Bolton Pride’s importance is in its ability to reach different demographics, says LGBT Foundation.

This year’s Bolton Pride takes place this weekend, and it is an opportunity for those in the borough who might otherwise feel marginalised to be themselves and be surrounded by likeminded people and allies.

It’s also an opportunity highlight services that people in the LGBTQ+ community can access to help them in their everyday lives.

READ: Bolton LGBTQ+ community leader on coming out, experiences and changing attitudes

One such organisation is the LGBT Foundation, a nationwide service that exists to support the needs of the diverse community.

It's services are wide-ranging, including helping community groups get set up and to be inclusive spaces, sexual health, online resources, a helpline and a befriending service.

Hiren Patel, 31, grew up in Bolton, and is a Project Coordinator at the foundation. He said: “All our volunteers are trained up in terms of safeguarding and wellbeing, which is important.

The Bolton News: Hiren Patel - LGBT Foundation Hiren Patel - LGBT Foundation

“We have systems for hate crime reporting and support. We also help people recognise what a hate crime is, and how if differs from a regular crime. A lot of people don’t know.”

The LGBT Foundation will be present throughout the weekend, offering advice and information to Pride-goers.

“Bolton Pride is really important,” Hiren said. “Big cities like Brighton and Manchester are great, but it’s important in smaller towns to reach different demographics to get that exposure.

“It means that people who might feel uncomfortable in Bolton will know that support is there.

“It’s very important, not just for the LGBT community, but the whole Bolton population.”

Hiren says that he has something a double-barrelled experience growing up, citing his sexuality and his South Asian heritage as ways he might have been a target for hate crime.

The Bolton News: LGBT Foundation representatives at their stall at a Pride eventLGBT Foundation representatives at their stall at a Pride event

He says, however, that he does not feel that he was the victim of hate crime, rather there were just certain times when he felt uncomfortable.

“I don’t remember there being much in the way of Bolton Pride, and I think it would have been very helpful.”

He also says he does not remember a great deal of LGBTQ+ focus within educational settings, another thing that might have helped him in his youth.