Pride Bristol are giving away tickets to community groups, housing associations and charities whose service users may not be able to afford to buy them. Although the £8 early bird tickets to attend Pride Day on Saturday 16 July cost not much more than a cinema ticket, Pride Bristol are aware that disadvantaged members of the community who wish to attend the festival may find it difficult to raise the funds for entry into Castle Park.
One of the most important motivations for the not-for-profit organisation is the need to give vulnerable people a voice to highlight issues which disproportionately affect them, particularly if it is because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Pride Bristol are currently working with HIV and AIDS charities The Brigstowe Project and The Terrence Higgins Trust, and are looking to extend this engagement to other charities including NOVAS Scarman who support disadvantaged people and community groups in and around the city. They are working to give these organisations and their service users the opportunity to make their work and their causes known to the wider Bristol community.
Many of these organisations, which are essential to thousands of Bristolians, are being severely affected by proposed cuts to charity sector support. The Brigstowe Project was to see all of their funding from Bristol City Council cut next year, but this was successfully fought by the centre manager and service users.
The Brigstowe Project and the THT provide support, advice and access to services for many of those living with HIV and AIDS. Their work is increasingly vital, as new diagnoses of HIV infections in the UK have doubled in the past ten years there are an estimated 3,500 people living with HIV and AIDS in South West England, of which a quarter are undiagnosed. Heterosexual transmission rates are rising quickly in 2010 heterosexual sex accounted for 42 % of HIV diagnoses, compared to 31 % in 1995.
These figures make for chilling reading, especially in light of proposed funding cuts to charities whose mandate it is to educate and inform those at risk, as well as those who provide support to their service users. Despite this there is scant media coverage of the HIV/AIDS crisis.
The increase in usage of effective medication for HIV/AIDS is extending and improving the lives of people with the disease, however, contrary to the perception of much of the media, this does not mean that there is no longer an AIDS crisis. HIV/AIDS is still a major health issue in the UK, and charities are looking for greater media coverage in order to inform and educate the public and help stem the tide of new infections.
Paul Housden, offender service manager, NOVAS Scarman Group said:” Novas Scarman Group run Support Services that help individuals experiencing homelessness, problems with addiction, domestic violence, problems following offending and many other situations where people need assistance with moving forward. Many of our service users come from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community in Bristol, and many of them live on only what is provided by the benefits system or alternatively have jobs that only pay the minimum wage.”
” It is for this reason that we are particularly grateful to the Pride Bristol organisers for donating some free tickets to the festival so that we can enable some of our most socially excluded service users to participate in the upcoming celebration. It is great to live in a City where the fact that you come from the GLBT community is a matter of “pride” and we wish the organisers every success for what I am sure will be a truly outstanding event. On behalf of our service users, I thank Pride Bristol for their generous contribution that will enable so many of them to actually take part in a community event that means so much to them. Novas Scarman look forward to working with Pride Bristol both now and in the future in helping to challenge and defeat the issues of social exclusion and discrimination associated with being a member of the GLBT community.” Mr Housden continued.
The Brigstowe Project’s David Whittaker said : “Brigstowe works with a huge range of people many already familiar with the Pride movement, but also many from countries where being gay is against the law and Pride helps educate the public about sexuality and HIV. That’s got to be a good thing, and why we’re keen to be part of the party.”
Pride Bristol Director Daryn Carter said: “Although Pride is a great day out, and one of those days with a real community feel, free tickets hopefully mean that all of the people we work with who want to be part of Pride can be, and – touch wood! – some of those who wouldn’t normally choose to go will give it a try.”