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The Outstanding Diversity Forum’s London Pride march 2024

05 Jul 2024

4 min read

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  • Good news story

We hear the story of the Outstanding Diversity Forum’s Pride march, which included teams from care organisations across the sector.

Pride celebrations are much more than just festivities. They are a testament to the resilience, diversity, and unity of the LGBTQ+ community. While Pride is often associated with celebrating identity and love, it is also a crucial platform for addressing the various challenges faced by the community. Representation of social care services in Pride celebrations is essential.

Sanjay Dhrona, Outstanding Society Director and MD of The Close Care Ƶ, took a significant step toward this by creating The Outstanding Society’s Outstanding Diversity Forum (OSDF). He decided to bring Pride in adult social care to the forefront by organising a march with prominent social care figures at Pride in London.

The Outstanding Diversity Forum aims to raise awareness, build trust, advocate for change, and celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ community and the social care sector. By highlighting the critical role of social care, Pride events can help ensure that every individual receives the support and services they need to thrive.

Thrilled. Excited. Humbled. These three words describe my emotional state at the moment. The support of the sector and the meaningful leap forward we are making to support those we care for and work within this amazing sector is awesome. For the first time ever, we are representing our openness and inclusivity to the world. Like the theme of London Pride 2024, 'We Are Everywhere,' we get to say it loud and proud that the LGBTQ+ community is in adult social care too!

The event was supported by OSDF Sponsor, Virgin Money. Derek Briegnan, Head of Health and Social Care at Virgin Money, shared his excitement about the initiative.

At Virgin Money, we have a culture of inclusion and trust, and as an ally of diversity, equity, and inclusion, I am really delighted to be able to support the OS at Pride 2024 and the work Sanjay is doing with the Outstanding Diversity Forum.

The march included teams from Care England, The NMC, NCF, NCA, The CQC, Bevan Brittan, Care UK, Majesticare, Championing Social Care, The Close Care Ƶ, Caring Ƶs, LDC Care, Berkley, Bracebridge, HC One, Nourish, VIVALDI Social Care, PainChek, Autumna, Care Show, Shared Lives Plus, Lifeways, Social Care Nursing Advisory Councils (SCNACs), Cavalry Healthcare, Achieve Together, and Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions.

LDC Care's Director, Lara Bywater, who is also a Director of The Outstanding Society, said:

At LDC Care Co, we have always been committed to inclusion and have always advocated for the people we support and our staff team. We have seen the value of running our own Pride events over the last few years and were automatically delighted at the opportunity to be part of London Pride. The overwhelming and consuming sense of love, acceptance, and support was unimaginable. The reaction of the three people we support who were in the group was incredible. They went from being nervous to incredibly proud and embraced fully by their new family of 2 million people.

Hope Lightowler, a Shared Lives Plus ambassador who marched, highlighted the importance of this representation:

As a queer person who accesses social care, I often feel invisible. Many queer spaces aren't accessible to those with disabilities, and we often become invisible as people see our disability and forget that we can also be queer. People forget we are adults who still want real relationships, so often we have to combat both ableism and homophobia or transphobia. That's why it's important and so emotional to be walking in London Pride.

Karen Roberts, Lifeways Head of Health and Clinical Governance, RNLD, Queens Nurse, and Co-chair Northeast and Yorkshire Social Care Nursing Advisory Council, also expressed her joy in participating.

Lifeways is a hugely diverse organisation, and we celebrate that vibrant diversity. We want to ensure that each one of us at Lifeways is represented—whether that’s through culture, religion, sexual orientation, or simply as a unique individual. We are delighted to be taking part in London Pride this year on behalf of Lifeways and The Outstanding Society.

Rory McDonnell, CEO of Cavalry Group, shared his personal journey:

I was subject to some quite bad homophobic attacks, which meant I dropped out of school with no A levels. I ended up incredibly depressed about being gay and felt suicidal. I took a job and was advised by my manager to hide the fact that I was gay as no one would take me seriously. I now run Cavalry Group and employ hundreds of people across our healthcare and recruitment companies. I’m proud to create a space where people can be celebrated for being their authentic selves. I’m now so glad to be a part of the LGBT community!

Samantha Crawley, Outstanding Society Director and CEO of Bracebridge Care Group, described the experience as unforgettable:

It was such an honour and privilege to be part of London Pride. Walking with team members from Bracebridge Care Group, fellow directors of the OS, and so many sector colleagues was one of the most special days I have ever experienced. The streets were filled with joy, hope, love, kindness, and sunshine as we marched together as a wholly cohesive Social Care Sector. The Outstanding Diversity Forum will no doubt continue to thrive in a sector filled with hearts of gold and open minds.

Debbie Harris, CEO of Autumna, echoed these sentiments:

"I marched with my husband and stepdaughter and felt such an outpouring of joy and love the whole day. I have quite honestly never felt anything like it. The most inclusive and happy day of celebration!

Looking ahead, the Outstanding Diversity Forum plans to expand its presence beyond London, attending Manchester, Brighton, and Birmingham Pride events between 2025 and 2028. They are also working on a language guide to facilitate LGBTQ+ conversations and a training module to continue fostering inclusion.

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