2 journeys to Pride

Ever wondered if you could be a part of Pride with Girlguiding?

14 June 2023

Every year, Pride celebrations take place in cities across the UK and all over the world.

Girlguiding Ulster took part in their first Pride event last year, and Girlguiding Essex South East county plans to do the same this year.

What did Ulster do?

Last year, Girlguiding Ulster proudly marched in the Belfast Pride parade.

'We wanted to show our faces in solidarity,' inclusion adviser Sophie tells us.

In a conversation with Ulster’s chief commissioner, Sophie was asked to lead the region to Pride for the first time. The region’s leadership team agreed that attending Pride would be a great opportunity, especially as there were a group of leaders in the area who were passionate about being part of it.

Discussions about the who, what, where and when soon followed: 'We had a WhatsApp group, and we all chatted about where to meet, what to wear and if anyone had face paints to bring along or funky hats.'

When the day of the Belfast Pride finally arrived, Ulster felt their hard work planning had paid off. Sophie shares: 'The atmosphere was great. It was refreshing to see so many likeminded people. It can be easy to forget that there are many people who want to celebrate everyone in the LGBTQ+ community at this incredible festival.'

A special moment for Sophie during the parade was when she noticed a mother and her daughter standing on the side. As Girlguiding marched past, the mother bent down to her daughter and exclaimed happily, 'Oh, look!'

Sophie recalls: 'They were really happy to see representation from Girlguiding. You feel like you’re making a bit of history.'

Following the success of last year’s Pride attendance, Girlguiding Ulster plans to return this year.

What did Girlguiding Essex South East county do? 

This summer, Essex South East county will be attending Southend Pride. This will be the county’s first time attending Pride, led by Meg and a buzzing team of volunteers. Meg shares: 'If we want people to know that Girlguiding is a safe space for them, we have to go out there and let them know.' 

Since the beginning of this year, Meg and her team have been working hard to make sure that their county joins Pride this summer.  

To make planning easier and tackle worries about ratios, Meg has decided on a ‘community centred’ approach for their attendance at Pride, encouraging members and young members to attend with their families.  

Meg has two important tips for any unit or region that wants to march in a Pride parade. First, get a team together. Secondly, don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Meg says: 'You’ll be surprised at what support is out there.'

How else can we get involved with Pride?

Pride is just the beginning for Girlguiding Ulster and Girlguiding Essex South East county.

Pride is a celebration of love and acceptance, but it can also be an opportunity to talk and learn. Sophie says representation is an important first step for creating a culture where we can have honest conversations. She plans to hold a fundraising and crafts activity with her unit during Pride.

As well as attending the Pride parade, Meg is hoping to host a myth-busting activity at the stall she has secured for the day: 'People are still carrying old perceptions of us. We want to have a conversation with the public to let them know that we’ve changed. We want to be authentic.'

Arranging a stall is an opportunity for Meg and her volunteers to let the public know that we are helping members to be proud of who they are and to be welcoming towards others.

Girlguiding’s ambition is to be a place where everyone is welcome, is free to be themselves, and has an equal sense of belonging – whoever they are and wherever they’re from. Together, let’s continue to march forward.

Are you planning to attend a Pride event this summer? Tell us all about it by emailing [email protected]