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London, Ont. counselling centre to offer LGBTQ2 workshops in first Pride festival appearance

The London Pride festival is set to make a grand return for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, running from July 14 to 24. File / AP Photo

In marking its first appearance at the Pride London festival, the Community Counselling Centre of London will be offering two new programs for the LGBTQ2 community.

The non-profit organization works to provide affordable and subsidized counselling services for London and surrounding neighbourhoods.

Read more: U.K.’s first Pride parade returns in London on 50th anniversary

Pride London Festival is set to make a grand return for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, running from July 14 to 24. The festival will offer a variety of different exhibits, live music and more in leading up to the 26th annual Pride parade.

“Having this chance to just be present at Pride and say we’re here for all of the city of London is a really rare opportunity,” said Bruce Dow, a therapist intern at the Community Counselling Centre of London.

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The centre will soon present a one-time event called the Ally Awareness Workshop that will focus on providing information aimed at answering questions surroundings sex, sexuality, pronouns, gender identity and more.

Additionally, the organization will launch monthly or bi-weekly group support experiences to “acknowledge that London’s 2SLGBTQIAP+ Community has specific needs which differ from those of the community at large.”

“It’d be like a group therapy meeting, (but) just a group support for well-being, added information (and) community support,” Dow said.

He added that the two programs are marked as a starting point for the centre in offering new services.

“We’re looking at baby steps right now,” Dow said. “There are so many allies who want to understand and engage (but) it can be daunting. Also, we thought we’d start with just a general support group for the community to find interest to see what we could build from.

“As we work with people, you find out specific needs and specific interests will emerge. Then we’ll look at focusing more clearly.”

Read more: Tillsonburg, Ont. business owner’s Pride flags burned, threatening message left again

According to Dow, the centre will have a stationed booth in Victoria Park throughout the final 48 hours of the 10-day festival. However, the organization plans to officially implement these workshops after the Pride festival.

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“This is an opportunity for us to really reach out to the community in a different way to offer some different services,” he said.

But regardless of the programs, Dow said that within the community and emerging from the pandemic, more people have been reaching out compared with previous years.

“Our lives have kind of been put on hold,” he said. “But now, more people are reaching out wondering how they can reframe their lives and experiences.

“Now we’re looking at offering something a little more specific to a specific area of the community.”

Visit the Community Counselling Centre of London’s website for more information about the centre.

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