining Active Sussex has provided an opportunity to meet and work with some truly inspiring people and work for an organisation that mirrors my personal values that everyone should have the opportunity to take part in sport and physical activity in a way that works for them to enjoy its benefits. 

I have been fortunate to work in several different roles since joining the organisation, and have learnt many new skills/areas of expertise that I had never envisaged when I first started. 

 

What has your relationship been with physical activity?

I’ve had a relatively positive journey with sport and physical activity since I was very young, including competing at a national level and then volunteering and working in the sector over the last 20 years has provided some amazing opportunities and developed life-long skills. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to work/volunteer at big events such as Wimbledon and the London 2012 Olympic games, but my real passion has always been in community sport and wellbeing development, from seeing its impact when travelling and how it can be a catalyst for change to how it can benefit people in so many different ways, such as those living with cancer through a volunteer role I held for Cancer Research UK Relay for Life.

My own relationship with physical activity has definitely changed over the latter years, and grew significantly important over the last ten years in supporting my mental wellbeing. 

This was especially so when caring for my mum alongside my dad, and then more recently during the perinatal period. 

I didn’t have the most straightforward pregnancy, alongside dealing with the grief of losing my mum, so looking back now I know that finding the time for me to continue to move my body was critical to my wellbeing during this chapter of my life. 

From these experiences I’m keen to ensure that physical activity forms part of a holistic approach to supporting a person’s wellbeing and especially for carers, mums-to-be, birthing people, and new parents. 

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Other than running around after my little one or building Lego (I probably enjoy it as much if not more than him), I love to listen and find new music – I took my son to his first festival this year.

I also love to stay active, playing badminton, dabbling with yoga and attending a Mumrave dance class. 

More recently I’ve been giving Stand Up Paddle boarding a go and, having the sea on my doorstep, I try to go for a dip with friends, ideally when the sun is out.   

When I get a chance I like to sketch, puzzle or try and finish that book that I’ve not quite got to the end of! 

As a family we love spending time exploring our home city and meeting up with friends. We love visiting new places both in the UK and abroad. 

I’ve been fortunate to travel to some amazing places around the world, but would love to travel more and for my son Coen to explore different places and cultures as he grows up.  

 

What would you like changed to help encourage more people in Sussex to be physically active?

I would like to see more accessible recreational facilities, so that everyone can access spaces to engage in physical activity, and even more diverse and inclusive sports programs that cater to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, which have been designed based on their needs. 

I work with some truly fantastic organisations and people, but we must continue to come together to understand and address the issues faced by marginalised communities and take action to promote equality, respect, and inclusion to help break down barriers to getting involved in sport and being physically active. 

I hope the skills and knowledge I bring to the team and the networks I work with, are helping to make a difference. 

A picture of a badminton court with four women playong a game.
Gemma playing badminton for Sussex
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