For immediate release – Pop-up Community-run LGBTQ+ Centre to stay open for the next five years!
Following an incredibly successful trial period at their Pop-up Centre, the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre team has announced today that they have signed a contract with Southwark Council and will be staying at their current location of 60-62 Hopton Street for at least five years!
Since opening its Pop-up space in December, the Centre has contributed significantly to the rich tapestry of LGBTQ+ community-run organisations and spaces in the capital city, partnering directly with more than 14 LGBTQ+ charities including Gendered Intelligence, Opening Doors London, Black Thrive and Not a Phase, 71 LGBTQ+ community groups and 7 institutions local to the Southwark borough, including Tate Modern and Living Bankside.
The Centre has welcomed more than 1,500 visitors per month through its doors. They’ve hosted more than 200 events, ranging from regular programming which includes free yoga, meditation, book club, film club and sexual health screenings, to special events including an LGBTQ+ climate summit, a Queer Women’s Day and community pride meetups. These events have been attended by more than 4,000 visitors.
The Centre’s proof of concept Pop-up space enabled the team to learn what the community wanted and needed, and the feedback from service users, partners, visitors, volunteers and local residents has been overwhelmingly positive.
Cllr Alice Macdonald, Cabinet Member for Equalities, Neighbourhoods and Leisure, said:
“We are delighted to have agreed a five year lease with the London LGBTQ+ Centre to remain at Bankside. It’s fantastic to have such an important community space in our borough go from a pop-up to more permanent footing for all LGBTQ+ Londoners. We look forward to seeing many more LGBTQ+ people from Southwark and beyond finding support, solidarity, and social events in this much-needed community hub.”
Dan Glass, Aids Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) healthcare and human rights activist, performer, presenter and writer said
“I don’t say this lightly because it’s important to be real – but the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre was excellent in every way. Hugely supportive, accessible, vibrant, welcoming, inspiring and dynamic. On Sat 5th Feb we held a Gay Liberation Front (GLF) event to celebrate and explore the 50th anniversary of Pride – it really struck me the multiplier-effect of the efficacy of our meetings by having such a brilliant space – I hope the space continues long into the future. Thank you for all you do :)”
Dani St James, Founder of partner organisation Not A Phase said
“Our relationship with the LGBTQ+ centre began early on, we worked with the team in a number of ways before they launched, and have since done a number of events with them as well as stock our merchandise in their lovely community shop. The centre is unrivalled in its array of content to suit the needs of all people within our community and they have our full support in the future with any endeavours.”
Visitors said “The space that you all created offered the child I care for safety for a day, in a world that isn’t always so kind to them. You are doing good work, and I’m sure that plenty of people (myself included) are thankful for such an accessible, safe, community-centred space in London.”
“The Centre is more than the sum of its parts, and at its core, it’s a safe space. It’s the one place in Central London, other than my own home, where I can let my guard down; call me naïve, or overly optimistic, but there it is. I am not worried for my safety, physical or psychological, at the Centre, and as a queer, disabled woman in any big city that is no small thing.”
“I really like that the Centre is very open and welcoming. I’ve always felt welcome and felt that the space is safe. The diversity of events is brilliant. Coming from a minority ethnic group, I find my community well respected here.”
This security of this contract will enable the Centre to begin scheduling a regular programme with their partner organisations and will add to the brilliant landscape of newly opened LGBTQ+ venues in London in 2022 so far, such as Queer Britain and Queercircle.
Over the coming weeks, the team will be reflecting on the feedback sent, and making changes to the Centre itself based on this – starting with the installation of accessible bathroom facilities, and other steps towards better accessibility.
Lip Wieckowski, Centre Manager, said “Working at the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre has cemented my belief that community spaces are extremely important in helping people grow into themselves. I’ve seen the way that the Centre has transformed the lives of visitors in such a short space of time, and I’m so proud that we’ll be able to carry on being there for all who need us in the years to come.”
— ENDS —
Notes to editors:
@ldnlgbtqcentre on social media
The London LGBTQ+ Community Centre is a safe, sober, intersectional community centre and café where all LGBTQ+ people are welcome, supported, can build connections and can flourish. Their vision is for a more connected, belonging and thriving LGBTQ+ community in London.
The Centre project started in 2017, with a grassroots group of volunteers coming together, inspired by other major cities’ community centres, and working to set up a space ‘for the community, by the community’ with intersectionality at its core.
In 2018, the volunteer team raised £100,000 through a crowdfunding campaign, which enabled them to kick-start their work. The Pop-up Centre was developed as an urgent response to the isolation and loneliness felt by the LGBTQ+ community throughout the pandemic. It also acted as a proof of concept and trial period.
The Centre team’s approach has always been led by what the community wants and needs. In 2018, they worked with research agency The Flamingo Group to assess the need for the Centre. In 2021, their ‘A New Queer London’ survey checked back in with the community to see if the picture had changed following lockdown and clarify what the community needed in the current landscape. By the end of 2021, more than 1,000 members of the community have had direct input into the research phases and had their say on what the Centre should be.
In November 2021, they received the keys to the pop-up Centre. Within two weeks, they had transformed an unloved retail unit into a beautiful, welcoming space. Thanks to kind donations from furniture designers and lifestyle brands such as Made.com and Holte, they were able to furnish the space in a sustainable way, giving items a second lease of life and minimising their impact on the planet.
The Centre space was designed by LGBTQ+ architect Martha Summers and was built considerately and with love by an all-LGBTQ+ building team.
The Centre is a sober sanctuary, a place for groups combating isolation in the queer community, bringing different generations together in a friendly setting and working with some of the most incredible charities and groups to offer LGBTQ+-specific services, such as sexual health testing, youth groups and mental health support.
Their holistic and collaborative approach ensures that all groups within the LGBTQ+ community have the opportunity and space to run their own events and that LGBTQ+ organisations are able to expand their services and reach new audiences.
Their programming is reflective of the desires of the community. They run a diverse variety of events, from exercise workshops to social events, from crafting to skills sharing. Their community café acts as a sober hangout spot that welcomes all. Through accessible pricing and a pay-it-forward payment scheme nobody is left behind due to financial barriers.
LGBTQ+ people of all ages, from all backgrounds, faiths and walks of life, are welcome at London LGBTQ+ Community Centre. “We are what you make us, so make yourself at home.”
Features of the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre
- Considerate, soft and accessible design. Soft colour palette to ensure it’s as welcoming to neurodivergent folks as possible.
- Comfortable seating, cosy blankets and cushions to act as a home-away-from-home.
- Stackable and moveable furniture to allow the greatest use of the space as possible.
- A custom-built cafe counter to allow wheelchair access, fitted with a terrazzo countertop donated by Holte, which was first used at Cop26.
- Gender-neutral toilet with baby-changing area and free sanitary items.
- Book swap and library.
- Clothes swap
- ‘Pay it forward’ cafe system. Visitors pay for a drink for someone else in advance, leaving a post-it note with a message on. Someone can use the post-it note to pay with instead of money.
- Accessible cafe pricing to ensure there are no financial barriers. Our most expensive drink is £2.
- The Quiet Room, which can be used by folks who want privacy. This is also used for mental health support, and sexual health testing and is bookable. This room also contains fidget toys and weighted blankets.
- A changing room to be used by those who may wish to change clothes when they arrive and leave the safety of our Centre.
- A community-driven programme of free events, ranging from exercise to crafting, arts to activism, book clubs and film clubs. The list goes on.
- LGBTQ+-specific service delivery thanks to our roster of incredible partner charities.
The London LGBTQ+ Community Centre is a safe, sober, intersectional community centre and café where all LGBTQ+ people are welcome, supported, can build connections and can flourish. We work with some amazing charities and groups to deliver LGBTQ+-specific services, alongside a holistic programme of sober events. Our vision is for a more connected, belonging and thriving LGBTQ+ community in London.
The London LGBTQ+ Community Centre is a safe, sober, intersectional community centre and café where all LGBTQ+ people are welcome, supported, can build connections and can flourish. They work with some amazing charities and groups to deliver LGBTQ+-specific services, alongside a holistic programme of sober events. Their vision is for a more connected, belonging and thriving LGBTQ+ community in London.