THE COUNTDOWN is on to Worcestershire Pride, the county’s first-ever event of its kind to support the LGBT community.
And organisers have been handed a further boost after Fortis Living – which provides more than 15,000 homes throughout Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire – decided to sponsor the event on Saturday, September 23.
The backing is part of the housing association’s commitment to supporting projects that promote tolerance, equality, diversity and inclusivity in local communities.
Tom Piotrowski, diversity and inclusion advisor at Fortis Living said: “It is particularly important for us to show active support for a local Pride event in light of increased hate crime reports and homophobic attitudes that gain notoriety in some quarters of society both in the UK and internationally.
“We are convinced that celebrating diversity of our communities, including our local LGBT community, is one of the best ways to challenge these negative trends.”
This year’s Worcestershire Pride takes place a week on Saturday, September 23, from noon to 8pm at the fountains and Copenhagen Street car park on South Quay in Worcester.
To accompany the event there will also be a Worcestershire Pride Festival of Arts and Culture from Monday, September 18 to Friday, September 29 with poetry, performance, theatre and a UK film premiere at various venues across the city.
There will also be an exhibition, Pride Art, at The Hive.
During the day, diversity champions from Fortis Living will be on hand to offer advice on how local residents can get involved with volunteering and making positive changes within their communities.
“Worryingly, recently released figures from West Mercia Police show that the West Midlands has one of the highest rates of homophobic hate crime in the country,” said Mr Piotrowski.
“Events like Pride help to address this and they foster a culture of inclusion and tolerance.
“We would like to encourage any of our residents who have any ideas about interesting projects or would like to volunteer as a tenant Diversity Champion to contact us.”
Aaron John, Fortis Living board member, said: “I am proud to be part of an organisation that embraces diversity and is one that creates a fully inclusive environment for all.
“I am committed to ensure that we provide our LGBT colleagues and residents with a positive and supportive environment.
“Fortis Living will only be able to continue its success and deliver our strategic objectives if we are all committed to this and I would encourage everyone to embrace diversity.”
The team has also launched a competition to spot the supporting logo – Fortis Living proudly supports Worcestershire Pride – which has been created and added to its vehicles.
Residents are asked to send in photos of the logo – and details of where they saw it – to firstname.lastname@example.org, share it on Facebook or tweet it with the hashtag #UbettaWORC by Wednesday, September 20.
First prize will give the winner and a friend access to the VIP area of the event while second prize will be an invite to the private exhibition of Pride Arts at The Hive for two people.
Third prize is two tickets to a performance of Queer Delights at Worcester Arts Workshop on Thursday, September 21 at 8pm.
Visit www.worcestershirepride.org for more on the event.