Active Lancashire uses rainbow laces to promote equality and inclusion

Not-for-profit organisation Active Lancashire, is proud to be part of a pledge to promote inclusivity and equality within community sport in Lancashire.

The organisation has placed under-represented groups at the heart of its work since its inception in 2000, but greater steps have been taken more recently as Lancashire continues to battle inequalities within its sporting communities.

In 2018, Active Lancashire’s Community Youth Engagement Officer, Ronan McMahon, connected with Lancashire LGBT through sponsoring Morecambe and Lancaster Pride Events. McMahon took this opportunity to promote the rainbow laces campaign led by Stonewall, which aims to ‘make sport everyone’s game’ through encouraging people to wear rainbow laces during sports activities to increase awareness and support for the LGBT+ community.

Many attendees took home rainbow laces at the Pride Events and Lancashire LGBT were keen on the idea, so much so that a few weeks later they got in touch with Ronan following an enquiry from a local community football player. Neil Proctor, a player from ‘Portly Vale’ football team which formed part of Lancashire FA and Sport England’s weight management football league titled ‘Man v Fat’, had reached out to Lancashire LGBT as his team had made it to the Cup Final and he wanted a batch of laces for his team to wear during the game. The idea came following conversations between Proctor and his teammate Pete Eatough, who had come out to the group of players several months earlier. Proctor had been wearing the laces for a while in support of the campaign, but when he mentioned wearing them to Eatough he said “I don’t wear them because I am worried people will kick me”. This sparked Proctor to reach out and source the laces for the final, which was extremely well received by Eatough who was moved by the act, feeling truly supported by his teammates.

Last week the story attracted interest from Sky Sports News who got in touch with McMahon from Active Lancashire after seeing the original post on Twitter. Media coverage like this only helps further promote, not only the Rainbow Laces campaign, but inclusivity within community sport in general, which still has a long way to go throughout society. View the Sky Sports article in full here.

Active Lancashire is proud to have played a small part in promoting equality and inclusion within football, and has since carried out a number of activities to help further engage under-represented groups in other community sports across the County. Rainbow laces were introduced at the 2019 Spar Lancashire School Games, with all children receiving a pair to help raise awareness around the campaign. In addition to this, in summer 2019, the first ever LGBT Satellite Club was established in Lancashire through Blackpool-based not-for-profit organisation, UR Potential. The club has since expanded into Fleetwood and Fylde due to its success.

Their work over the past two years and the established relationship with Lancashire LGBT also led to Active Lancashire working to achieve their LGBT Quality Mark through carrying out an internal audit of their policies and procedures to assess whether there were areas for improvement around equality and inclusion. They continue to further develop their work in these areas, hoping to serve as an advocate to other individuals or organisations across the County.

Active Lancashire’s Community Youth Engagement Officer, Ronan McMahon, commented on the growing discussion saying, “Why should someone not have the same opportunities because of their gender or background. Unfortunately, this is true within society, even in 2020. If raising awareness of LGBT+ and equality can be achieved through a pair of laces, it’s a step in the right direction. But I’d like to see them available in more places and the campaign backed by more household names”.

Active Lancashire strives to continue placing under-represented groups at the heart of their work, and hopes that partners and other organisations will join them in their fight to embed inclusivity within Lancashire sporting communities.

Active Partnerships
Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership
Funded by UK Government Levelling Up