NHS staff via NHSBSA

NHS workers across the country are joining an online celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.

Pride events have been cancelled around the world this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, so NHS England are inviting all of their LGBTQ+ staff and their allies to stand in solidarity with the community for their first ever Virtual Pride.

The event, which takes place this Friday (26 June), will be kicked off by the NHS’s chief people officer and is set to feature music, poetry, DJs and comedy, as well as video messages of support from some familiar faces.

2020 is the National Year of the Nurse and Midwife, so the event is in collaboration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council LGBT+ Staff Network, and aims to highlight LGBTQ+ nursing and their midwifery colleagues.

Vicky Adamczyk, Chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network, NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “This year is unique as we know, with all our NHS people working incredibly hard in challenging circumstances in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are doing as much as we can as a staff network to provide additional support.

“We’re especially conscious that for some LGBT+ individuals, being at home is not always a happy or safe place to be themselves, which is why it is so important we continue to create inclusive work environments and networks for LGBT+ staff and allies.”

Dr Michael Brady, National Advisor for LGBT Health, said it’s never been more important to “increase our efforts to address LGBT+ health inequalities and work to improve the experience of our NHS LGBT+ workforce.”

“While Covid-19 means we won’t be marching and celebrating as we would do normally, there are still many ways to celebrate pride, which is why I’ll be joining those taking part in Virtual Pride this Friday,” he explained.

The coronavirus pandemic has proven to have a disproportionate impact on the LGBTQ+ community.

According to a recent study by OutRight Action International, the LGBTQ+ community faces food and shelter insecurity due to job loss, disruptions in accessing healthcare and elevated risk of domestic and family violence.

Prerana Issar, chief people officer for NHS England, said the Virtual Pride will be there for “everyone who needs it – whatever their gender or sexuality – but also aspiration to welcome people from all walks of life and to champion diversity.”

She continued: “I’m delighted to be able to support this fantastic opportunity for NHS LGBT+ colleagues from across the country to celebrate Pride while also staying safe this weekend, led by members of our LGBT+ Staff Network, and I would encourage as many of our NHS people as possible to join us on Friday night.”

To get involved with NHS Virtual Pride, follow @VirtualNHSPride on Twitter or head to facebook.com/VirtualPride, and use the hashtag #NHSVirtualPride to join the conversation. Friday’s event will begin at 6pm.

Related: There is an emerging humanitarian crisis for LGTBQ+ people due to coronavirus.