The Daily Telegraph

National Trust criticised over Pride plans

Volunteers encouraged to wear rainbow face paint and glitter, amid growing concerns over woke agenda

- By Hayley Dixon SPECIAL CORRESPOND­ENT

THE National Trust has asked volunteers at an 18th-century palace to don face paint and glitter to mark Pride month despite growing backlash from members over its “woke” policies. Volunteers

at Ickworth in Suffolk have been encouraged to dress up in colourful clothes, wear rainbow flowers in their hair, wear multi-coloured makeup and have their face or body painted when they turn up at work on Friday.

It is part of celebratio­ns across the National Trust, which is encouragin­g its properties to support Pride and says on its website that they will be “inviting the teams at our places to wear their rainbow colours”.

It is not the first time that the charity has been criticised over its requests for staff and volunteers to wear the gay pride symbol. In 2017 it was forced to U-turn on an instructio­n that those working at Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk who refused to wear rainbow lanyards and badges had to take on backroom roles.

The trust said that all requests to participat­e in Pride were optional and though it had sent guidance to its properties, the celebratio­ns at Ickworth were being organised locally.

In a letter, seen by The Daily Telegraph, volunteers were told that they would be “bringing the Pride celebratio­ns to Ickworth” as marches are still limited by coronaviru­s restrictio­n. Volunteers

are “invited” to get involved if they are working at the Georgian Italianate palace on Friday.

The instructio­ns state: “Dress up, put on that rainbow scarf, wear your rainbow lanyard, add all the colour of the rainbow to flowers in your hair, wear that rainbow tie or bow tie.”

Volunteers, many of whom are elderly, are invited to “rainbow up your make-up – nails … eye shadow, lipstick” or to ask for a “National Trust Pride T-shirt”. The suggestion­s continue: “Face paint and biodegrada­ble glitter!”

The message concludes that “by the property showing their support by getting involved means not one of our colleagues is singled out for wishing to celebrate”.

But it is understood that some volunteers are uncomforta­ble at the request and with having to work on the day.

It comes as morale is said to be at an all-time low amid concern that the trust is too focused on a “woke” agenda and not on preserving historic houses.

Workers have complained to grassroots campaign group Restore Trust that the charity has embraced political agendas without taking the wishes of the volunteers or wider membership into account.

Sir John Hayes, the chairman of the Common Sense Group of Conservati­ve MPS, said: “The National Trust haven’t so much lost the plot as left the planet.”

A trust spokesman said that “like many organisati­ons” they have been celebratin­g Pride month as “part of our wider drive to create a welcoming place for anyone to work or volunteer”. They added: “We have issued a guide to Pride to properties to give them background about the month, and offer ideas about how they might get involved.”

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