September 2021

Birmingham and Black Country universities join forces for Birmingham Pride

By Melanie Hall

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Six higher education institutions from across the city region will be sharing a message of unity with a joint float at this year’s Birmingham Pride parade.    

Aston University, Birmingham City University, University of Birmingham, University College Birmingham, Newman University and University of Wolverhampton are working as one to show support for the LGBTQ+ community at the city centre event on Saturday, 25 September.

UNIfied at Pride, made up of students and staff from each institution, will be one of around 40 floats making their way through the city – a highlight of the annual festival.

Cancelled last year due to Covid-19, the parade is set to be enjoyed by tens of thousands of participants, walking, marching or aboard decorated floats, with around 75,000 spectators expected to line the streets of Birmingham.

Festival Director Lawrence Barton said: "I am absolutely delighted that the universities have come together in solidarity and unity to support Birmingham Pride. This year's theme is 'stronger together' and it's only by working together that we can achieve all of our ambitions.

“Community is very much at the heart of this year's event with a free event taking place on Friday, 24 September, in the spirit of inclusivity and togetherness. The collective support from the universities is an accolade to them, our city and Birmingham Pride.”

"Pride is an opportunity to celebrate our diversity, and our strength as a community"

Alice Wilby Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Access, Participation and Student Experience at University College Birmingham

Dani Burrell, LGBTQ+ Staff Network Chair at Aston University, said: “Aston University have a thriving LGBTQ+ community and our inclusive Aston charter ensures that Aston fully supports those who identify as LGBTQ+.

“Being a part of something as special as UNIfied at Pride further enshrines our commitment not only to LGBTQ+ staff and students at Aston, but to the community as a whole. Pride has always been an important celebration of our beautiful and diverse community, and we are proud to be represented.”

Bev Cole, Chair of the Staff LGBT+ Network and Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at Birmingham City University, said: “This is, as far as we know, the first show of such collective unity between West Midlands universities at Pride. It is something we had started to plan even before the pandemic, so it is wonderful to finally bring our plans to fruition.

“At our university, there is a strong ethos of inclusion and active promotion of a culture where LGBTQ+ staff, students, visitors and allies are at the forefront of a vibrant collegiate community of equal respect and belonging. Our partnership in UNIfied at Pride is a natural extension of this.”

Professor Robin Mason, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) and Executive lead for LGBT+ equality at the University of Birmingham, said: “We are delighted to be able to work together with the other universities across the region, as part of UNIfied at Pride, to celebrate the return of Pride and once again demonstrate support for our LGBTQ+ community within the University.”

Alice Wilby, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Access, Participation and Student Experience at University College Birmingham, said: “Taking part in Pride with five other Midlands universities demonstrates our solidarity in supporting LGBTQ+ communities in higher education and beyond.

“We work hard to ensure an inclusive environment in which all of our students thrive and feel supported during their studies. We have a significant LGBT+ community at University College Birmingham, and Pride is an opportunity to celebrate our diversity, and our strength as a community.”

Alex Reston, President of the Students’ Union at Newman University, said: "It is amazing to see all the universities come together to show unified support for Pride this year. We have a great inclusive community here at Newman and believe that working together, we stand in unity with all members of the LGBTQ+ community and show what a great place Birmingham is.” 

Will Cooling, Head of Equality and Diversity at Wolverhampton University, said: “We are delighted to be working with colleagues from across the West Midlands to celebrate LGBT+ equality.

“The past 18 months have been exceptionally hard for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and non-binary people, with many of us having been separated from the people and places that have provided us with the safe spaces to be open and secure in our sexuality or gender identity.”

Since the first paid-for event in 2015, Birmingham Pride has awarded in excess of £380,000 to local community and support groups, providing much needed funds for essential services within the LGBTQ+ community.

It has helped to raise over £275k for LGBTQ+ projects, plus in excess of £105k in additional subsidies for LGBTQ+ organisations.

Free to attend, the Birmingham Pride parade starts at Victoria Square in the heart of the city centre from 11am and starts heading through the city from 12 noon towards the LGBTQ+ village, where festivalgoers can make their way to the main festival activities.

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