The provider of NHS mental health and disability services across Cumbria is encouraging everyone to get involved with virtual Pride celebrations today.

The Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, which provides support to those with mental health issues and learning disabilities across the county, is hoping to see a healthy turnout to the "NHS Virtual Pride" celebrations taking place today.

With the ongoing disruption caused by Covid-19, many pride events have been cancelled, such as Silloth Pride which was due to take place last weekend, and instead took place virtually.

In normal times, the trust's LGBT+ Network would be representing the NHS body at Pride events across Cumbria and the north east.

Continuing that tradition of supporting Pride events, the trust's network will be tuning in to the NHS' virtual pride events, beginning tonight at 6pm, which can be found by searching "Virtual NHS Pride" on Facebook or Twitter - and is hoping many across Cumbria will join them.

Simon Pearson, chairman of the Trust’s LGBT+ Staff Network, explained why Pride is a vital part of the fabric of today's society.

“Pride is a time when we can gather together to show the world how proud we are to be our authentic selves," he said.

"The feelings that we experience from Pride carry us through the days and months around this celebration.

“Being able to walk down any road holding hands with someone you share your life with should be happening every day, not just for Pride.

"The work the CNTW LGBT+ Staff Network does in our public engagements is all about trying to change hearts and minds so we can live our lives without fear of hate".

Christopher Rowlands, equality and diversity lead for the trust, added: “Whilst there has been improvements in LGBT+ equality nationally in recent years, research shows that LGBT+ people still face considerable barriers to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

"They face discrimination, bullying, and harassment in education, at work and on the streets, and greater inequalities in health satisfaction, access, experience and outcomes.

“The Trust is proud to be working with our LGBT+ Staff Network and national charity Stonewall to play our part in addressing these inequalities.”