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The Corporation

Posted: 22/06/22

Pride double celebrations at college

Colourful outfits and rainbow flags were on display as students and staff at West Nottinghamshire College marked Pride Month.

  • Students and staff from the college’s construction and engineering centres get set for their Pride walk, joined by volunteers from Ashfield Voluntary Action.
  • Apprentice technician Maddie Esswood and painting and decorating student Tasha Yates (first and second left) with Pride-themed items at the construction centre, with Ashfield Voluntary Action’s Elliot Thorpe and Emit Bee (third and fourth left).
  • Construction and the built environment student Toni Chapman (centre) prepares to give carpentry and joinery student William Walker a soaking in the stocks, watched by youth worker Ruth Lee holding the rainbow flag.
  • Students and staff from the college’s Derby Road and Chesterfield Road campuses prepare to embark on their Pride walk.
  • Public services student Ebony Hutton (back) and accounting and business student Paige Gartland with Pride-themed items on sale at the Derby Road campus.
  • Enjoying the Pride celebrations at the Derby Road campus are (from left) Dominic Middlebrook, Maddie Esswood, Romeo Phoenix, Ebony Hutton, Reuben Bagnall-Short and Paige Gartland.
  • Badge-making using rainbow designs was just one of the activities on offer.

The college staged back-to-back Pride events last week to give learners and staff at all its campuses an opportunity to celebrate and show their support for the LGBT+ community.

Its construction centre in Kirkby-in-Ashfield played host to the first event, on Wednesday 15 June, where those at the campus were joined by students and colleagues from the neighbouring engineering centre in Sutton-in-Ashfield for an afternoon of activities.

The following afternoon its Derby Road campus in Mansfield staged its own event, which was also attended by learners and staff from the college’s Chesterfield Road site in the town centre, courtesy of specially-arranged transport.

Participants of both celebrations enjoyed a variety of activities including badge-making, tie-dye crafts and face-painting, and the opportunity to throw a wet sponge at a friend or colleague in the rainbow-coloured stocks. Rainbow cakes and Pride-themed merchandise were on sale and people were treated to free giveaways of items including Pride flags and wristbands.

Representatives of community organisation Ashfield Voluntary Action held a stall at the first event, promoting its LGBT+ support services and selling items made by volunteers.

The centerpiece of both events was a ‘Pride walk’ on the streets around both campuses, where those taking part waived rainbow flags to show their own personal pride and solidarity with the LGBT+ community.

Each event was organised by a team of students and staff including Wayne Golding and Jay Ylanan from the welfare team, youth workers Ruth Lee and Laura Gray, apprentice technician Maddie Esswood, and painting and decorating student Maddie Bray-High.

The idea came from the college’s LGBT+ Student Focus Group, formed in February to provide a safe space for students to be themselves and explore their identity, make new friends, have their voice heard, discuss any issues they are facing, receive confidential and anonymous support, and have a sense of belonging.

The group was set up as part of the college’s ongoing work towards gaining the Rainbow Flag Award – a national quality assurance framework which focusses on positive LGBT+ inclusion and visibility for schools and colleges. 

Support coach Wayne Golding said: “At the very first meeting of our LGBT+ Student Focus Group, learners said they’d love to hold a celebration to mark Pride Month, involving a walk around the college and dressing up – so we decided to go all out and give them a really good experience. We felt it was important to show them we had listened to what they wanted.

“There were lots of activities at both events and they were very well supported by staff and students from all our campuses.

“The feedback has been brilliant. There were lots of smiling faces and students said it was amazing to have something like this, that they felt a greater part of the college and that we should definitely do this again.”