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The past two years have highlighted how much we value healthcare workers – whether it’s A&E doctors, care home assistants, mental health therapists or staff in other areas.

To mark Pride, we’ve spoken to some healthcare workers in the LGBTQ+ community about the work they do and their hopes for the future.

They reflect on the past 50 years of LGBQT+ healthcare and look ahead to what progress still needs to take place.

This is what some of these LGBTQ+ healthcare heroes had to say…

‘Pride is an annual reminder that everyone deserves acceptance’

Jon Smith, neuropsychiatry advanced nurse practitioner

Jon, from Liverpool, furosemide fluid lungs is 32 and has been a mental health nurse in the NHS for more than 12 years.

He works at the The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, supporting the neuropsychiatry service for both inpatients and outpatients. Jon’s role involves speaking to patients and colleagues, carrying out assessments and forming a plan to ensure the team are considering a patient’s holistic needs.

‘I guess for me my favourite part of my job is the contact with patients and helping those who need the support,’ Jon tells Metro.co.uk.

‘The team are available, accessible, responsive and we achieve positive outcomes. We also have opportunity to work with other disciplines closely. I learn something new every day.’

Jon says he hopes one day everyone is accepted for who they are – both in and outside of healthcare.

‘I hope stigma reduces even more so and everybody feels equal,’ he adds.

‘I wonder if, with the increased knowledge about the LGBTQ+ community, more and more members of the LGBTQ+ community will feel comfortable to be themselves more.’

But he stresses that the past two years have given him hope that this will be possible in the future.

Jon continues: ‘It’s been an extraordinary time for healthcare professionals across the world over the last couple of years, but one thing I’ve seen is that everyone, regardless of who they are, can come together and work towards the same goal: in this case protecting people during a global pandemic. 

‘Pride is an annual reminder that we matter, that everyone deserves acceptance and that everyone has a right to live peacefully in society.’

‘I’m grateful I can come to work without fear of persecution or judgement’

Orani Abeyewardene, paramedic

Orani Abeyewardene is 28 years old and moved from Sydney to London six years ago – where she joined the London Ambulance Service.

She’s been working as a paramedic in North London ever since. Her role involves responding to emergency calls and treating patients with a range of medical problems.

Orani says: ‘My favourite thing about being a paramedic is getting to help people from all walks of life, all over London. Every day is different and I enjoy always being on the move. Driving on blue lights is pretty fun, too.’

The 28-year-old, who is of Sri Lankan heritage, adds: ‘As part of the LGBTQ+, BAME, and neurodivergent communities, I have a lived experience of intersectionality. I have always appreciated how welcoming and accepting the London Ambulance Service is of people from all walks of life. 

‘My job can be quite challenging at times but the sense of camaraderie and support that we offer each other is a very special thing to be a part of. 

‘I am grateful that I am able to come to work without fear of persecution or judgement. This, of course, has not always been the case and – as we mark 50 years of Pride – I’d like to thank those who paved the way for people like me and acknowledge the struggles and hardship they experienced in the fight for freedom that we enjoy today.’

In terms of looking ahead to the next 50 years, Orani hopes to see the stigma surrounding LGBTQ+ healthcare abolished.

‘Donating blood is good example of where I believe dated views of the LGBTQ+ community exist – particularly for gay men,’ she continues. ‘This of course is just one area where LGBTQ+ people face a lack of understanding and are treated differently.

‘I hope to see more inclusive language, education for healthcare professionals and potential adjustments to help reduce the disparities that LGBTQ+ people face in the healthcare setting. I would like “coming out” to be a thing of past as I don’t feel that people should face assumptions regarding their sexuality or gender.

‘The one thing that we can all do day-to-day is approach our fellow humans with compassion and empathy. Put simply, let’s be kind to each other and more importantly kind to ourselves.’

Help us raise £10k for Kyiv Pride and a UK LGBT+ charity

To celebrate 50 years of Pride, Metro.co.uk has teamed up with Kyiv Pride to raise money for their important work in Ukraine.

Despite war raging around them, Kyiv Pride continue to help LGBTQ+ people, offering those in need shelter, food and psychological support.

We will be splitting the cash with a grassroots charity closer to home.

You can donate here

‘My job makes me a better person. It’s empowering’

Anthony Davis, counsellor and BACP psychotherapist

Anthony, from Vauxhall, is 36 years old and has been a practicing psychotherapist for three years – offering therapy for adults with varying mental challenges, such as depression, anxiety, bereavement, stress, relationship issues and workplace stress.

He splits his time working both privately and for the NHS.

‘I specialise in working with the LGBTQ+ community, particularly those struggling with their gender and sexual orientation or those who have experienced discrimination due to their sexual orientation. And, similarly, I work with BAME clients who have experienced racial/ethnic discrimination and other types of racial trauma,’ explains Anthony.

‘Being a Black gay man myself, I understand and empathise with this group, and I want to do what I can to help them.

‘When I chose to move to private psychotherapy, I found a lot of clients started to contact me who were also from marginalised groups like the LGBTQ+ community. 

‘People prefer to see a therapist who is like them and who they can relate to. This has allowed me to build a client base who are predominantly LGBTQ+ and it is so fulfilling for me to be able to help them through some of the similar struggles I have faced in my life.

‘My job makes me a better person and it’s empowering. I like helping people understand themselves, make steps towards positive life changes and encourage people to live life with purpose.’

Anthony says the NHS employing a new LGBTQ+ advisor has helped in spearheading progression towards expelling stigma and prejudice. And while things are moving in the right direction, he says change is ongoing and there is still more work to be done.

He adds: ‘I would love there to be more training and understanding of the nuances of the LGBTQ+ community around sexual identity and relationship styles – particularly in the trans community. 

‘Sexual orientation is pretty normalised now but the trans community needs a lot more attention. Particularly with regards to making access to hormones quicker and more accessible, not making it incredibly difficult to access the care and the therapeutic support needed. 

‘We need to be empathetic and looking at every person as a human being.’

‘I enjoy using my experience to educate people on LGBTQ+ issues’

Callum Newman, care assistant

Callum is 20 years old and is from Cambridge. He works as a care assistant for Anchor’s Nelson Lodge care home and has been in his current role for a year.

‘My favourite part of the job is spending time with residents, as well as engaging and delivering person-centred care to meet their needs. I particularly like working with residents who are living with dementia and getting to know about their lives, it’s really rewarding. I think working in a care home is a huge privilege,’ he tells Metro.co.uk.

Callum says that working in a care home during a pandemic has been a particularly challenging time – but has brought the team closer together as they care for the residents.

Reflecting on Pride and looking ahead to the next 50 years of LGBTQ+ healthcare, Callum adds: ‘I think care homes and Anchor, in particular, are doing well right now. They are taking steps and making it normal to be part of the LGBTQ+ community in healthcare – like it should be.

‘No one should be embarrassed – however they feel.

‘As time moves on, I think it will continue to get easier to be openly part of the LGBTQ+ community within health and social care, in line with how things are within the rest of society. 

‘I feel very accepted in my role with Anchor and enjoy using my experience to continue to educate people on LGBTQ+ issues.’

Metro.co.uk celebrates 50 years of Pride

This year marks 50 years of Pride, so it seems only fitting that Metro.co.uk goes above and beyond in our ongoing LGBTQ+ support, through a wealth of content that not only celebrates all things Pride, but also share stories, take time to reflect and raises awareness for the community this Pride Month.

MORE: Find all of Metro.co.uk’s Pride coverage right here

And we’ve got some great names on board to help us, too. From a list of famous guest editors taking over the site for a week that includes Rob Rinder, Nicola Adams, Peter Tatchell, Kimberly Hart-Simpson, John Whaite, Anna Richardson and Dr Ranj, we’ll also have the likes Sir Ian McKellen and Drag Race stars The Vivienne, Lawrence Chaney and Tia Kofi offering their insights. 

During Pride Month, which runs from 1 – 30 June, Metro.co.uk will also be supporting Kyiv Pride, a Ukrainian charity forced to work harder than ever to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community during times of conflict. To find out more about their work, and what you can do to support them, click here.

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Metro.co.uk celebrates 50 years of Pride

This year marks 50 years of Pride, so it seems only fitting that Metro.co.uk goes above and beyond in our ongoing LGBTQ+ support, through a wealth of content that not only celebrates all things Pride, but also share stories, take time to reflect and raises awareness for the community this Pride Month.

MORE: Find all of Metro.co.uk’s Pride coverage right here

And we’ve got some great names on board to help us, too. From a list of famous guest editors taking over the site for a week that includes Rob Rinder, Nicola Adams, Peter Tatchell, Kimberly Hart-Simpson, John Whaite, Anna Richardson and Dr Ranj, we’ll also have the likes Sir Ian McKellen and Drag Race stars The Vivienne, Lawrence Chaney and Tia Kofi offering their insights. 

During Pride Month, which runs from 1 – 30 June, Metro.co.uk will also be supporting Kyiv Pride, a Ukrainian charity forced to work harder than ever to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community during times of conflict. To find out more about their work, and what you can do to support them, click here.

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