Press release: The London LGBTQ+ Community Centre set to open for a six-month pop-up in the heart of Central London

  • A temporary pilot for a sober, intergenerational, inclusive LGBTQ+ Community Centre opens in early December on Bankside
  • Funded through a crowdfunder and the National Lottery, the space will be informed by latest research into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on London’s LBGTQ+ communities
  • The Centre will provide a cafe, lounge space, social space for events, and LGBTQ+ specific service provision including mental health, sexual health, and services supporting trans, youth and older LGBTQ+ people
  • The Centre has received support from the Mayor of London and Southwark Council
  • The Centre is working with partner groups including Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence and Tonic Housing 

London’s LGBTQ+ Community Centre opens on 1 December as a temporary pop up space for six months on the Bankside close to the Tate Modern. Modelled on similar centres in New York, Los Angeles, Birmingham and Manchester, the Centre, mostly run by volunteers, will be a safe, inclusive, sober, intergenerational and intersectional space run by the community for the community. 

The pop-up will provide a cafe and meeting space open to the public and available to LGBTQ+ groups for hire. It will be a place where chosen families can form and flourish — where LGBTQ+ Londoners and visitors of any age or identity can relax, be themselves, feel safe, build connections, and access services. To champion intersectionality and inclusion and combat poverty and classism, all of the Centre’s offerings will be genuinely affordable. Through comprehensive and LGBTQ+ specific services, signposting and information provision under one roof, including mental health, sexual health, services supporting trans, youth, older LGBTQ+ people, as well as a programme of sober events, the pop-up will provide a tonic to London’s huge LGBTQ+ population which has been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. [1] 

The pandemic has shown all of us the true power of communities. During 2020, the organisation provided mutual aid through online services like the Queer Skills Swap, and now with the physical space will help LGBTQ+ Londoners reduce isolation, improve wellbeing and connections to the community, as well as provide a safe space to many who may have been forced to live with homophobic, transphobic or biphobic family members or housemates, navigated financial uncertainties or struggled with mental health.

With nearly 60% LGBTQ+ venues in London closing in the last decade1, 24% of homeless young people identifying as LGBTQ+2, LGBTQ+ people being more at risk of poor mental health3, and with hate crimes related to sexual orientation and gender identity increasing year on year since 20154, the need for a space like this has never been greater. The pop-up intends to transform into a permanent LGBTQ+ Community Centre in the capital continuously serving LGBTQ+ Londoners’ needs.

Funded through a 2018 crowdfunder as well as recently acquired support from the National Lottery, the pop-up Centre will be informed by a user-first approach through latest research conducted by the organisation into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on London’s LGBTQ+ communities. The A New Queer London survey has been running since August 2021 and is open until 15 November [2]—an opportunity for queer Londoners to directly shape the Centre according to their needs in the present post-lockdown London. This is the second time the project has conducted research into community needs to ensure the Centre is useful, accessible and safe for all members of the LGBTQ+ community in London and genuinely rooted in their needs. In 2018, an initial research period showed enormous need for a physical space which included a sustainable cafe (72% respondents), event space (67%), mental health service provision (61%) and sexual health service provision (53%). The publication of the most recent findings on what LGBTQ+ Londoners need from a physical Community Centre nearly two years into the Covid-19 pandemic is to coincide with the pop-up opening in December.

The Community Centre team is working with queer architect Martha Summers on the design of the pop-up space. Martha Summers has worked in the UK and Switzerland on a range of projects from design to construction including schools, exhibitions, and workplaces.  In her own practice, she donates time to community projects that require non-normative ways of making buildings. Between 2017-2020 she was heavily involved in the creation of the Feminist Library’s new space in Peckham. 

Martha said: “It’s so exciting to take part in the creation of this much-needed space, in such a central location. 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.”

Among the groups making the most of the Centre during its six-month opening are trans charities Mermaids and Gendered Intelligence, older LGBTQ+ people’s charities Opening Doors and Tonic Housing

Carrie Lyall, Mermaids’ Digital Engagement Manager said “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 in our community, and we look forward to working with our friends at London LGBTQ+ Community Centre Project and others on filling this space with trans joy.”

Matthew Riley, Tonic Housing’s Communications and Marketing Manager said: “From experience, we know how crucial LGBTQ+ affirming spaces are to our community’s safety and quality of life. We’re super excited to see the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre pop-up open, and can’t wait to see how this much-needed project grows!” 

The Centre is being set up with generous support from Southwark Council, who have helped the team in sourcing the pop-up location. 

The project has received support from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan who pledged to support the creation of an LGBTQ+ Community Centre in London in his election manifesto. He said: “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 for all LGBTQ+ communities to be themselves, reduce isolation and improve wellbeing.

“London will always be a beacon of inclusiveness, acceptance and diversity and I’m really proud to support the creation of this LGBTQ+ Community Centre in the heart of our city and will do all I can to transform it into a permanent space.”

–ENDS–

Notes for editors

**An old version of this press release went out with an error in the headline, due to an honest mistake made by a member of our volunteer team. The mistake in question suggested that this is the first centre of its kind opening in London. We would like to clarify that this is not the case and that there have been several community spaces in the past serving the LGBTQ+ community in London including Farringdon’s Lesbian and Gay centre that opened in 1985.

There are several LGBTQ+ community spaces currently operating in London, including ELOP, London Friend, The Outside Project, Metro and Mosaic. They provide invaluable services to our communities and are much-needed projects in our city. The London LGBTQ+ Community Centre offers the opportunity to bring a range of services and community interests together under one roof, with a community café – similar to projects in Manchester and Birmingham.

Unfortunately, as our work is done by volunteers, occasionally mistakes happen. However, we have issued a correction to the news outlets we originally contacted and requested for this mistake to be corrected. We hope that the organisations and individuals doing exceptional work to serve our community understand, and apologise for any confusion and hurt caused.**

[1] LGBT Foundation’s Covid-19 community survey of LGBT people living in the UK has found that:

  • 42% would like to access support for their mental health at this time. This rises to 66% of BAME LGBT people, 48% of disabled LGBT people, 57% of trans people and 60% of non-binary people.
  • 30% are living alone at this time. This rises to 40% of LGBT people aged 50+.
  • 25% would like support to reduce their isolation, such as a befriending service.
  • 18% are concerned that this situation is going to lead to substance or alcohol misuse or trigger a relapse. This rises to 20% of BAME LGBT people, 23% of disabled people, 22% of trans people and 24% of non-binary people.
  • 8% do not feel safe where they are currently staying. This includes 9% of BAME LGBT people, 15% of disabled LGBT people, 17% of trans people and 17% of non-binary people.
  • 16% had been unable to access healthcare for non-Covid related issues. This rises to 22% of BAME LGBT people, 26% of disabled LGBT people,
  • 27% of trans people, 27% of non-binary people, and 18% of LGBT people aged 50+.
  • 34% have had a medical appointment cancelled. This rises to 39% of BAME LGBT people, 42% of disabled LGBT people, 38% of trans people, 37% of non-binary people, and 42% of LGBT people aged 50+.
  • 23% were unable to access medication or were worried that they might not be able to access medication. This includes 37% of BAME LGBT people, 36% of disabled LGBT people, 45% of trans people, 21% of non-binary people, and 21% of LGBT people aged 50+.
  • 64% said that they would rather receive support during this time from an LGBT specific organisation. This rises to 71% of BAME LGBT people, 69% of disabled LGBT people, 76% trans people and 74% of non-binary people.

[2] ‘A new queer London: LGBTQ+ communities and spaces beyond Covid-19’ is London LGBTQ+ Community Centre’s research project into the impact on the pandemic on LGBTQ+ communities in London and their needs relating to the pop-up opening in December as well as the future permanent Centre. It will ensure the Centre is useful, accessible and safe for all members of the LGBTQ+ community in London and genuinely rooted in their needs. It is open until 15 November 2021. It takes around six minutes to complete. It is accessible at  https://londonlgbtqcentre.org/research

The London LGBTQ+ Community Centre is a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) and in the process of becoming a registered charity. The concept for the Centre came out of conversations between friends and was brought to life by a group of volunteers. Since the inception of the project in 2017, hundreds of volunteers have contributed time, expertise and enthusiasm to get us to where we are now. To find out more about our core team, visit www.londonlgbtqcentre.org/meet-the-team 

WEBSITE https://londonlgbtqcentre.org/ 

IG/TW/FB @LDNLGBTQCentre

The National Lottery Community Fund is the operating name of The Big Lottery Fund.

Through 2018-19, The National Lottery Community Fund supports all kinds of projects across the UK. From small, grassroots organisations to ongoing partnerships with expert leaders across the sector, our work is varied and far-reaching.

The National Lottery Community Fund supports ideas and projects that matter to people and communities. Through their funding and relationships to help create stronger, more connected communities.

WEBSITE https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk

IG/FB @TNLCommunityFund 

TW @TNLComFund