Opening on 1 December, the space will provide community support for LGBTQI people across the capital
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE BY MONSTERA VIA PEXELS
In an exciting moment for LGBTQIA people living in the capital, a new LGBTQIA-specific community centre has been confirmed to open in London on 1 December. Forming a six-month pop-up on Bankside, the centre will host a café, lounge space, and social space alongside the provision of LGBTQIA-specific services, including mental health support, sexual health advice, and wider services for trans people.
Run by volunteers, the centre aims to support LGBTQIA people of all ages. Funded by the National Lottery amongst wider donations, the space will collate information on the impact of COVID-19 on the LGBTQIA community. Supported by the Mayor of London and Southwark Council, it will be working in conjunction with Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence and Tonic Housing to create a safe space for LGBTQIA people in all their colours.
The legacy of gentrification has meant that many of London’s most cherished LGBTQIA spaces have disappeared. Nearly 60% of LGBTQIA venues have closed, increasing social isolation and reducing community cohesion. COVID-19 has furthered social isolation, with the LGBT Foundation’s COVID-19 community survey of LGBTQIA people living in the UK finding that 42% would like access to mental health support and 30% are living alone, rising to 40% of those aged 50+. Critically, 25% would like to access support to reduce their isolation: the work of the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre is needed now more than ever.
Digital engagement manager at Mermaids and former editor-in-chief of DIVA, Carrie Lyell, states: “Mermaids is proud to support the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre Pop-Up. This vital project will provide a much-needed positive, affirming space for trans, non-binary and gender diverse young people to connect with others. We look forward to filling this space with trans joy”.
Queer architect Martha Summers worked closely on the design of the pop-up space, having previously pioneered the Feminist Library in Peckham. “The pop-up is a great opportunity to test things out in real space and real time and hopefully take lessons forward into a permanent venue. We want to make a space that the community can make their own”, she states.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, adds: “We know LGBTQ+ Londoners have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and the loss of so many of our LGBTQ+ venues means that it has never been more important to have a safe, inclusive, all-day space. London will always be a beacon of inclusiveness, and I will do all I can to transform it into a permanent space”.
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