On 1st July 2019 we were astonished to hear the news that we’d been shortlisted in the National Diversity Awards, and as a result we were invited to attend the awards event in Liverpool on Friday 20th September at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.
Whilst being delighted to be considered worthy of placing in the top 8 LGBT+ Community Organisations nominated in the awards, this presented us with a challenge. We have a team of 40 volunteers currently contributing to our projects, making life better & safer within the LGBT+ communities of Leeds. With only 1 free ticket allocated and a 2nd offered at 50% discount the joy was a double-edged sword. How do we decide who deserves to attend, to be able to celebrate the recognition of their contribution to our communities and spend time with the awe-inspiring other groups/individuals from around the country who were also shortlisted for their incredible work?
We faced this challenge head on, with 10 of the team available and wishing to attend and therefore launched our Crowd-funder campaign to cover the event ticket costs, with a target of £1881.
Alongside the fundraising we were delighted to be offered free return train travel for the team from Trans Pennine Express trains, in recognition of our work with British Transport Police on Pride Friendly Train services (being present & visible on predesignated trains to accompany passengers back to Leeds after attending a number of Pride events across the region).
The response to our appeal has been a humbling experience, with the great news this week that we’ve achieved our fundraising goal with support from a number of organisations and individuals.
Around 50% of the funds were achieved through public donations and fundraising at the Leeds Pride Village Fete at Mill Hill Chapel so we’re extremely grateful to all those who made a personal contribution.
The team at Eversheds-Sutherland held an office cake bake sale, raising an incredible amount for us. This event received support from Flamingos Coffee House and their impressive rainbow cake.
Between 2 branches of GMB Union and their regional office around 25% of our target was contributed. The generosity of Panini Shack at Bridgewater Place brought us a significant step closer to target, before the Merrion Centre/Town Centre Securities & 3 Technology Ltd (3TL) pledged their support and tipped us over the amount required.
Any money raised over the required target will be used to recognise the full team of volunteers, to include those who aren’t attending Liverpool with any left-over going back into our project general funds.
Now we’re onto the final challenge – what are we going to wear to the event?!
Rob Wilson, founder & coordinator says:
“The whole process of the initial nomination and community support resulting in the shortlisting has been an emotional experience, with reading about the positive impact we’re having to improve the lives of our community and reflecting on what we’ve achieved since launching in December 2017.
Our volunteers make the Angels of Freedom project what it is today and it’s a pleasure for me to be involved with a group of selfless people making every effort to support others. It’s a shame that our entire team can’t attend the National Diversity Awards, but I’m looking forward to our team celebrating alongside the other shortlisted groups in our category and wish us all luck in the final.”
Lisa Stephenson, volunteer says:
“I am a fairly new volunteer however I have been overwhelmed by the support given by the LGBT+ community and various services in the Leeds area who have donated to our fundraising efforts. This has shown just how much we mean to the community even though we might not see or speak to everyone all of the time during our weekly sessions.
I find everyone in the team has their own contributions to make to give us a diverse and approachable group for anyone on a night out in the Freedom Quarter. I enjoy being part of this fantastic team and giving something back to the local area.”
Joanna Barrett, volunteer adds:
"Being nominated for a National Diversity Award is quite significant for the Angels of Freedom. It shows a recognition of the commitment of all team members to make Leeds even more LGBT+ friendly and supportive!
To receive support from so many different organisations in Leeds towards our attendance at the awards evening, gives us extra validation that our contribution to the city is paramount. On a personal level, attending such a prestigious event gives me the clear message that my role within the Angels of Freedom is recognised, valued and reinforces the importance of volunteering."
Donations are still being accepted on JustGiving, with new support going directly into supporting our project over the coming months.
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