Volunteering with PRIDE

My name is Nina Reardon, I have been a volunteer with Saint Francis Hospice's OrangeLine service since November 2017. 

I have had many great experiences whilst volunteering for the Hospice. One of the most uplifting and invigorating opportunities I have experienced was the invitation to participate in the London Pride parade on 7th July 2018, walking with the London Hospices.  

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It was a very hot day and armed with my instructions for the day, parade wristband, copious amounts of water, sunscreen, branded London Hospice merchandise and a liberal application of glitter, I arrived at Portland Place. The first thing that struck me on arrival was not the heat but the love, warmth and pride exuding from the other participants in the parade. Lots of people in colourful costumes, friendly faces and helpful stewards lined the way on my walk to our designated meeting point. I arrived early and had a little panic that I was at the wrong place, but other colleagues arrived from the London Hospices in their yellow branded t-shirts and this put my mind at rest. 

The Saint Francis Hospice team arrived, and we socialised with each other - the other hospices gathered at the meeting point, all united in our caring for everybody ethos.

IMG_0866 (cropped)At 1pm the crowd all sang Happy Birthday to the NHS contingent who were leading the parade in honour of their 70th Birthday and we began to walk. I was amazed at the volume and diversity of the crowds, consisting of adults, children and teenagers as we passed them some said hello, some said thank you for our services, some just wanted a high five and others were interested in the branded merchandise we were handing out with the strapline of "Living and dying with pride". 

I had a smile permanently on my face, as the love and support given to those in the parade was phenomenal. Even though I was hot and a little bit tired at the end I felt content and euphoric. 

If any volunteers see this opportunity advertised next year, I would recommend volunteering for it. It really is an experience not to be missed and a perfect opportunity to get the palliative message across to the LGBTQ+ community. It's better than seeing a double rainbow!!