We've been supporting Pink Saltire since 2016 so we caught up with CEO Stuart Duffy during LGBT+ History Month to hear about the impact the charity has been making.
What was Pink Saltire set up to do?
Pink Saltire was set up to give a voice to LGBT+ people in Scotland who feel marginalised or isolated. Growing up in Fife, our Founder and Trustees knew that life was very different for them compared to LGBT+ friends who grew up in Edinburgh or Glasgow. We wanted to make sure improvements were made to services across the country, especially in more rural locations, and that LGBT+ people were heard and able to take part in community life wherever they were.
How many people work in the charity?
We have no paid staff - all our work is voluntary or project based. We have a small board of four and around 12 volunteers who write or contribute to our work, but we're reaching people across the country with our news hub at pinksaltire.com and our digital work was viewed over 1.4 million times to March 2017 by people in 80 different countries!
What has Pink Saltire been in doing over the last year?
2017 was a busy year as we continued to develop our LGBT+ news hub at pinksaltire.com which now receives over 44,000 visitors and growing and reaches people around the world, spreading the news that Scotland is a great place for LGBT+ people. But we've also been working on new services in communities from Aberdeen down to Falkirk, including community consultations which helped form brand new Pride organisations in Grampian, Dundee and Perthshire. We're also active members of seven local LGBT+ networks around the country, helping local authorities, the NHS and even the Scottish Parliament take action to improve equality in Scotland. Our partnership in Fife was a huge success too, with the very first Fife Pride event held in Kirkcaldy in July with over 3000 people attending.
What is the car from Arnold Clark helping you achieve?
The branded car is a real enabler for us - without it we would face huge travel costs and our reach would be very limited. We're able to travel anywhere we need to, quickly and comfortably, for interviews or to hear from people in the communities they live and work. It's also pretty eye-catching with our new branding along the sides - we've had lots of people look at the car as we go through towns and villages around the country, helping spread the word about the charity.
Who is the most interesting person you've met from doing this work?
There are so many people up and down the country doing amazing work in communities without much recognition - without the profile and platform we can offer, their work might not be known so we want to keep on profiling inspiring LGBT+ people in Scotland. One person that jumps to mind is someone I interviewed for an article over a year ago, Justine Smithies who lives in North East Scotland. Her story of transitioning from male to female while married with children and the acceptance and positivity she's experienced has been quite inspirational - Justine is now a Stonewall role model and shares her story in speeches around the country.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
Proudest moment for me personally has been just in the last few weeks being named number two on the 'Top 40 Fifers of 2017' list for my work on LGBT+ rights - it was a lovely surprise and nice to be recognised for the hard work that's gone into the charity. For the charity though, I think we are most proud of the work to launch Fife Pride in 2017 - we were on a steep learning curve organising the first event but standing in front of 3000 people on stage to open the event was a huge deal. The impact of pride was seen far beyond the people who attended though, with an estimated economic impact for Kirkcaldy over nearly £150,000 for that one event.
If you weren't doing this, what do you think you would be doing instead?
I'd probably be writing for a local newspaper or in radio - I'm a complete news junkie so I'm always tuned into current affairs!
What are you hoping to achieve in the future?
Pink Saltire has a busy year ahead managing a new youth volunteering programme in Dundee, planning events to mark LGBT+ History Month in February and a new multi-media coaching programme rolling out across 5 regions to improve digital skills for LGBT people too. All of that alongside the news hub and taking part in the eight Scottish Pride events this year means 2018 will be our busiest ever! Thanks to Arnold Clark for helping us to be best the we can!