The LGBT Foundation announces the closure of the Gay Village community center
For over 45 years, the LGBT Foundation has supported the LGBT + community.
Their community center at 5 Richmond Street has been a staple in Manchester Gay Village since it opened in 2010.
However, the charity has now announced that it has decided not to renew the centre’s lease and will focus its efforts elsewhere.
The move comes in the wake of the charity’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen the majority of their support services operate remotely.
The charity has also seen a growing need for staff and volunteers, which the charity says means the community center is no longer suited to its purpose.
“We are extremely proud of our history and heritage in the incredible Gay Village of Manchester, one of the few remaining major LGBT neighborhoods in the UK,” said Paul Martin OBE, Managing Director of the Foundation today. LGBT.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without our space in the heart of the city, which has allowed many to find a safe haven and a place where they can truly be themselves, often for the first time in their lives. life.
“However, it has become clear that we have outgrown our current building.
“The number of our employees has grown, our volunteer base continues to grow, and the diversity and number of services we provide has grown. “
The LGBT Foundation offers a hotline as well as a number of support groups and services aimed directly at the LGBT + community across the country.
In April, the charity told MEN it had received an influx of calls during the start of the lockdown – almost double the amount it would normally receive.
Between March 23 and April 12, their advice line also recorded a 450pc increase in calls specifically relating to biphobia. Calls regarding homophobia and transphobia have also increased.
There has also been an additional demand for services based on mental health and suicide.
Read more of today’s stories here
“Since the lockdown, many more people are using our services than ever before,” added Paul.
“Every day more and more people call our helpline, everyone is looking for help getting out, reporting a hate crime, getting help with life challenges or just reaching out. due to isolation.
“Our staff and volunteers have adapted incredibly to remote work, moving counseling and support group sessions online, publishing HIV test kits and health resources, developing an online training academy and introducing a new friendship telephone service for the most isolated of our communities.
“We are extremely proud of their commitment and tenacity in making this happen so easily and so quickly.
“We know this has been a very difficult time for many charities, but we have continued to provide the majority of our services throughout the pandemic and with the increasing needs of LGBT people, we know the Foundation LGBT has a vital role to play in the months and years before us.
The decision not to renew the lease, which ended in June, was taken “after a period of reflection” on how best to serve the LGBT + community, with an expansion of their current remote offerings seen as a priority. absolute.
“At the heart of this decision is our commitment to serve our communities in the best possible way,” added Paul.
“We want to help more people in crisis, increase the confidence and well-being of LGBT people and create a stronger movement for LGBT equality – something that seems even more fragile and precarious now than in the past. previous five years. “
The LGBT Foundation says it will always maintain a physical presence, but not in its own purpose-built space.
The charity aims to find space in existing community centers in Greater Manchester and beyond, and also collaborate with organizations on shared spaces and partnered services.
He will help people connect in order to access services and said “any decision made will be made with the needs of our service users in mind as a top priority”.
“We want to assure our communities that this does not mean that access to LGBT spaces is lost – on the contrary, in fact,” says Paul.
“It’s a chance for us to invest in the future and to be there for even more people who need us.
“We are already exploring how to extend our offer remotely with an online Community Hub open to all.
“This will include the engagement and support of those facing digital exclusion, and we are looking at different physical spaces in Manchester Gay Village and other places in Greater Manchester where we can safely provide services in face to face.
“In fact, we intend to offer our services where people live, work and socialize and make sure we reach even more people than ever before. “