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University leads the way in LGBTQ award nominations

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Published on 26 April 2019

LGBTQ North East Awards
LGBTQ North East Awards

Our University has received a string of nominations in this year's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) North East Awards

Tireless campaigner Drew Dalton, a Sociology Lecturer and Programme Leader in MSc Inequality and Society, has been named in the Outstanding Contribution category in the Awards, created by Sunderland-based LGBTQ charitable project Rainbow Foundation. The category looks to highlight the work of organisations, community groups and individuals and the positive contributions they make to the LGBTQ community in the region.

Our University is also one of six finalists in the award's Creating Safer Learning Spaces category, for their work to support LGBTQ students in their developments.

Alongside this shortlisting, University Chaplain Chris Howson is a finalist in the Ally of the Year category for his continued work to make the University a safe space for all.

The University's media platform SR News and student radio station, Spark, have been named as finalists in the Inclusive Arts & Media Award for their work to provide inclusive media content.

Ryan Houston, Founder of Rainbow Foundation, said: "The awards provide an opportunity to highlight the great the work that takes place in the North East that has a huge impact on the lives of LGBTQ people.”

Justine Gillespie, Head of HR Business Partnering at the University, said: "We are delighted to be one of six finalists in the upcoming LGBTQ North East Awards in the category of Creating Safer Learning Spaces for LGBTQ People. Our University values and celebrates the diversity of all its students and staff. We are committed to providing an environment free from discrimination, bullying, harassment or victimisation, where all members of our community are treated with respect and dignity. We aim to create a culture of diversity and inclusivity within our community, providing a dynamic working and learning environment, where all members are valued for their contribution and individuality."


Drew Dalton has spent the last 15 plus years in campaigning and community work as both a paid staff member and volunteer, working alongside a wide range of adults and young people. He has set up two community organisations outside of his work: Thrive NE, an HIV organisation for those living with HIV in the North East of England as well as LGBT History Project, which documents the often forgotten lives of LGBT people and which trains teachers in schools and colleges on LGBT issues.

Drew’s work highlights the issues of those living in poverty and socio-economically deprived areas of the North East, LGBT communities and persecuted LGBT Muslims, global human rights campaigns and those living with ‘hidden disabilities’ such as HIV. At the University of Sunderland, Drew has helped to introduce the first HIV policy for staff and is about to launch the first ever Charter Mark for businesses across the UK, which aims to tackle HIV-related stigma in places of employment. His research has highlighted the widespread stigma of HIV in the UK as well as the effects of government austerity measures on HIV organisations that are feeling the impact due to cuts in the sector.

Hidayah, a British organisation that supports LGBT+ Muslims, and of which Drew is Chair, has also been nominated in the Outstanding Contribution category.

On being nominated, Drew said: “I am delighted to be nominated for this award and it is wonderful to be recognised that I am a small part of helping to make a difference. However, the real thanks goes to the strong teams and committee members who have helped to run these organisations, as well as all of those people who have helped to support me in my research. I am very excited about the event!”

The awards, which were created by Sunderland based LGBTQ charitable project Rainbow Foundation, recognise the positive contributions made by individuals, organisations and groups across the region to improve the lives of members of the LGBTQ community.

The 2019 awards have been sponsored by Gentoo, University of Sunderland, Up North Media Group and Team Tilly Creations and Entertainment.

The awards consist of six categories: Ally of the Year, Inclusive Arts & Media, Charity & Community Initiative, Outstanding Contribution to LGBTQ Life, Creating Safer Learning Spaces and Inspirational Workplace.

There will also be a special award presented on the evening to acknowledge Lifetime Achievement.

The 2019 award ceremony will be held on Thursday 16th May, to coincide with International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia taking place the next day. The event will be held at Sunderland College, City Campus.

Nominations can be made online via gaywearside.co.uk.

The LGBTQ North East awards are organised by Rainbow Foundation Sunderland, a charitable project supporting LGBTQ life in Wearside.

This year's event will take place at Sunderland College, City Campus, on Thursday 16th May. 

Previous Winners:


Sunderland College

Lui Asquith

Northern Pride 

Northern Proud Voices