If anyone hasn’t seen the brilliant Russell T Davies’s Channel 4 mini-series “It’s a sin” it’s difficult to appreciate just how much things have changed since the 1980s for the LGBT+ community, especially for the those born post-2000. Yet there is still so much work to be done before the LGBT+ community will feel integrated into society in much the same way as achieving true racial or sex equality remains a dream despite the progress made so far. For those who experience discrimination on an almost daily basis, albeit conscious or unconscious, it feels that progress hasn’t so much been any giant leap, more a tiny step.

A 2020 survey from Galop the LGBT+ anti-violence charity reported that in the last year alone, a quarter of trans people had experienced or been threatened with physical assault and nearly one in five had been threatened or experienced sexual assault. It is unsurprising therefore that the LGBT+ community is in desperate need of funding to help with support groups and helplines.

This year’s theme for LGBT+ History Month which is celebrated every February in the UK is “Body, Mind, Spirit” and Kent Community Foundation with its appropriate strapline of “Connecting People Who Care With Causes That Matter”, has announced its support for the South East Gender Initiative which promotes and improves health and wellbeing for the LGBT+ community in Medway.

The South East Gender Initiative based in Rochester, promotes, and improves the health and wellbeing of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Asexual, Transgender, Non-binary Gender, Gender Non-conforming people, and those questioning their gender identity or sexuality, through support, education, training, and information.

They also deliver Transgender awareness training to organisations including Kent Police, NHS Trusts, Social Care Providers, Counsellors, health professionals and providers of health and wellbeing services. Kent Community Foundation has been supporting the South East Gender Initiative for five years and has to date awarded them £20,000. The most recent grant was awarded last month to support the ongoing costs of providing peer support and counselling services, and the running costs for the Medway Gender Sexual Diversity Centre, for the next three months. Hilary Cooke, CEO, Medway Gender and Sexual Diversity Centre, said:

“LGBT+ History Month is an important time for the LGBT+ community, it gives focus on the history and challenges we have faced around the world. It’s a chance for us to raise awareness of the current inequalities parts of the community face, and a chance to celebrate the positives of being free to live as LGBTQIA+ people in a diverse society.

The South East Gender Initiative began supporting the Trans community in Medway and Kent in 2011. We have been supported in this much needed work by Kent Community Foundation since 2015. Their grants have helped us to create the Medway and Gender Sexual Diversity Centre in Rochester and to provide peer and counselling services for young people, adults, parents and carers, and partners of the LGBTQIA+ communities.

Those who access our services say the help they receive is lifesaving in some instances.

We would like to thank Kent Community Foundation for their support of the LGBTQIA+ communities of Medway and Kent and the support they give to all the other voluntary organisations and groups who do such needed work in the community. Though our existence we have been able to support local pride events around Kent and be part of creating Medway Pride and the new Medway Pride Radio which began its internet broadcasts on 1st February www.medwayprideradio.co.uk”

Josephine McCartney, Chief Executive, Kent Community Foundation, said of the results of the 2020 Galop Survey: “These figures show there is a real need for Trans awareness and understanding and we are delighted to help fund South East Gender Initiative to deliver Trans training across the county.”
To find out more about South East Gender Initiative visit www.mgsd-centre.org and to find out more about Kent Community Foundation visit www.kentcf.org.uk