Lee Caldwell and Claire Harrop are school partnership officers for the Foundation, based in Greater Manchester high schools to support pupils and deliver extra-curricular programmes. As Stonewall ambassadors they will aim to raise awareness through staff training and celebrating LGBT+ in the communities in which the Foundation works.
This follows the announcement last month that Manchester United has entered a strategic partnership with LGBT+ equality charity Stonewall. United signed up to Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme to strengthen its work in the promotion of diversity and inclusion under its banner of ‘All Red All Equal’. This includes participation in Stonewall’s Workplace Allies programme to help non-LGBT+ employees across the club and Foundation to actively support and promote an LGBT+-inclusive culture.
Local schools will also benefit from a Rainbow Laces education programme being rolled out by Manchester United Foundation who will be challenging pupils to understand, identify and discuss gender stereotypes.
Claire and Lee attended a two-day ‘Train the Trainer’ course at Sheffield United’s Bramhall Lane ground, alongside other staff from community club organisations (CCOs) across the North of England. The course was to equip professionals from the sporting sector, namely CCOs, with the knowledge, tools and confidence required to train others in their community space on how to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying.
As Premier League x Stonewall ambassadors, Lee and Claire aim to use the power of football to bring awareness to the LGBT+ community and be role models to drive change, increase engagement, but most importantly acceptance to people’s choices.
Lee Caldwell (pictured with a student), who represents the Foundation at Manchester Health Academy in Wythenshawe, said: “The Rainbow Laces campaign is a project we all get behind and support, promoting the important message that ‘Everyone in football and sport has a part to play’.
“It is a privilege to be one of the PL x Stonewall ambassadors for Manchester United Foundation. Being an active ally in my school, by celebrating LGBT+, will hopefully change attitudes and unite a community of young people towards ‘Acceptance without exception (Stonewall Motto)’.”
United’s men’s and women’s teams will also come together this weekend to give their backing to the nationwide Rainbow Laces campaign, demonstrating their support for all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people within the game and beyond.