Hello everyone! This is the fifth episode of our new blog series dedicated to Ecce Homo’s community partners, that is, all those non-profit LGBTIQ+ organizations around the world that are proud members of our Corporate Social Responsibility program! Last week, I introduced you to ‘Single Step Foundation’, and their initiatives aiming at the empowerment and support of LGBTIQ+ folks in Bulgaria. This week is all about the UK-based members of our colourful family. Our partner to this journey is the ‘LGBT Foundation’. In what follows, we are going to learn more about their decades-long history, their mission, and the multifaceted programs they run. I want to remind you once again that this blog series is part of Ecce Homo’s long-term engagement to promote the visibility of its community allies by taking up the role of media sponsor. In addition, I hope it constitutes an opportunity for our customers and friends to be kept informed of the activities of the organizations they choose to support via their purchase, ensuring this way both their active engagement and the non-negotiable transparency of our CSR program. 

According to their site,

‘At LGBT Foundation we have a rich and passionate history of grassroots activism and community involvement, with a track record dating back to 1975. As the needs of LGBT people have changed so have we, responding to an evolving landscape as well as to changes to health and support needs.’

LGBT Foundation (and its predecessor The Lesbian & Gay Foundation) was formed out of the merger of two community groups, both initially serving LGBT people in Manchester. Manchester Lesbian & Gay Switchboard Services (MLGSS) began life 45 years ago, on 2 January 1975. Following the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1967, six gay men came together in a back bedroom to provide any information and support service for the growing number of men starting to come out. To this day, the Helpline remains a vital part of the Foundation’s work, delivered by both staff and trained volunteers. 

In 1994, their current Chief Executive Paul Martin OBE became one of the founder members of Healthy Gay Manchester, having arrived in Manchester in 1989. The charity was formed in response to the HIV epidemic and was dedicated to improving sexual health amongst gay and bi men. In April 2000 the two charities merged, becoming the UK’s largest health and community charity for LGBT people, yet retained its community activism origins. In 2015 they became fully trans-inclusive and changed our name to LGBT Foundation.

Foundation’s history has indeed enfolded alongside the evolution of the LGBTIQ+ rights in the UK, a powerful and hopeful reminder of the fact that ‘it gets better!'. Over time, they have witnessed and responded to the decriminalization of homosexuality, the emergence of HIV and AIDS and its devastating impact, the passing and the subsequent abolition of Section 28, the removal of homosexuality from the WHO list of mental illnesses, the ending of the ban on LGBT people serving in the armed forces, the gaining of adoption rights for same-sex couples and equal birthrights for lesbians and bisexual women, the passing of the Gender Recognition Act, the essential workplace protections as well as protections in the provision of goods and services for all LGBT people, and the introduction of Civil Partnerships and same-sex marriage equality, among others.

As of 2019, LGBT Foundation is the largest LGBT health and community services charity in the UK, offering a range of services serving over 40,000 people in person and over 600,000 people online every year. Among these indispensable services are the following:

-                  A recent Coronavirus Hub offering support to every single LGBT person who needs their help during the pandemic. In this context, they have compiled an essential guide to LGBT rights during the pandemic and a pamphlet named ‘10 ways for you to safely affirm your LGBT identity during lockdown’. 
 -                  The Bring Dementia Out is their new program to address the challenges faced by LGBT people living with dementia and those who are supporting them. To see this through, they will develop training that will encourage the accurate monitoring of residents, service users, and clients, as well as support dementia and housing organizations to understand and address the challenges LGBT people living with dementia face. 
 -                  The Domestic Abuse Service offers support to individuals who are currently at risk of or who have previously experienced domestic abuse whether this is from a partner(s), ex-partner(s), or family member(s). This service provides practical help and advice, and emotional support for those who have been, or currently are experiencing domestic abuse. 
-                  The Hate Crime Reporting and Support Service is working to increase awareness of hate crimes and encourage victims and witnesses to come forward whether it regards assault, harassment, or abuse, online or in person. 
-                  The Helpline and Email Support offers support and advice on a range of topics in a non-judgmental way covering a wide range of topics such as mental health, loneliness, coming out, gender identity and sexual orientation, sexual health, hate crime cases, etc. 
-                  Their legal counselors can advise on all relationship/family matters including pre-nuptial agreements, divorce/dissolution, cohabitee disputes, and matters relating to children including issues arising under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, donor agreements, and child arrangement orders. 
-                  The Pride in Ageing initiative is ensuring that the voices of LGBT people over the age of 50 are heard when it comes to aging policy and activity. It is also set to launch a new quality assurance standard and social prescribing service, which will help adult social care services and housing providers to better support their LGBT residents and service users. 
-                  The Pride in Practice program works with GP practices, dental surgeries, pharmacies, and optometrists to ensure that all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people have access to inclusive healthcare that understands and meets the needs of our communities. 
-                  The Recovery Program offers one-to-one support, chemsex support, telephone and online support, referral for specialist GBL/GHB and alcohol detox and rehab, and access to mutual aid and peer support groups. 
-                  Their Sexual Health services are here to help everyone regarding HIV, condoms and lube, testing and counseling, PrEP, PEP, STIs, chemsex, etc. In this context, they publish many informative sexual and health guides. 
-                  A Talking Therapy Service offers access to LGBT affirmative therapy, counseling with an LGBT specialist therapist, and free sessions to individuals and couples. The counselling can address anxiety, bereavement, depression, problems in relationships, etc.
For more information on LGBT Foundation, please visit: http://lgbt.foundation (available in English)   

LGBT Foundation on social media: FacebookTwitter, and Instagram