Given that I’m a straight, middle aged woman, you could be forgiven for asking why I’m sharing my experience of Northern Pride, but equality has always mattered to me and I’m a proud member of the Trust’s LGBTQ+ allies.
I think it’s important to take practical action to support others, so this year I was delighted spend the festival day volunteering with our Newcastle Hospitals teams in the Health Zone, which included STI screening, chlamydia screening for 16 and 17 year olds, school nursing, breast screening advice and also support from our specialist learning disability nurse.
Our sexual health team take over a substantial tent in the Health Zone to run a full clinical STI screening with doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, and public health specialists manning the facility from 12 till 5 pm.
Members of the public can call in to be tested for syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and HIV – all conditions that I learned a lot about throughout the day. This year for the first time the team were also able to offer event specific PReP (PrEP – Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (newcastle-hospitals.nhs.uk) doses to protect people from HIV and facilitate conversations about PRep more generally.
I became an apprentice receptionist for the day welcoming patients into the clinic taking their details, explaining the service available and keeping the waiting room in order. I hope I was able to help people feel confident when they came in to see us. It was fascinating to meet those patients and hear a bit about their experience.