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Death doesn’t discriminate and neither do we

Freddie Chandler
Freddie Chandler
My name is Dr. Tara Bergara, I am a Specialty Doctor in Palliative Medicine at St Wilfrid’s Hospice. I am also the Voluntary Secretary for the Chichester Pride Committee.

I joined the Chichester Pride team in September of 2022. It’s quite a small group made entirely of volunteers who give a huge amount of their free time to pursue the passion project of Chichester having their own Pride event. Currently, we are a community group who represent the LGBTQIA+ community. Some of the committee are members of the community themselves and others are strong straight allies.

It was founded by two co-chairs, one being Melissa Hamilton who is an amazing lady who does a lot of education through outreach and shares a lot about her experience as a transgender lady to help support plus educate others and the other is Dawn Gracie who has done a lot for St Wilfrid’s Hospice as well, and is very well known in the area and a wonderful ally for the community. They put a monumental amount of effort in, taking over 3 years and being thwarted by the pandemic before they were able to hold the first Chichester Pride in 2022!

At St Wilfrid’s Hospice our core values are already very supportive of inclusion and making sure that we offer compassion to all people. St Wilfrid’s will never say no to someone who needs help in the palliative phase of their life. Our referral criteria is focused on advanced stage of disease or diagnosis, so whether it’s symptom control, emotional support, family support – St Wilfrid’s extend their help to everyone regardless of faith, belief, ethnicity, orientation or gender.

We live in an area where perhaps there is not as much of a visible LGBTQIA+ community at times, which is why Chichester Pride is so important. So, it may not always be immediately obvious that we are here for everyone, but we hope that by St Wilfrid’s being at Chichester Pride ourselves this year we can show that we are here for everyone who needs us.

One of the things I’ve always been conscious of, maybe from my growing up in Brighton, or from my mum’s life lessons, is that we don’t have a choice how we are born or any of our characteristics. We have no control over any of that but the one thing we do have control over is how we conduct ourselves in life, and as we approach the end of our lives effective palliative medicine allows us some choices and support throughout our dying process. St Wilfrid’s is so supportive of any person and making sure that everyone has the best quality of life for as long as possible, as well as comfort and dignity at the end of their life. Death does not discriminate, but neither do we, so we want to make sure that all of us have the access to what we need for a calm, peaceful and dignified death.

St Wilfrid’s have a stall at Chichester Pride this year, and I’m glad we are being more visible and letting people know we, as the local community Hospice, are approachable. This is our way of standing out in the crowd, attending this public event and joining in. Pride is still very much needed in different cities and by attending one of those events we can show that St Wilfrid’s is there for the local LGBTQIA+ community and their families in all their various shapes and forms and that is invaluable.

So, I hope that this lets people know that they are safe under the care of St Wilfrid’s and that all our clinical and medical teams are incredibly supportive. There is no judgement here, you will get respect regardless of your orientation, how you live your life or what your family looks like. There are so many ways to live life and we believe that should be carried on and respected through to how you choose to live your last days as well. We don’t want there to be a perceived barrier or fear of judgement, fear of being misgendered or being unwelcome, to prevent you from accessing excellent palliative care that you are entitled to.

The Chichester Pride event is a real passion project and since last year was so successful and we sold out of tickets, we have been able to expand this year, making the event longer as well as increasing capacity. The Pride committee have listened to feedback from last year about being more diverse and inclusive in the acts and those who represent the committee and we hope that this year everyone will enjoy the expanded variety of acts. I am incredibly proud to get to be a part of making the event happen, but also that the place I work at are so keen to be a part of Chichester Pride and keen to let people know that they can approach us and that they want to support the LGBTQIA+ community. I think I’ve been very lucky.

On the main day, Saturday 27th May 2023, the biggest thing is for everyone to come and enjoy themselves. We have Linda Bacardi, a drag queen who does British Sign Language, so people with hearing impairment can enjoy the acts and music. On the Chichester Pride website there are tickets for everyone including disabled concession and children – it is a family friendly event and if there’s anything that you think means you can’t come then please do email the Chichester Pride team as we want it to be as accessible for everyone. It will be a really good day and we look forward to welcoming everyone.

If you would like to join us in celebrating diversity and inclusion then get your tickets here:

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