Volunteers from Thames Water will show their support for Reading’s LGBT+ community by handing out free tap water at the town’s Pride festival on Saturday.
The company, which is a Stonewall Diversity Champion, regularly supports Pride events and will be attending the Reading celebration as part of a series over the summer.
Festival-goers have been encouraged to bring their own reusable bottles to the event which can be topped up at the refill points supplied by Thames Water, cutting down on single-use plastic waste in the process.
As well as rehydrating visitors, Thames Water employees will be marching in the parade through the town, which passes through St Mary’s Butts, Broad Street and Forbury Gardens before finishing at King’s Meadow at midday.
Sarah Gosiewska, Thames Water’s HR and diversity manager, said: “We’re proud of our inclusive culture and working environment that inspires people to respect and value everyone, ensuring everyone feels comfortable to bring their whole selves to work and ultimately striving to provide a great service for our customers.”
The festival site will have two stages with performers including singer Emma Stevens, drag queen Tina Sparkle and the Rock Choir, while dozens of local businesses and charities will take part in the festival.
There will also be a family area where children can take part in arts and crafts, dancing, party games and storytelling, as well as a best-dressed competition for boys and girls.
Jenny Jones, who chairs Thames Water’s LGBT+ and allies network, said: “We’re proud to be ambassadors for Thames Water, championing and supporting LGBT+ people in our workforce and our local communities.
“We’re looking forward to meeting more of our customers and talking about all the work we do every day in the regions we serve.”
Thames Water volunteers also handed out water at London Pride in July and Swindon in August, as well as marching in the Swindon parade and sponsoring the community stage at the event.
Plastic bottles make up 10 per cent of all litter found in the River Thames and can take between 500 and 1,000 years to break down. In an independent taste test carried out earlier this year, many consumers were unable to tell the difference between Thames Water’s tap water and bottled water, with the latter on average being 500 times more expensive.