In recognising LGBT+ History Month 2022, it is important to understand and celebrate the incredible work that is happening every day in communities all over the UK. Collaborating with local partners and networks, community foundations have been able to fund many specialist LGBT+ organisations and charities over the years. This work has helped to maximise the impact and voices of LGBT+ led organisations, and provide LGBT+ focused events and festivals - including PRIDE - and other key services.
We want to take a moment to explore some of the amazing LGBT+ support in communities before and during the pandemic, and what the effects of Covid-19 means for future services.
Before the pandemic
One of the causes that Community Foundation for Northern Ireland has actively supported is the safety and rights of LGBT+ people of faith. In 2019 the Foundation funded The Educational Shakespeare Company (ESC) to work with Corrymeela Community, a peace and reconciliation organisation in Ballycastle. Through this partnership they created a video, sharing LGBT+ people’s experiences of being included or excluded from faith communities in Northern Ireland.
In the same year, Quartet Community Foundation identified certain disparities for LGBT+ people in Southwest rural communities. An organisation that wanted to change this was North Somerset LGBT Forum. The Forum was able to provide a community hub with funding from the Foundation to reduce isolation for LGBT+ people and improve access to local services.
Other community organisations have provided a multitude of services over the years. In 2017, Warwickshire Pride was able to use its funding from Heart of England Community Foundation towards providing safe social groups for LGBT+ youths, parents of LGBT+ people, and LGBT+ people with learning difficulties.
Adapting to COVID-19
With emergency funding, smaller charities and community groups were able to provide essential services and adapt during lockdown. The money helped towards online counselling, raising online awareness of services, organising group sessions for young people, and paying towards core costs.
“Through the Community Foundation for Surrey COVID-19 grant, Outline was able to mobilise a remote-working option for our Helpline Services, which ensured we could keep going with our support as normal. The funding enabled the purchase of IT hardware and costs associated with keeping the charity running whilst also developing the technology platforms we had available.”
- Darren Garland-Bonner – Outline
Organisations that have encouraged safe and positive connections have been instrumental in supporting social wellbeing throughout COVID-19.
“We currently have more than 65 LGBT+ individuals in Leeds with whom we are in regular contact. Ages range from 55 up to 91. Our main aims are to promote social inclusion for the public benefit – in particular, elderly people who identify as LGBTQIA+.”
- Friends of Dorothy, a charity that champions social inclusion for older LGBTQIA+ people, has received multiple funds from Leeds Community Foundation.
LGBT Youth Scotland received funding last year from Foundation Scotland towards empowering young LGBT+ people to make positive life choices. The charity provides advice, support, information, and opportunities for participation and friendships – a service that has been crucial during a time when social interactions have been so limited.
Post-pandemic: the work of LGBT+ charities has never been more needed
Covid-19 statistics on mental health highlight the need for sustainable funding for mental wellbeing services for the LGBT+ community.
‘Before lockdown 21% of LGBTQ+ people said they experienced loneliness “very often” or “every day”. During lockdown this more than doubled to 56%.’
- The LGBTQ+ Lockdown Wellbeing Report by LGBT Hero
‘Self-harming among gender diverse people has increased by 7%, compared with 2% in cis-gendered people. In the same period the 34% of LGBTQ+ people reporting “poor” or “extremely poor” mental health has almost doubled to 61%.’
- ‘How covid-19 has exacerbated LGBTQ+ health inequalities’ by Callum Phillips BMJ Clegg scholar
Charities and community organisations have done a phenomenal job to support the mental health of LGBT+ people throughout the pandemic. This has been down to the specialist expertise that has been built up over many years, as well as the resilience and commitment of staff and volunteers.
When Leeds Community Foundation asked Friends of Dorothy how it needed to prepare for the future, they said:
“The Board of Friends of Dorothy has recently engaged in some future visioning and business planning. Top of our list: to get funding for a paid support / coordinator, who can then help to grow our team of volunteers and most importantly ensure the long-term viability of the charity.”
A future of inclusive long-term support for the recovery of LGBT+ people’s mental and physical wellbeing, and for the charities that support them, will be vital following the pandemic.
If you would like to find out more about the work of LGBT+ charities in the UK, you can visit the website of the LGBT Consortium.
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