Marie Curie has launched the first nationwide charity rainbow badge in support of LGBT+ people.

The terminal illness charity has launched the pin to help service users feel welcome and safe to be who they are, as well as giving staff the opportunity to show their support for the LGBT+ community.

Hannah Taylor, the head of fundraising for Marie Curie in the North, lives in Ladybridge and is proud to wear the new pin, as she has received verbal abuse and hate mail in the past because of her sexuality.

She said: “In my early career I was asked if I had a boyfriend and I said ‘yes’. I regretted the words as soon as they came out of my mouth and I was so disappointed with myself – I’d betrayed myself and my girlfriend.

“Once people have been corrected, most people learn not to make assumptions again, but the impact every time on the person is a reminder you’re not seen as ‘normal’. I mainly find it tiring but it also makes you feel vulnerable.

“Now, if you put those same scenarios into context of someone being terminally ill and in the last days of their life, when the stakes are much higher – the decision to ‘out’ yourself is a big one.

“The Rainbow Pin is such a positive move to help overcome these situations, and I am proud to wear my pin as a visual sign that Marie Curie is a place where people who identify as LGBTQ+ are respected, valued and accepted.”

Staff and volunteers wanting to wear the new badge are required to complete an e-learning module to ensure they understand diversity and some specific LGBT+ language and issues.

Research funded by the charity shows that some members of the LGBT+ community experience barriers to accessing palliative and end of life care as they may delay seeking support or hide their sexuality or gender identity.

Reasons for this are said to be complex but include the anticipation of discrimination when accessing health care.

The charity has also launched a booklet to explain the care and support available for LGBT+ people.