'So affirming’: Harold Wood man running West Ham LGBT+ group is finalist in national awards
- Credit: Aled Llywelyn
A man from Harold Wood who runs a football LGBT+ support group has been announced as a finalist at this year’s National Diversity Awards (NDA).
Jim Dolan is up for the Positive Role Model Award for LGBT for his work establishing and managing Pride of Irons, a group giving a voice to LGBT+ West Ham fans.
The 40-year-old decided to set up the group after hearing a man shout homophobic abuse during a game.
Following the match, he put a tweet out to see if others were interested in banding together to form a network, and, as Jim puts it, “it all kind of snowballed from there”, with Pride of Irons forming in February 2014.
The group delivers a range of services supporting LGBT+ members of the West Ham fanbase, including working with football's inclusion organisation Kick it Out to educate those who have already committed homophobic offences.
“If you give people a chance to redeem themselves, very often they will,” Jim said.
Reiterating the importance of having conversations, Jim said he believes it is essential that some sort of commonality is sought if greater tolerance is to be encouraged.
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“If you can find the common ground, you can lower the volume and have a conversation.”
Upon learning that he was to be a finalist at the awards, Jim said he was “shaking” but it was "so affirming" to be recognised.
Paul Sesay, founder and chief executive of the NDA, said: “What an incredible year it has been for nominations. We received more than ever before showcasing the UK’s role models in all their glory.
“Producing this shortlist was extremely difficult due to the vast amount of invaluable work being carried out. The UK has truly embraced the spirit of the National Diversity Awards by uniting through adversity to create a host of incredible initiatives.
“The profound impact made by all our nominees is life changing, and I feel humbled to know that so much goodness is all around us."
Previous winners of an NDA include Black Girls Hike founder Rhiane Fatinikun, domestic abuse charity WAVES Counselling Project and actor Warwick Davis.
This year’s ceremony will take place at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on September 16.