Words: Alastair James; pictures: The Wonderment Group
A different type of Pride - which takes a more holistic approach to supporting LGBTQs - is set to go ahead as planned this month.
If you’re looking to take a step back from the traditional Pride events, this may be for you.
Soul Pride Retreat Festival is an inclusive and transformative weekend for the community and allies, which will take place from 8-11 July 2021 in the glorious woodland setting of the Wasing Park Estate in Berkshire.
Last year’s event, like most things in 2020, had to go online as a result of the COVID-pandemic. Now, it’s back with a weekend of in-person sessions.
“It’s something to bring people together”
The event aims to provide a safe and open space for LGBTQs to discuss issues relating to the community. Led by a group of wellbeing warriors, the four-day event looks to support the mind, body, and soul needs of the community.
From health and wellbeing workshops to nature walks and lake swimming, yoga, and Pilates, the event offers a wide range of activities during the day. At night, however, a festival takes over with cabaret, spoken word, circus acts, live music, DJs and woodland dancing every evening.
Chris Fitchew, Creative Director of the Wonderment Group, is behind the retreat and tells Attitude: “The event was set up to bring people together. It’s a no alcohol or drugs events. It’s [...] to converse, and get all kinds of healing in. We want it to be light and fun.
“People can dip in and out of the sessions as they wish, and they can focus on more physical or mental health sessions. People can really design their weekends.”
On what he wants people to take away from the experience, he says: “It’s a chance to pause and be still. Pride is obviously loads of fun, but it can be crazy. Even though we’re here to celebrate and have fun, the vibe is less hectic.
“Everybody’s journey is different, and the options will suit everybody in some way. We want people to come away with a curated journey of inspiration and empowerment.”
“It’s just wonderful that it can go ahead”
Neil Seligman, a barrister-turned-mindfulness coach, is among those leading sessions at the retreat. “I’m really excited," he says. "To go on a four-day event and teach again out in the world is something that is more precious now than ever.
“I’m leading a morning mindfulness meditation which is a way to connect and drop in consciously at the beginning of the day. Then I’m offering a workshop called ‘Pathways to Self-acceptance’ using meditation, pair work and storytelling to cultivate self-acceptance and hear each other’s stories.”
Having changed career, he says his sessions can help people find “who they are and what they do in the world”.
And on what appealed to him about the event, he says: “I’m a bit of a camper at heart. I did a lot of camping in America. This feels like a really nice connection to that and it’s just nice to drop into a community of conscious queer folk and feel connected. It’s outside and covid-safe. It’s just wonderful that it can go ahead.”
This year the event is working with Stonewall as a charitable trust, and the event is also launching its ‘Angel sponsorship’, so those who can afford to can gift a ticket to someone who’s unable to.
Tickets can be purchased through the website at soulpride.org. Attitude readers can get a 20% discount using the code: ATTITUDE-SP21.
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