Find out more from Pritpal Bhullar, Sarbat volunteer based near London.
I have been a volunteer for a charity called Diversity Role Models (DRM) for about 5 years. It is a charity which actively seeks to embed inclusion and empathy in the next generation, which will in time lead to a world where future generations embrace, accept and support difference. DRM do this by facilitating workshops in schools by creating safe spaces where participants can explore difference and consider their role in creating a world where we all feel accepted. All the workshops feature LGBT+ or ally role models who speak openly about their lived experiences, building participants’ empathy so they can understand the (often unintended) impact of their language and actions. As a volunteer Role Model and Facilitator, I have run workshops for pupils ranging from 5 years old, all the way up to 18 years old, as well as Parent/Carer and Teacher sessions – all workshops are tailored for the target audience and age appropriate.
Participating in these workshops is extremely rewarding and I feel ever so positive about the future, particularly as many young people don’t see differences as a threat but as an advantage, and they can be so illuminating in many ways in the way that they embrace differences, however there are still challenges that need to be overcome as some students openly express concern about the different messages they pick up in their homes.
Having delivered workshops at Pipers Corner School in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire last year, the school invited me back this year to officially open a Rainbow Pedestrian Crossing which the school have installed as a visible symbol of inclusion for all who attend the school.
This was an initiative driven by the students at the school who wanted to make clear their intentions about embracing difference and ensuring their school is a safe place for all. It was an honour to be asked to represent DRM to do this, but it also coincided with the 20th anniversary of the lifting of the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual people serving in the British Armed Forces and I also had the opportunity to be present for an important event, where the Minister of State for Defence People and Veterans apologised on behalf of the British government for the way lesbian, gay and bisexual service personnel were treated until the ban was lifted in 2000.
DRM rely on LGBT+ and allies for role modelling in their workshops in schools across the country. It is important that people of faith and the BAME community also volunteer to assist in this work. If you would like to learn more about DRM and their work, check out their website: https://www.diversityrolemodels.org/, where you can also sign up to become a Role Model.