Updated: Tuesday, 31st March 2020 @ 1:33pm

Manchester Pride patron admits charity had lost public's faith – but are setting it right now

Manchester Pride patron admits charity had lost public's faith – but are setting it right now

| By Josh Willacy

Manchester Pride lost its ability to engage with the public over recent years, the charity’s new Community Patron claims – but he believes their Be Involved campaign can set that right.

Manchester Pride are calling on people to have their say in this year’s Big Weekend through the Manchester Pride Community Collective.

Anthony Cooper, who was appointed the Community Patron for Manchester Pride and chair of the Community Collective, acknowledges that over recent years the charity lost their way.

Tony is the the general manager of Via on Canal Street, and has a long history of working with Manchester Pride, and community organisations throughout Manchester, Stockport, Rochdale and the Gay Village.

Mr Cooper, who is also general manager of Via on Canal Street, told MM: “It has always been important to engage with the public, but Manchester Pride lost this in recent years and after the listening groups that Manchester Pride held early this year, the organisation realised that it is time to actively engage with the whole community.

“There are going to be challenges and detractors but the collective is going to help set the direction of future Manchester Pride activities and is there for the community to say what they want to see.”

Pride came under fire last year as is it was revealed the amount of money the city centre event raised for LGBT and HIV charities had fallen by 60% over three years, with just £52,000 made in 2012.

Discussing the criticism Tony said: “Quite rightly it has been criticised, but so is every Pride event and we will never raise ‘enough’ but Manchester Pride still consistently announces a charity amount every year and this year will be no different.

“There have been many challenges with the costs of running such a massive event in a city centre but with new people involved and a team that are now committed to engagement we hope to massively improve on last year’s figure.

“The collective will be helping to look at how funds for the community fund are raised throughout the year not just the Big Weekend. One of the main things the collective will be pushing for is even more of the amazing volunteers to be on the ground shaking a bucket so we’re encouraging people to volunteer."

Tony’s sentiments were echoed by Pride Director Mark Fletcher who said: “2014 will see a strong focus on initiatives to increase the amount of donations that Manchester Pride is able to make to LGBT and HIV projects within the region.  

“We hope that this group will work with us to tap into the wealth of knowledge and creativity the community holds in order to further enrich this important objective for the festival.

“Our Be Involved initiative, and specifically the Community Collective, is a hugely important step for us to re-engage with and gain a stronger understanding of the ever changing needs of our community.  

“We believe that this opportunity to have their say will empower the community and renew its passion for Manchester’s iconic celebration of LGBT life.” 

The group’s mission is to provide crucial information and opinions from the LGBT population and their friends.  

They will test the waters with ideas that Pride has up its sleeve for 2014 and will meet every other month to discuss potential initiatives and give feedback on what the public really think.

Groups represented within the collective so far include LGBT Youth North West, Rainbow Families and Metropolitan Community Church.  

There is still a chance for those who represent LGBT groups across the region and individuals from the local community to get involved. 

Those who want to have their say and join the community collective should visit the Manchester Pride website

Image courtesy of Thompson Rivers University, with thanks.