Celebrating Pride with Challengers

We are very excited to share that Challengers will have a stall at Pride in Surrey for the very first time this year, thanks to our Play and Youth Leader Harry. Here they explain why Pride celebrations are so important to them, and the wider community.

One of my favourite things about working at Challengers is how inclusivity is a natural part of everything we do. You don’t work, volunteer or attend Challengers unless you are passionate about supporting, listening and advocating for communities that are often neglected. This means that when I went to Surrey Pride two years ago, it seemed odd to me that Challengers wasn’t there. Walking around in a rainbow dress, with face paint on, singing loudly and dancing – felt like another day at work. Everyone I spoke to at work loved the idea of having a Challengers stall at Pride, so when we found out Pride in Surrey 2024 was taking place in Stoke Park (approximately 3 feet away from our main building) it felt like fate!

Pride is such an important event to so many people. It’s a time to be yourself in a safe space where there is no pressure to be perfect or someone you aren’t. I have loved all the Pride events I have been to since coming out, however as part of the disabled community, we often get forgotten and neglected – whether that’s lack of accessible toilets, no quiet spaces, no hearing aid loops, or restrictive ‘no external food’ policies. Children and young people are also often forgotten in queer spaces, even though every child as a right to be themselves and celebrate their differences. These two communities often don’t get the chance to safely explore their gender or sexuality, so our aim is to bring our inclusive approach to Pride and help bring about positive change.

Happy Pride!

By taking part in Pride in Surrey this year, Challengers is letting the community know that we’re an organisation which is proud to be inclusive, and we hope to educate others on the importance of including disabled people, children and teenagers. As the stall organiser, my aim is to create a space that allows young, disabled queer people (and anyone in-between) to access the fun and silliness of freely being yourself. We will be sharing resources, activities and advice on how to do this, including lots of diverse story books, games and fantastic activities including colourful messy play.

As a small charity we are always growing and learning, so we’ll be there to learn from others’ experiences too! As a diverse and welcoming staff team, we always want to invite more people from all walks of life to join our “orange family” – whether that’s as staff, volunteers, or families accessing our services.

I’ll end on saying Happy Pride month, and I hope to see many of you at Pride in Surrey on Saturday 21st September in Stoke Park, Guildford.