SOUL PRIDE 2021 - A DIFFERENT KIND OF PRIDE: 'IT’S A CHANCE TO PAUSE AND BE STILL'
The Soul Pride retreat is being held in Berkshire from 8-11 July 2021.
Words: Alastair James; pictures: The Wonderment Group
A different type of Pride - which takes a more holistic approach to supporting LGBTQs - is set to go ahead as planned this month.
If you’re looking to take a step back from the traditional Pride events, this may be for you.
Soul Pride Retreat Festival is an inclusive and transformative weekend for the community and allies, which will take place from 8-11 July 2021 in the glorious woodland setting of the Wasing Park Estate in Berkshire.
Last year’s event, like most things in 2020, had to go online as a result of the COVID-pandemic. Now, it’s back with a weekend of in-person sessions.
“It’s something to bring people together”
The event aims to provide a safe and open space for LGBTQs to discuss issues relating to the community. Led by a group of wellbeing warriors, the four-day event looks to support the mind, body, and soul needs of the community.
From health and wellbeing workshops to nature walks and lake swimming, yoga, and Pilates, the event offers a wide range of activities during the day. At night, however, a festival takes over with cabaret, spoken word, circus acts, live music, DJs and woodland dancing every evening.
Chris Fitchew, Creative Director of the Wonderment Group, is behind the retreat and tells Attitude: “The event was set up to bring people together. It’s a no alcohol or drugs events. It’s [...] to converse, and get all kinds of healing in. We want it to be light and fun.
“People can dip in and out of the sessions as they wish, and they can focus on more physical or mental health sessions. People can really design their weekends.”
On what he wants people to take away from the experience, he says: “It’s a chance to pause and be still. Pride is obviously loads of fun, but it can be crazy. Even though we’re here to celebrate and have fun, the vibe is less hectic.
“Everybody’s journey is different, and the options will suit everybody in some way. We want people to come away with a curated journey of inspiration and empowerment.”
“It’s just wonderful that it can go ahead”
Neil Seligman, a barrister-turned-mindfulness coach, is among those leading sessions at the retreat. “I’m really excited," he says. "To go on a four-day event and teach again out in the world is something that is more precious now than ever.
“I’m leading a morning mindfulness meditation which is a way to connect and drop in consciously at the beginning of the day. Then I’m offering a workshop called ‘Pathways to Self-acceptance’ using meditation, pair work and storytelling to cultivate self-acceptance and hear each other’s stories.”
Having changed career, he says his sessions can help people find “who they are and what they do in the world”.
And on what appealed to him about the event, he says: “I’m a bit of a camper at heart. I did a lot of camping in America. This feels like a really nice connection to that and it’s just nice to drop into a community of conscious queer folk and feel connected. It’s outside and covid-safe. It’s just wonderful that it can go ahead.”
This year the event is working with Stonewall as a charitable trust, and the event is also launching its ‘Angel sponsorship’, so those who can afford to can gift a ticket to someone who’s unable to.
Tickets can be purchased through the website at soulpride.org. Attitude readers can get a 20% discount using the code: ATTITUDE-SP21.
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Despite the recently announced delay to the lifting of lockdown regulations, we’re pleased to confirm that the Soul Pride Retreat Festival will go ahead as planned from 8th – 11th July in accordance with government guidelines for outdoor events.
The organisers of Soul Pride told OutNewsGlobal, “The last year on this planet has been extremely tough. The global pandemic has seen unprecedented measures put into society with the objective to protect us.
“We’ve been away from the people we love, the places we love and the activities we love. As human beings we have an intrinsic need to connect with one another and the sheer isolation of this year has taken its toll on our emotional, mental and spiritual health.
“Following the latest Government announcement, we are proud to announce we will proceed as planned.
“The LGBTQIA+ community has been particularly hard hit with a greater percentage negatively affected, in mental health and financially compared to non LGBTQIA+ communities so the need for uniting and nurturing has never been greater.”
“As we are an outdoor event, focusing on mental and personal wellbeing, we are able to fully adhere to the restrictions currently in place and will of course continue to monitor any updates and changes to ensure the latest guidelines are implemented.”
“The need for uniting and nurturing has never been greater and that is why we are standing proud with Soul Pride and reaching out to you to join us!”
Soul Pride has also confirmed that the following safety measures have been put in place:
• Operating at less than 50% venue capacity
• Everyone requested to complete a lateral flow test and receive a negative result before arrival
• Temperature checks on arrival
• Track & trace system in operation
• All dining and workshops held in outdoor spaces with social distancing adhered to
• Ample sanitisation stations (handwashing and sanitiser)
Chris Fitchew, Creative Director of Wonderment Group added, “We’re delighted to announce Soul Pride will take place in person this year. We know the more we nurture our mind, body and soul through meditation, mental health support, yoga, fitness, spiritual exploration and healthy nutritious food, the more we will rise out of our caged emotions.
“In a world divided, we must come together and unite in our common goal – to support one another, care for one another and have empathy and compassion for everyone’s individual success and challenges, taking lessons from the gift of stillness and reflection.
“Soul Pride is an opportunity for us to bond together in community and nature and provides a safe space to own our LGBTQIA stripes, badges and wings with full force. To enjoy a sense of belonging and give us the armour and permission to return to who we really are.
“Let us ALL have pride in our soul.”
Soul Pride’s statement coincides with the announcement of the festival’s line up which you can see here:
For ticket, more information and to find out about Soul Pride’s brilliant Angel Sponsorship scheme, click here.