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NHS staff find virtual ways to celebrate Pride

Posted: 25/06/20

Staff at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) are finding new ways to celebrate Pride this year despite COVID-19 restrictions.

The Trust’s LGBT+ Network and other staff would usually represent CNTW at Pride events across the North East and Cumbria to celebrate and promote their work in equality and diversity, to showcase the NHS as an inclusive employer, and to stand in solidarity with all those who can’t bring their full selves to work yet.

With Pride events being cancelled this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, staff are instead getting involved with virtual celebrations. NHS England and NHS Improvement’s LGBT+ Staff Network is organising ‘NHS Virtual Pride’ on Friday 26th June, which CNTW’s own LGBT+ Staff Network will be joining in with. The network has also been featured in the LGBT Foundation’s ‘#MyPrideIs’ campaign online, which aims to connect communities virtually at a time of widespread isolation and loneliness. The Trust is also showing their support for the LGBT+ community by flying the rainbow flag at St Nicholas Hospital in Newcastle this weekend.

Ken Jarrold CBE, Chair of the Board at CNTW, Non-Executive lead on the Board for Equality and Diversity, and a member of the LGBT+ Staff Network, said: “One of our Trust’s core values is to be caring and compassionate to everyone we serve. This includes making sure all our staff and service users are treated equally and experience a caring and inclusive environment.

“We want to be a Trust where we ensure that LGBT+ people’s voices are heard and that those voices influence and shape how we deliver services and how we operate as a workforce. Pride is an opportunity to celebrate this sense of community, visibility and inclusivity.”

Members of the CNTW LGBT+ Staff Network at last year’s Gateshead Pride event. They are wearing lots of rainbow accessories and holding a CNTW LGBT+ Network banner. A rainbow background surrounds the image, with the text '#MyPrideIs: a time when we can come together and be proud of our authentic selves. It is one day but should be every day, where we can live our lives free fro judgement and free from fear.' Explaining why Pride is such a significant annual event Simon Pearson, Chair of the Trusts’ LGBT+ Staff Network, said: “Pride is a time when we can gather together to show the world how proud we are to be our authentic selves. The feelings that we experience from Pride carry us through the days and months around this celebration.

“Being able to walk down any road holding hands with someone you share your life with should be happening every day, not just for Pride. The work the CNTW LGBT+ Staff Network does in our public engagements is all about trying to change hearts and minds so we can live our lives without fear of hate”.

Christopher Rowlands, Equality and Diversity Lead at CNTW, said: “Whilst there has been improvements in LGBT+ equality nationally in recent years, research shows that LGBT+ people still face considerable barriers to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. They face discrimination, bullying, and harassment in education, at work and on the streets, and greater inequalities in health satisfaction, access, experience and outcomes.

“The Trust is proud to be working with our LGBT+ Staff Network and national charity Stonewall to play our part in addressing these inequalities.”

At the start of 2019 CNTW signed up to be Stonewall Diversity Champions, the leading employers’ programme for ensuring all LGBT staff are accepted without exception in the workplace. As part of this work with Stonewall, the Trust takes part in the Workplace Equality Index to assess performance in this area, and benchmarks policies, procedures and practices to ensure that they are inclusive of all LGBT+ people. This work has been led by the Trust’s LGBT+ Staff Network, who have also developed and rolled out an LGBT+ awareness half-day training programme and Allies training across CNTW.

(Image above shows members of the CNTW LGBT+ Staff Network at last year’s Newcastle Pride event.)

Find out more about CNTW’s LGBT+ Staff Network.