Pride London hit by volunteer walkout

Rachel Charman June 25, 2008

Members of Pride London’s production team have walked out with just ten days until the event.

Volunteer producer Ryan Haynes, who has been organising main stage acts for Pride London for six months, will hand over his duties this week.

Other volunteers involved in production have also given in their notice.

Mr Haynes, 25, said that he was “completely unsatisfied” with the organisation of Pride London, “not happy with the unprofessional approach” of management, and that there was “a complete lack of communication” at all levels.

Concern about Pride London has been expressed due to the lack of information about main stage acts just days before the event.

The biggest Pride parade in the UK will be held on July 5th.

After the parade, which marches through central London, there will be speeches in Trafalgar Square from leading politicians such as Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Labour’s Deputy Leader Harriet Harman and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and performances.

The last episode of the current series of popular sci-fi show Doctor Who will also be screened.

Some main stage guests and performers have been confirmed, including Sir Ian McKellen, singer-songwriter Sandi Thom, and vocalist Sade, but a full line-up has yet to be announced.

David Drury, Pride London’s Marketing and Communications Manager, said that it will be announced tomorrow, and has been delayed due to recent changes.

Journalist Lee Dalloway of QX magazine, commented:

“I am trying to put together a guide to Pride London ’08, but I’ve had serious problems trying to get information about the main stage line-up.

“I have sent emails and made phone calls to the press team at Pride London but my questions have mostly been brushed off.”

Ryan Haynes, who said he was mostly responsible for booking acts for the main stage, told

“I have contacted more than 12 gay publications and all are saying they have received no information about the main stage.

“I wanted to start meetings in July last year to discuss booking the acts [for Pride London 08]. That meeting was delayed until October.

“We had no go-ahead to start booking until February, and by that time most of the UK’s big LGBT stars were already booked for other events.”

He also claimed that gay celebrities such as Alan Carr and Amy Lamé have not received an invite to Pride London.

“I’m very disappointed,” Mr Haynes said.

“The production team worked hard, and we’re volunteers. We want Pride London to be the success that it was last year.

“With the way things are, I would be very surprised if Pride London is a smooth show this year.”

Other members of the Pride London team have been removed from the event by organisers.

Graham Fell, Volunteer Manager, was sacked on Monday night via email.

“I have been involved since January this year, although I was in conversations with Pride London organisers since October,” he said.

“I was in charge of recruiting and training volunteers. Pride requires around 400 volunteers to run smoothly.

“I had recruited a team of 500, but I was told that my motivational skills were not adequate and asked to leave.

“It was completely out of the blue. Nobody had ever raised concerns about my role before Monday night.”

Mr Fell described a host of problems with volunteers.

Around 20 from previous Pride London events said that they did not wish to be involved due to a lack of recognition for their support.

He claims that around 80 volunteers have said they do not wish to be contacted by Pride London again, although they gave no specific reasons.

Mr Fell also encountered technical setbacks in recruiting volunteers, as the Pride London recruitment website was not up and running until April of this year.

Volunteers at Pride London receive a reward card in return for their efforts, which entitles them to discounts in high street shops.

This year, Mr Fell said, the conditions of the reward cards have only been finalised with three shops and food outlets, and time to negotiate any more discounts is short.

He said: “Basically, volunteers have complained that the reward card is not worth the plastic it is printed on.”

Mr Fell told that sponsors have been pulling out of Pride London.

Ford Motor Company was reportedly providing T-shirts for volunteers, but has since withdrawn this sponsorship.

He claims at least one other sponsor has followed suit.

Responding on behalf of Pride London, Mr Drury said:

“We had a sponsor pull out at last minute and as a result, we will not be putting on acts in Leicester Square.

“Instead, we’ve added another stage to Soho – the BAME or Black, Asian, Ethnic Minorities stage.”

In response to rumours that Pride London is suffering from a lack on internal organisation, Mr Drury said:

“At the end of last year we felt it was a good time for us to review how our administration and sponsor liaison was carried out.

“As with any major reorganisation, there will always be a few teething problems because Pride London is almost entirely run by volunteers, including the board.

“It’s quite a challenge finding the right support for that, and the people to dedicate much of their spare time, on top of their jobs.

“We have almost entirely updated the way the charity works day-to-day.

“Traditionally we passed all of our work through the board, which was fine when we started off, however we have now grown to such a large event this is no longer practical.

“We now have a number of committees and this has gone some way to streamlining our work, and most importantly involving the community in their event.”

Pride London was formed in 2004 and is a registered charity. It is the UK’s largest Pride event.

This year, organisers expect to attract half a million people.

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