Stonewall Senior Champion of the Year: Cllr Alison Lowe

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Cllr Alison Lowe (Labour, Armley, Leeds) has been awarded Stonewall Senior Champion of the Year, a prestigious national award given to one senior leader who has made a positive impact on LGBT+ equality within their organisation and in their community. Cllr Lowe is the CEO of Yorkshire-based mental health charity Touchstone, which is especially noted for its specialism in working with people from different cultural backgrounds. Touchstone last year made the Stonewall Top 100 Employers index for LGBT+ inclusive policies in the workplace and placed 59th in the Times Best 100 Companies list.

Cllr Lowe is the mother of our publisher and Editor-in-Chief Adam Lowe, and has a track-record of feminist and anti-domestic violence activism. Besides her gay son Adam, she has one other child, Rosy, who is bisexual and works as an economist. Cllr Lowe speaks regularly at Leeds Pride and is a vocal supporter of LGBT+ rights.

Cllr Lowe grew up on a council estate in Leeds’ Seacroft – then a predominantly working class area of urban deprivation. Her parents met working on the buses – her father was from the Caribbean island of St Kitts and her mother was a Leeds-born trade unionist of Irish descent. They were the only ‘coloured’ family on the estate and the only family with a colour TV.

After getting married to a train conductor at 20 and having children at 21 and 23, she went on to study History at the University of Leeds three weeks after youngest child Rosy’s birth, and later gained an MA in Medieval Studies (her thesis was on ‘Homosexuality in the Middle Ages’). She worked for a time at St Anne’s, a charity working with homeless people, and then Foundation Housing, where she housed over 1,000 ex-offenders. She then went on to become CEO of Touchstone in 2004.

Cllr Lowe has been on the West Yorkshire Police Authority for a number of years and sits on the Police and Crime Panel, where she ensures the Police and Crime Commissioner remains a force for good and serves the needs of residents in the county. Last year she also won the Forward Ladies Business Woman of 2014 award.

She currently lives with fishing champion and life partner Steve Rothery.