My Northern Pride 2022

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By Caroline Docking, Assistant Chief Executive at Newcastle Hospitals

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. 

We welcomed well over 100 people for support over the course of the day. The environment of Pride helps everyone to feel a little more confident and open which I’m sure allowed some really sensitive conversations to take place in a safe environment.

It was a privilege to spend the day with this team and their patients and I was really humbled to see the very deep care and compassion they bring to their work. It made me incredibly proud and I’m looking forward to joining them again next year if they will have me!

Did you know STI screening is freely available in Newcastle, you can request a DIY kit that you can do at home and post back to us. These can be ordered online and all the information you need can be found here: DIY sexual health testing – Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (newcastle-hospitals.nhs.uk)