A Day in the Life

Publish Date: 18/09/2012

 

Steph tells us about her summer of Prides..

"When I tell my friends I spent my summer working at Prides up and down the country I’m usually met with a jealous glare and a ‘why do I work in a bank…’ type of response. Well, they are right to be jealous! We had lots of fun, but we’ve also been doing a bucket load of work to promote our ‘Are You Ready for Your Screen Test’ campaign.

The campaign aims to raise awareness among lesbian and bisexual women that they should be going for regular cervical screen tests. It’s been my job to take this crucial message to women all over the country. Time to take you on a whistle stop tour of what the team and I really get up to when prides come knocking!

Brighton Pride has a reputation for being a bit of a mecca for LGBT people across the land, so we were pretty excited to get a chance to take our campaign there. Driving through the city we were thrilled to see the plethora of rainbow flags adorning nearly every building front. Brighton seemed a city where everyone embraced Pride, whether or not they identified as LGBT themselves, showing support and solidarity.

We headed to the Pride site in Preston Park and get ready for a day of outreach work. I’ll be honest, there’s always a moment of trepidation when you prepare to stand in a public place, with a clipboard, smiling at strangers. This is why I am so grateful for the frankly magnificent volunteers that we have assisting us here at the LGF. As we were setting up the stall I thought it wise to double check with one of our volunteers that he was happy to go and talk to women about their cervixes. His response was a swift, “Of course, it’s so important. Let’s get going!”

After an essential cup of tea (and a couple of equally essential bourbons) we made sure we were ready, clipboards in hand, to get as many women signed up to our campaign as possible. In those first moments before approaching my first ladies, I heard something my Mother had asked me the week before going around in my head, “Don’t women feel uncomfortable talking about their cervixes?” Well the answer to that dearest Mother of mine is no! The vast majority of women I have spoken to at Pride events this year have been more than happy to share their experiences and stories of cervical screening, which is just what we are trying to encourage through this campaign.

An encouraging number of women were happy to sign up. Which I think is testament to how much lesbian and bisexual women want to talk about their health care experiences. Either that or the offer of a free key-ring torch for every sign up was just too much to handle!

It’s when I do work like this however, that I realise how essential our campaigns are. The amount of women I spoke to who told me of their experiences of being actively discouraged by their doctors to go for their cervical screen tests was really surprising. And the level of support I got from women who had friends that had sadly been affected by cervical cancer was very moving. I even spoke to one woman who didn’t have an email address but created one on the spot using my iPhone just so she could be involved in our campaign!

After filling a fair few pages with women’s details, our voices were all but gone and our stash of key-ring torches had been obliterated so we called it a day.

On my way to the train station I walked past the beautiful sculpture created by Romney Mark Bruce as a HIV memorial. A friend of mine told me that the sculpture had run out of funding halfway through its creation, and had only been finished through kind donations from the local community. I though this a poignant reminder of why I had been sent to Brighton, and all those other Prides. To connect directly with communities that care, and want to see change. Without support and input from those women I met at all of those Prides our campaign would not work. So thank you ladies of the UK, for not running in the opposite direction when I came and asked you about your cervix! We couldn’t do this without you."

For more information visit www.lgf.org.uk/screening