Colleagues from Central England Co-op, the Co-op Group and Midcounties Co-op joined together to participate in Birmingham Pride, held in Birmingham City Centre on Saturday, 25 September.
Colleagues from the three co-operatives participated in the main parade as one unit, marching from the Town Hall to Hurst Street in Digbeth, where the main festival took place.
Prior to the march several speakers, including Peter Tatchell spoke to those about to parade about the reasons that Pride exists and how progress still needs to be made for true LGBTQIA+ to be achieved. Homophobic hate crimes have increased year on year since 2015.
Thousands of people lined the streets to cheer and celebrate those participating in the main march. The event had been twice cancelled due to Covid 19 and the Birmingham edition was the largest to take place post Covid 19 restrictions.
Approximately 30 Colleagues from the three societies waved flags, blew loudly on whistles, and handed out free items to the joyous audience. Items included Love heart Sweets with pro equality writing on, key rings and flags sharing the same message. Once the parade had concluded Central England Co-op had a stall within the main festival where colleagues continued to hand out freebies to Pride attendees.
Birmingham Pride has been deemed to be a great success by the three retail co-ops who attended. Supporting equality and diversity is a key part of being a co-operator and they look forward to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community in the future.
Laurence Braithwaite, who represented Central England Co-op as a membership and community council representative at Birmingham Pride, said. “It was great to be back after two years. We helped to put the “unity” back into “community” after a torrid 18 months.”
James Knight, member and community relations officer at Central England, added: “Attending Birmingham Pride with colleagues and members was amazing. The atmosphere and celebration of inclusion and diversity was wonderful to see. A brilliant way to show colleagues and members that whatever your sexuality is, it does not matter and we should all be proud and safe about who we are.
“Central England Co-op promoted membership in the Community Garden space while giving away lots of goodies to celebrate Pride.”