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Pride rejects management criticisms

Comment Comment June 26, 2008
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Yesterday published an article on the preparations for Pride London.

Here Colm Howard-Lloyd, a director of Pride London, responds.

I was quite mystified with yesterday’s article on, linking two unrelated departures from the Pride team with some complaints – yet to be directed to Pride London – from a rival publication, in order to create an overall story when there really was none.

In the run up to the event, the workload increases quite massively.

Decisions that may have been put back have to be made, there are many evening and weekend meetings, and the sheer sight of the event approaching so rapidly can be daunting.

As such, we lose volunteers who find the strain a bit much or just didn’t realise quite how much planning goes in to the event, every single year.

We have approximately 70 people in key roles throughout the event, and we’re aware that people will come and go as the event develops. This is very common for voluntary organisations, but hardly the basis for a story – it’s not news.

Of the two individuals rather oddly linked together, one, Ryan Haynes, was a valued Assistant Producer and the rest of the team found his help in booking acts very useful.

Ryan has made several complaints about the work involved in working on the main stage, and his walkout appears to have arisen at the time Doctor Who was proposed to be screened on the Trafalgar Square big screen.

It is somewhat of a puzzle to the rest of his team, and indeed us, why this great opportunity for the charity was such a problem for him personally.

There have been a number of instances where Ryan’s temperamental nature has caused problems for Pride London, and this may well be one more instance.

The other volunteer you mention, Graham Fell (one of Pride London’s volunteer coordinators), has indeed been asked to step-down from volunteering with the charity.

There have been serious concerns with Graham’s ability to handle his role, and most recently it was seen that suitable preparations had not been made for a key volunteer training event.

As we are so close to the event, the Chief Steward felt that he had no option but to remove him from that role, both because of past behaviour and because of the risk that further vital training would be inadequately handled.

As to him being aware of twenty or so volunteers that don’t want to work with Pride London again, this is quite feasible – we have approximately 400 people working with us every year, and some do not like the strains of the event, have personality clashes or have a welter of other reasons for deciding that volunteering isn’t for them.

Having twenty or so that wouldn’t return may well reflect the circumstances that they left in over the years.

But from the 1,000 odd people that have worked with Pride London since 2004, that’s not a very high refusal rate.

His assertion that 80 people have asked not to be contacted again presumably relates to our volunteer database.

We maintain contact details of the previous year’s volunteers and people subscribe throughout the year to that. We contact those people to see if they still wish to volunteer at the event, and get a variety of responses – some people have moved, have other commitments, or simply don’t feel like it that year.

They will advise us of that, and of course they are removed from the database. To use people unsubscribing from a mailing list as some sort of basis for a general sense of malaise, as Graham has done, is quite preposterous.

Graham goes on to make some frankly bizarre comments about Pride London’s sponsors.

The Ford Motor Company has a long association with the event: they are not sponsoring the steward T shirts (this opportunity to support the charity has already been taken up by V-Water) but they are a headline sponsor and the sponsor of the Ford Pride London Football Tournament.

He is correct to say that one sponsor withdrew from the event this year, or at least decided not to proceed with their sponsorship.

This is quite common as budgets and priorities change for large companies.

Unfortunately this has meant that the charity has had to take the difficult decision to remove the Leicester Square Cabaret Stage from our programme this year.

As pointed out in a recent article, Pride London costs a significant amount of money to put on, but since we took over the event we have had a consistent history of “balancing” our books – something that has been rare for Pride events in the past.

We continue to pursue sponsors, donations and other forms of funding and I’m hopeful this stage will return next year.

And on a final note I am most disappointed that QX magazine has chosen to isolate itself amongst the gay press and attack rather than support Pride events.

Information about the acts appearing on all of our stages has been published via our website for some months.

Lee Dalloway receives the same media releases from Pride London as and the wealth of stories here will attest to the fact that we are far from shy about the event!

I’m not sure who the “press team” he refers to are – we have only one voluntary press officer – but the other few volunteers that we have in communications and marketing work extremely hard and have been particular distressed at this outrageous and shameless vituperation.

I do hope that these two minor hiccups will not detract from the hard work that hundreds of other volunteers put into Pride London.

They are a dedicated, motivated and proud bunch and do not deserve to have their event smeared across the press to sooth two bruised egos.

This year’s event is going to be fantastic. I look forward to seeing you, and your readers there.

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