COVID crisis fund helps deliver ‘life-saving’ support for LGBT+ people

Hundreds of LGBT+ people across London will benefit from funding aimed at addressing soaring levels of mental ill health as a result of coronavirus.

Almost £1 million from the latest wave of funding from the London Community Response Fund (LCRF) – set up to help charities cope with the impact of the pandemic – has gone to LGBT+-led projects.

Organisations to benefit include those offering mentoring and social activities for young transgender people and online support to black, Asian and minority ethnic gay, bisexual and trans men.

Since it launched in March, the fund, administered by City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder – has given out around £25 million, working in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund, which has committed £7 million to the fund, made possible thanks to National Lottery players.

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:

“COVID-19 has changed everyone’s lives but LGBT+ people have been particularly affected, often as a result of vital social or support networks being reduced or stopped altogether since the pandemic began.

“Many of them have endured enforced lockdown with family members who may be unsupportive, or even hostile, leaving them feeling vulnerable and at increased risk of issues such as depression, anxiety or suicidal feelings.

“The work that LGBT+ charities do is needed now more than ever, and this funding – thanks to the generosity of all those companies and organisations which have donated to the LCRF – is helping them continue to provide what is in many cases life-saving practical and emotional support.”

In the latest wave of LCRF funding, a total of £940,999 was allocated to LGBT+ led projects, of which £465,871 went to projects specifically targeting LGBT+ communities.

Among those organisations to benefit are Brixton-based LGBT HERO, which received a grant of £16,835 to offer online individual and group support sessions to gay, bisexual and transgender men from BAME communities.

Earlier this year, a survey of 2,333 LGBT+ people carried out by the organisation found 79% said their mental health had been negatively impacted by lockdown, while rates of depression and anxiety almost doubled.

Ian Howley, LGBT HERO chief executive, said:

“Even before coronavirus, LGBT+ people were more likely to experience mental health issues, and within minority groups those rates are even higher. The pandemic and the lockdown have just amplified a lot of the issues that were already there.

“Often people from BAME backgrounds can’t be open about their sexuality at home, they may have family who are homophobic and in some cases we’ve seen people who have been trapped in a domestic violence situations.

“Having a safe space where people can come and talk about what they’re going through, and to feel comfortable in being themselves, is absolutely vital.”

King’s Cross-based Gendered Intelligence received a grant of £20,000 from the LCRF, which it has used for mentoring young transgender people and for an online ‘digi-residential’ programme to replace camping trips which fell victim to COVID.

Dr Jay Stewart, Gendered Intelligence CEO, said:

“Many of our young people experience mental health issues which seem to have worsened in recent years. Gender-diverse young people sometimes have challenging family relationships, which can be even more difficult when everyone’s at home more.

"People often feel isolated or alone with their feelings, but what we try to do is reduce isolation, help them build social networks and feel like they’re part of a community and foster an increased sense of pride in their gender identity.”

Case study: ‘Black gay and bisexual men are often overlooked’

Health and wellbeing activist, Phil Samba, who got involved with LGBT HERO to make a difference in his community, said:

“Over the last several years I have seen first-hand how LGBT HERO has been incredible for black gay and bisexual men. I benefited from their support where they gave me an opportunity to co-develop campaigns leading to me building a platform to make a huge difference within my community.

“Black gay and bisexual men are often overlooked in health promotion, especially within sexual health campaigns and messaging, but LGBT HERO stepped up at a time when we needed them most, bringing different kinds of men together to support one another in creating projects and spaces where black gay and bisexual men can thrive and make an impact.

“I have seen how many of the men who began their journey with me have grown and become role models within our community. I’m really thankful for all the work that LGBT HERO does.”

More information on the London Community Response Fund is at https://londoncommunityresponsefund.org.uk while LGBT Hero is at www.lgbthero.org.uk and Gendered Intelligence at www.genderedintelligence.co.uk

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

About the London Community Response Fund

The London Community Response Fund has been established by City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charity funder, as part of the wider London Community Response that is being co-ordinated by the membership network, London Funders.

It is working in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund to distribute nearly £7 million in grants to support organisations to keep providing vital services to London communities through the pandemic.

London Community Response Fund is one of eight expert partnerships, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, to ensure almost £59m of National Lottery funding reaches communities most vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19. The move is part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s COVID-19 emergency response and means it will benefit from the partnerships’ collective expertise and networks to ensure funding is distributed to even more communities.

The partnerships will focus on supporting organisations that work with those communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

About The National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.

We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

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