manual

Organising Civil Service Pride

Published

By Civil Service LGBT+ Network

About this guidance

This guidance explains how previous volunteers have organised the Civil Service’s participation in Pride events in recent years. The processes specific to each Pride event and location, as determined by their organising committees, change each year; sometimes substantially. This guidance should be read in conjunction with the specific instructions provided by each Pride organisation about their event.

When and where Pride happens

Pride events happen all year round, but the majority of Civil Service activity takes place between June and September. In recent years the Civil Service LGBT+ Network has taken part in Pride events in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and more.

Most Pride events take place across a weekend. Usually, the Civil Service will take part in the main march, parade or procession. These usually take place on the Saturday of the Pride weekend, and sometimes on a Sunday.

Preparation

Pride events come around much sooner than you expect. You will want as much time to prepare as possible.

You should start preparing your Pride activity in December of each year at the latest. This is particularly important for larger Prides events where registrations for parade groups open and fill up early in the year.

The first things you’ll want to consider are:

Number of events

How many and which Pride events are you going to organise centrally, versus Prides you let others lead in their local area?1

It is incredibly difficult to arrange participation in areas that you do not have active volunteers, so you should focus on locations you know you can get someone to lead on the day.

Business case

Taking part costs money; do you have a budget and business case sign off?

You will need to engage early with the Cabinet Office and LGBT+ Champions to secure a budget and approval to spend.

Your business case will need to cover things like:

  • registration fees for each event
  • purchase of items for the events like placards, t-shirts and floats

Register your groups

You will need to register each group for each parade. There is usually, but not always, a fee for this.

Pride in London is one of the earliest to open registrations and they fill up very quickly; so as soon as the registrations open, make sure you register to ensure we don’t miss out.

Participant registrations

How will you get people to register to attend each event?

Several of the larger pride events have limits on the number of people that can be in a parade group; Pride in London is the most obvious, but others do to. You will want to decide early how you will manage registrations to join these groups.

In previous years we have managed registrations for events with maximum capacity limits in three ways:

  1. releasing all places through Eventbrite at a set time and date
  2. releasing places in waves through Eventbrite at several set times and dates
  3. running a lottery for places to that allocations are random

There are benefits and downsides to each of these systems; every department will prefer something different. Ultimately, it is never possible to satisfy everyone – our advice would be to aim for what you think is the fairest allocation. We would also advise resisting any suggestion that allocations should be proportional to the funding allocated unless a couple of departments are funding the entirety of an event: there are more than 300 departments and agencies in government, so if allocations were proportional, everyone would end up with only one person from their department.

When will you open the registrations for Pride in London?

You will start to get bombarded with questions about how people can join the group as early as January. Decide well in advance when you will open the registrations and clearly publicise how these will be made available well in advance. We’d recommend sometime in March and April, but this depends when your allocation is confirmed.

How will you encourage registration for events without capacity constraints, or that you can’t register for early in the year?

Not all events have capacity constraints, and not all events accept group registrations in January/February. You will need to decide whether you want to encourage people to register tentatively for events other than Pride in London at the point which you open Pride in London registrations.

Floats

Are you going to have a float in any of the parades?

These cost somewhere between £10,000 and £30,000 depending on how big and flashy you want to make them. You will need to decide in January if you want a float in each parade, as you will need to pay the appropriate registration fees early in the year. This is especially important for Pride in London.

You will need to contract with a company through open competition to secure a float. You may exceptionally be able to argue for a single tender award if you believe this is there is a justification for this. Your tender will likely need to be to secure the equipment but also the design and production services; you don’t want to be attaching scaffolding to a lorry on the morning of the parade – out-source this or you’ll regret it. It is also advisable to get the supplier to complete all necessary applications and health and safety checks on your behalf. Ensure the contract includes the driver and co-driver for the vehicle too.2

In the run up to the events

There are a number of things you likely will need to do in advance of each event. Again, these are easier to achieve if you have someone locally who can do it for you.

Briefing sessions

Most pride events require that those taking part send someone to a pre-event briefing to cover off things like health and safety. These are usually compulsory; or you lose your place. Keep an eye out for the invite and do it earlier than later; processes change each year and this is the best way to know what to expect.

Allocate places or send pre-event information

If you do a lottery, you’ll need to allocate places and let people know they have them. We recommend this happens at least 6 weeks in advance of the event.

Regardless of whether you held a lottery or not for places, it’s a good idea to remind people what to expect. It provides an opportunity for pre-event socials, t-shirt pick-ups/purchases, and that kind of thing.

You will likely get lots of people drop out at this stage, and you should try to substitute for additional people as quickly as possible to avoid empty places.

Keep reminding people

Keep reminding people of the logistics in the run up to the day; it will limit drop outs from people forgetting, and it will avoid you being flooded with questions.

About 2 weeks in advance of each event, publish joining instructions for the event covering meeting points, times, and any other advice people need for the day. Don’t forget to arrange a social for afterwards and include details in the joining instructions too.

On the day

Get materials to the meeting point

You will need around 4 volunteers to help with moving boxes with placards, banners and t-shirts to the meeting point. Timings will vary but you will probably want to meet around 10:00am to get everything.

If you have a float, you will additionally need wheel walkers (usually 4 or 6) to meet the float when it arrives at the starting point. This is usually before midday at Pride in London but will vary at other locations.

Check in process

You will need to check people in and, if appropriate, give them materials and (for London) wristbands. Do this at least an hour before you’re due to the set off for the parade start point.

Do the parade

This one’s easy. Make sure you have food and water for you and volunteers; it’ll already feel like a long day before you even start the parade.

After the parade

Keep a batch of volunteers behind to drop off materials back to the office.


That’s basically it! It may seem relatively simple – but it can get very stressful if you leave it to the last minute; so make sure you plan early and do as much in advance as you can.

  1. In 2019, the Network organised participation in London, Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Newcastle and Preston. It further supported events in Glasgow and Manchester. 

  2. You may want to include ‘wheel walkers’ in your tender too – but bear in mind that (for Pride in London at least) this is an opportunity to get up to 6 additional places for the parade, so best to let volunteers do this.