News 2003


News - 3 Nov 2003

"Living It" Launched

Living it launchGreater Manchester Police (GMP) and Bolton NHS Primary Care Trust have teamed up with agencies across Greater Manchester in a campaign designed to combat homophobic bullying. The Greater Manchester Anti-Homophobic Bullying Steering Group has produced a teaching resource pack 'Living It,' which was launched on Thursday September 25 at 1:30 at Manchester United Football Club.

The pack, jointly funded by GMP's Shrievalty Trust and Bolton Primary Care Trust (Healthy Schools Programme), follows national curriculum standards and will be available to schools and other educational establishments nation-wide. Designed to promote positive action and a change in attitude towards homosexuality among young people, the 'Living It' pack consists of comprehensive teacher support materials and student activities that can be tailored to many different age groups, as well as a real-life drama video.

Sergeant Mark Kenny, Greater Manchester Police Community Affairs Department said; "GMP is committed to tackling crime motivated by prejudice, which can often be reflected in school environments. It is vitally important to address such behaviour at an early stage and this pack forms part of the on-going work with our partners to ensure that homophobia becomes unacceptable in contemporary society".

Andrew Mulholland, Bolton Public Health Service added: "This new resource will support schools and other agencies working with young people to challenge homophobic bullying and will contribute to work which promotes diversity and challenges discrimination".

The Greater Manchester Anti-Homophobic Bullying Steering Group consists of representatives from the following agencies:

  • Greater Manchester Police
  • Bolton NHS Primary Care Trust
  • Lesbian and Gay Foundation
  • Stockport Local Education Authority
  • Trafford and Salford Healthy Schools
  • Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
  • Peer Support Project
  • Victim Support

Lesbian and Gay Foundation Seminar

Sept 29. Margaret attended a one day seminar to feedback the results of LGF's research projects over the last twelve months.

EuroPride Stakeholder Meeting

Oct 14. Inga attended the above meeting at Churchgate House in Manchester.The purpose of the meeting was to look at key success and issues arising from EuroPride event in August.


News - 7 Oct 2003

Launch of "Living It" anti homophobic bullying video and teaching pack

Sept 25. Approximately a hundred and fifty delegates attended the launch of a video and teaching pack aimed at addressing homophobic bullying. Christine Holt and Dave Heywood from Manchester Parents Group were amongst those present.

The event was organised by The Community Affairs Branch of Greater Manchester Police, in partnership with Bolton Public Health Authority, and was held at Manchester United Football Stadium.

Speakers included Assistant Chief Constable Ian Seabridge Head of Community Affairs GMP, Andrew Mulholland Senior Health Promotion Specialist Bolton Public Health, Maria Bisect Bolton Healthy Schools Coordinator, Christine Birchby Coordinator of Counselling and Anti Bullying Turton High School, Lorraine Gleave responsible for NHSS and PSHE Stockport Education Services, Sergeant Mark Kenny Chair of the Multi Agency Greater Manchester Anti homophobic Bullying Steering Group, and Lindsay Campbell manager of Crag Rats ReAct Theatre Group.

Our display of photos and information attracted a great deal of interest and our booklets and leaflets disappeared rapidly!


24 Sept 2003

Radio Interview

Sept 11. Jane was interviewed by Greater Manchester Radio Gay Talk about the FFLAG conference " Making a Difference", which is to be held in Birmingham on Oct 11th.

VAM (Voluntary Action Manchester) Charity know How Day

Sept 17. Margaret attended the VAM Charity Know How Day at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. The aim of the Day was to improve the effectiveness of voluntary and community organisations by accessing useful information, attending training workshops, making new contacts, and keeping up with the latest developments in the sector.


16 Sept 2003

EuroPride Manchester 2003

Europride view from our floatFor 10 days in August, Manchester hosted EuroPride, the biggest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual festival in Europe. It was 10 days of gay and lesbian sports, films, culture, heritage, campaigning and debating, culminating in The Big Weekend of partying and celebration in the Gay Village. Our EuroPride 2003 photos and movies

The highlight, which took place on Bank Holiday Saturday, was the Manchester EuroPride 2003 Parade, the most spectacular, ever staged through the streets of Manchester. It was colourful, noisy, extravagant, entertaining and great fun. What a sight! Heading the parade was the biggest rainbow flag in the world. It was a quarter of a mile long!

The Mamas and the Papas, the sixties group, was the theme for Manchester Parents Group float (and YES some of us do remember it the first time round!) We dressed as groovy hippies and flower power was the order of the day, with sunflowers everywhere! We were joined by seven members of Barclays Spectrum Group, looking as they’ve never looked before! Very many thanks to them for sponsoring our float and also for all the help and support they gave us over EuroPride 2003. Thanks also to the walking contingent (FFLAG trustees and their families) who marched behind the float carrying the FFLAG banner.

It was a very moving occasion, and my feelings mirrored those of Sir Ian McKellan who was also in the parade. He said "The most stylish theatre in the world was here on the streets of Manchester. When I rode through the streets of the city, tears of joy ran down my face. There were kids, old people, mothers, fathers, grandparents, a real racial mix, and not a single person objecting to us being there"

How things have improved, BUT, there is still work to be done. We had an information stall in the Lifestyle Expo. over the weekend in the Gay village, and we had a steady flow of gay and lesbian people, young, and some not so young, coming to us for help and advice, mainly with the problem of coming out to their parents and families.

One gay man stood looking at our stall, and said, "I wish my mother could see this. All I want from her is to accept me as I am." Difficulties with religion, homophobia and bullying also seemed to be hugely problematic for many people. Hopefully one day we will all live together in harmony, respect each other, and our sexuality will not be an issue. Perhaps I should say "I have a dream"

We at Manchester Parents Group feel "EuroProud" to have been part of it all. It was hard work and at times we felt we were FLAGGING (excuse the pun). The serious part of it all though, reminds us why we are all here, and why we do what we do, and our batteries get recharged. If we can help to change people’s lives for the better, then surely it must be worthwhile, and, it can be great fun at the same time!

After a fantastic weekend of hard work and great fun you can now see our EuroPride 2003 videos and photos

Love and peace to you all,

Inga, (Webmistress)

Presentation to Town Women's Guild

Sept 8. Inga gave a presentation about the work of MPG to a Town Womens Guild group in Wigan. About 50 people attended and the evening was a great success. The audience were very receptive and eager to participate in discussion.


News - 27 Aug 2003

EuroPride Working party

Aug 10. We had a meeting at Nicki's house to organise the decoration for our float. Luckily the weather was fine, and we were able to spread out into the garden to make the panels of sunflowers to fit on the side of the lorry. It could be said that flower power was the order of the day! Thanks to all who worked so hard.

Film Premiere

Anne and Margaret attended the launch of the film "Mango Soufflé" at the Print Works. This was part of the Film Festival organised for EuroPride.

Charity Night for MPG

Aug 16. Thanks to Steph Kay from Vanilla for organising a Charity Night at Wells Fargo for MPG. Anne, Margaret and Linnette collected the money on the door and £210 was raised. Well done to everyone.

National Conference

Aug 22. Manchester City council organised a national conference "A New Agenda for Equality for Lesbians and Gay Men" at Manchester Town Hall, as part of EuroPride. Jane and Christine from MPG attended as delegates, and Nicki and Laurie were in charge of MPG information stall. This was a good opportunity to liaise with organisations and agencies, and lots of information was distributed, and contacts made.


News 30 July 2003

Health Promotion and Greater Manchester police

July 2. Dave attended the preview of new anti-homophobic bullying resources produced by Health Promotion and Greater Manchester police. They are designed for use in personal, social and health education, counselling and one to one sessions, staff training, and awareness training.
The resources will be launched on Sept 25 during the Homophobic Bullying Conference at the Manchester United Conference Centre. Members of Manchester Parents Group will be present.

Village Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Seminars

July 10. Inga attended the seminar Improving Services, Challenging Discrimination at Manchester Town Hall. This was an opportunity for all CAB in the region to forge links with the local lesbian and gay community, and to raise awareness of the social policy issues facing them. Inga gave a short presentation about Manchester Parents Group and our leaflets and booklets were on display. Good contacts were made, and thanks to Paul Fairweather our poster has been sent to 100 CAB in the area. We are very grateful for this.

Liverpool CAB Seminar

July 31. Margaret and Inga will be attending the Liverpool Seminar, this time to liaise with CAB & LGB organisations in the Merseyside area. Once again there will be a short presentation about MPG and resources will be on display.

Meetings with Barclays bank

July 10. Jane, Anne & Martin, Inga, Nicki & Laurie had a meeting with Steve Noke from Barclays Sexual Orientation Task Force re sponsorship for our float in Manchester's Euro Pride 2003 Parade. We were very pleased to receive a cheque for £500. Many thanks to Barclays.

July 30. We are to have a further meeting with members from the Northern Branch of Barclays sexual orientation task force.

EuroPride - Operation Fundraiser

July 17. A consultation meeting was held at Unity House, Central Manchester. Margaret and Inga attended. This was an opportunity for members of LGB groups to ask questions, and put forward ideas to Paul Martin, Executive Director of Lesbian and Gay Foundation, and Michelle Reid, Executive Director of George House Trust, as to how money raised at EuroPride should be distributed to the charities. New ideas were formulated and further consultation is to take place.

July 31. Repeal of Section 28

July 10. At last the House of Lords saw reason, and voted for the repeal of Section28.
Stonewall hailed this as “a triumph for tolerance over prejudice”.

Margaret Thatcher made her first appearance at the House of Lords since the death of her husband specifically to vote against repeal. More info here

Manchester Parents Group campaigning photos

Thanks to all who have worked long and hard to have this law overturned.


News 19 Jun 2003

Voices in Vale Royal

May 8. Laurie attended a meeting of the recently formed LGB forum in the Vale Royal area. A draft mission statement and an information pack were discussed.

June 3. He attended a further meeting, at which the mission statement was agreed, and tasks allocated to produce information packs.

Film Preview

June 3. Anne and Martin attended the film preview of Trembling before G-D at the Cornerhouse in Manchester. The film tells the personal stories of Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian, and who are struggling to reconcile their commitment to Orthodox Judaism with their sexuality.

A very powerful message of rejection by the families and the Jewish Orthodox Community was portrayed.

The film director Sandi Dubowski and the first openly gay Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg were there to answer questions.

Media News

June 5. Laurie gave an interview to Gaytalk Radio BBC Manchester about Manchester Parents Group.

Charities Fair

June 7. An opportunity to display information about the work of Manchester Parents Group and FFLAG arose with an invitation from Bury CVS ( Community Voluntary Service) to attend a Charities Fair. Christine Holt represented MPG.

Valuable contacts were made with representatives of other voluntary organisations including The Samaritans, Home Start, Amnesty International and Bury Family Centre.

An article about the work of MPG and FFLAG will be published in a forthcoming edition of Bury CVS Link Newsletter.

EuroPride Stakeholder Meeting

June 9. Inga attended the above meeting in central Manchester. LGB organisations involvement in EuroPride was discussed and there was an opportunity for people to put questions to Claire Turner and Christopher Hodgson (Joint Festival Co-ordinators).

Parents Group in Blackpool

June 27. is the date of the first meeting of the newly formed parents support group in Blackpool. Members of Manchester parents group are to attend to help with the setting up of the group.

Fundraising News

Many thanks to Steph Kay of Vanilla Bar, for raising £150 towards our new photocopier. It's very much appreciated.


News - 14 May 2003

Media News

Pauline did an interview for radio Blackpool and had an article published in the Blackpool Gazette. She is hoping to start a FFLAG parents group in Blackpool soon.


Jane has met with Sue Parkes of Relate (Stockport). It was very useful to find out that they have a number of clients having family therapy where a parent has recently come out as gay but wants to remain in the marriage. Staff have received training from LGB Foundation and they are learning from each other.

Stakeholder Group Meeting

May 12. Inga attended the meeting at the EuroPride office in Manchester. The Village Business Association’s involvement in EuroPride and Operation Fundraiser are to be discussed.

VBA Business Awards Ceremony

May 22. Ten members of MPG are looking forward to attending the Village Business Awards and countdown to EuroPride at the Piccadilly Jarvis Hotel in Manchester.

This will be Manchester’s opportunity to unite all sections of the community, the business groups and the organisers of EuroPride under one roof. It should be quite an event!

Winstanley Town Women's Guild

Inga has been invited to give a presentation at the September meeting of the above branch of the Town Women’s Guild.


News - 12 Apr 2003

Support for Families of Black and Asian Gays

Parents of gay sons and lesbian daughters from multi cultural communities met in London to establish how they could support their children who may experience prejudice because of their sexuality. Inga Rhodes and Jane Clayton from Manchester Parents Group attended the conference. The event was hosted by FFLAG (Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), an organisation set up ten years ago to offer information, support and advice to families who may experience problems when a family member declares his or her sexual orientation.

Recently, FFLAG has been contacted by gay and lesbian people from black and minority ethnic communities seeking help. Jenny Broughton, national co-ordinator of FFLAG, believes that parents from all cultural backgrounds experience similar anxieties and can obtain reassurance from sharing concerns with each other.

Parents may feel confusion, disbelief, fear and even grief when they discover that their child is gay. This can be compounded in families from black and minority ethnic communities because of cultural and religious beliefs that regard homosexuality as shameful and unnatural.

An Asian mother of a gay son said, "People from our communities have problems in obtaining reliable information on sexuality and can become isolated and fearful". Often gay people will marry in order to maintain secrecy about their sexuality and this can cause great unhappiness. They can also be rejected by their families and face the insecurity of poor housing and loss of educational opportunities.

Parminder Sekhon from NAZ, the social exclusion health project in London, which facilitated the conference said, "This conference could be an important event in changing the attitudes of black and minority ethnic families towards their gay and lesbian members."

FFLAG will now extend its educational and support services to families from black and ethnic minority communities by working in partnership with organisations that represent these communities throughout the country.

The conference was attended by parents from all parts of the United Kingdom and was made possible by an award from the Citizenship 21 Project of Stonewall, the gay rights lobbying organisation.

For further information contact

Jenny Broughton
National Co-ordinator FFLAG
PO Box 84,
Exeter,EX4 4AN

Tel 01392 279546


Inga Rhodes 

Manchester Parents Group
PO Box 100
15 Pritchard Street
Manchester, M1 7DA


News - 10 Apr 2003

A Memorable Weekend

Mar 21-23. This Year FFLAG training weekend was held at the Holiday Inn in Leicester, and was organised by Leicester parents Betty and Vaunda, and FFLAG trustees Sue and Angie. 43 delegates from parents groups throughout the UK took part, 10 of whom were members of Manchester Parent Group.

We had training on Dealing with difficult phone calls and running efficient support groups, Homophobic bullying in Schools, Presentation skills, Transgender issues and Black and Ethnic minority issues. Thanks to the facilitators Nigel Leach, Roberta Fudge, Jane Clayton, Tina Livingstone and Gloria Jenkins. Thanks also to FFLAG Affiliates Sue Allen, Peter and Carol Sanbrook, and Christine Holt for their input into the homophobic bullying workshop.

One of the highlights of the weekend was meeting Norah Gutteridge, FFLAG's Honorary President. She is now in her 80's (I'm sure she won't mind me mentioning this! ) and was a pioneer of the Parents Movement, along with Rose Robertson, in the 1960's. She gave a wonderful speech which was an inspiration to us all. We returned home full of enthusiasm to continue working hard for the cause. Thanks to everyone for a very valuable and enjoyable weekend.

Coming Home Together

April 4-6. Christine attended the Spring Conference of the Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians at Whalley Abbey. It's theme was "Coming Home Together" The guest speaker was Jeremy Marks, founder in 1988 of Courage Trust. Jeremy believed then, that a homosexual orientation being, as he saw it "contrary to God's plan" could be changed "to become heterosexual as God intended."

During ten years of intensive work it became increasingly obvious that sexuality can not be changed. In 2000,finally recognising the importance of self acceptance and the happiness and fulfilment that can come from a loving, committed Gay relationship, the emphasis of ministry was changed to one of support and understanding.

The title "Coming Home Together" affirms how a ministry, once claiming to be able to change Gay sexuality and members of EFLGC, whose sexuality was seen as needing "change" because it was "contrary to God's plan" are reconciled and moving forward together.

LGB & Trans Community Network

April 9. Inga attended the above Network meeting at Unity House in Manchester.

The network exists to improve the lives of LGB and Trans communities in Manchester by:

  • Linking groups with these communities.
  • Facilitating Communication and joint working.
  • Influencing public policy.
  • Identifying community needs and ways of addressing them.

The initiative is funded with the support of the Neighbourhood renewal Unit through the Community Empowerment Fund.

The progress made so far, and the plans for the future were discussed.


News - 11 Mar 2003

Radio Interview

Feb 26. Sue was interviewed by GMR about MPG and the issues we are currently involved in.

University News

Feb 27. Sue, Dave, Nicky and Laurie went to St Martins College Lancaster to a meeting with the LGB students.

World Women's Day

Mar 3. There were various stalls, workshops and displays in Manchester Town Hall. MPG had an information stall which looked very colourful with our yellow banner and new yellow and blue leaflets and posters produced by Nicky. We gave out lots of information packs and made some useful contacts. Thanks to Margaret and Ann, Nicky and her friend Joan for spending the day looking after the stall.

Inga was interviewed by Greater Manchester Radio about our work and our reasons for taking part in World Women's Day.

Voices in Vale Royal

Mar 10. Nicky and Laurie attended a meeting in Northwich with LGB groups, the Citizens Advice Bureau and the police, to discuss how they can work together in the future, to improve the services for LGB people in the Vale Royal area .


News - 12 Feb 2003

Voice of Encouragement

Jan 22. Canon Trevor Dennis, Vice Dean of Chester Cathedral, describing himself as fully heterosexual, spoke on "Voices from Sodom: The Bible and homosexuality" to a packed Manchester Theological Society meeting at Manchester Cathedral. Christine Holt from MPG was one of those attending.

His analysis and demolition of the few biblical texts which appear to condemn homosexuality was superb. His passion for the recognition and acceptance of Gay people, and their relationships, within the Church, touched many who attended as was revealed in the discussion afterwards and the applause which followed the meeting.

Peer Support Open Evening

Jan 30. Sue and Dave attended a social evening at the Lesbian and Gay Centre in Manchester. It was hosted by the Peer Support Group, and  was a good opportunity to network.

Warrington Domestic Violence Unit

Feb3rd Inga had a meeting with Pam Skelland of the Domestic violence unit in Warrington to discuss plans for expanding their services to include LGBs


News - 19 Jan 2003

Christmas and Retirement Party

Our Christmas party this year was held at the Taurus bar Canal Street Manchester. It was extra special this year as it was also a surprise retirement party for Brenda Oakes. It was good to see so many people attending to celebrate with us. Among them were all Brenda's family, much to her surprise!
We had a wonderful time. The bar was open. There was excellent musical entertainment, a delicious buffet, and a chance to win good prizes Playing Your Cards Right or in our raffle.
The highlight of the day undoubtedly was the presentation to Brenda of a picture, gift vouchers, flowers and a cake, in appreciation of all her hard work for both MPG and FFLAG over the years. (See tribute below).
Photos are here

Tribute to Brenda by Inga Rhodes

Mention Manchester Parents Group or FFLAG and immediately the name Brenda Oakes springs to mind! Brenda is a very remarkable woman, who has been active in the Parents Movement for many years.

She has been part of Manchester Parents Group since it was set up in 1986 in response to the need, not only for a helpline, but also for a place where parents of lesbian and gay children could meet and support each other. The group has grown steadily over the years, due to Brenda’s hard work and dedication. She has helped hundreds of parents on their own personal journey to greater understanding and acceptance of their child’s sexuality, and also supported many young gay people "coming out"

As more groups were formed around the country there was a need for a national umbrella organisation, and in 1993 Brenda helped to set up FFLAG (Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). There are now about 40 telephone helplines and groups affiliated to FFLAG. She has been working tirelessly for both MPG and FFLAG ever since.

As well as organising Manchester Parents Group, she was a FFLAG committee member, the national coordinator for many years, and editor of FFLAG’s Newsletter. She organised FFLAG training courses and conferences, and when FFLAG became a registered charity she was made a trustee.

Brenda has also worked hard in the field of education. She believes that the only way to eliminate prejudice, discrimination and homophobia is to educate people around the issues of homosexuality. She has given presentations to doctors, teachers, police, and church groups, made speeches and written letters. You name it and Brenda has done it. She certainly has been Out and Proud!

She has always been an ardent campaigner for gay rights. She has fought vociferously for the repeal of section 28 and she mobilised parents from all over the UK to lobby the House of Lords about an equal age of consent. She even managed to organise a meeting with the infamous Baroness Young! She faced her on television and confronted her on the radio. Nothing daunted Brenda, and in 1999 she and Christine Holt (another Manchester Parent), won the award of Gaytime TV campaigners of the year.

Sadly (for us) Brenda has decided to retire to spend more time with her husband Jim and family who have been quietly supportive of her work for so many years. Typically though, she won’t be idle. I’ve heard she has aspirations to write a book about her life. She intends to remain a patron of LGF and attend Manchester Parents Group meetings from time to time.

We will always think of Brenda and Jim with gratitude, love and affection, and we wish them a very happy retirement. We at Manchester Parents Group are working very hard trying to follow in Brenda’s footsteps, but to tell you the truth, she is a very hard act to follow!

Lesbian Community Project Open Day and AGM

Dec 4 Christine and Inga attended the above Open Day at the Lesbian and Gay centre in Central Manchester. The various lesbian groups that the project has been supporting over the past year, had information stalls. We made lots of good contacts, and were able to distribute information and leaflets etc. about MPG. We can strongly recommend the huge cups of tea and homemade biscuits supplied by the volunteers!

Bolton homophobic bullying news

Dec 9. Christine attended a meeting in Greater Manchester to discuss and plan future work in the area.

Pink Network meeting.

Jan 9. Inga attended the committee meeting in Warrington. It was decided that there will be a Pink Network Open Day, at 11 Palmyra Square Warrington, on March 27th from 1pm to 5pm. MPG will be having an information stall and there will be representatives from all the organisations which provide services for gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Warrington and Halton.

Holistic Health Day

Jan 26. Gay Healthy Alliance Project (GHAP) is to hold a holistic health day at the Hanover Hotel in Stretton Warrington. MPG will be having an information stall.

Presentation to Town Womens Guild.

Feb 14. Inga is to give a talk, about how her son's "coming out" changed her life, at a town women's guild meeting in Ashton-in-Makerfield.

Religious news

An article by Christine Holt on issues around having a gay son, was published in the Winter edition of Family and Home, The Mothers Union magazine