Everyday pride: How the LGBT Foundation is helping Britain’s hidden communities
As Pride Month celebrations continue across the UK, we are proud to support LGBT Foundation, a national charity that started in 1975.
For the teams on the frontline of the organisation’s services, Pride celebrations show a mixed picture. On the one hand, they allow people from different LGBTQ+ communities to openly celebrate who they are and to feel a sense of unity and belonging .
On the other hand, as LGBTQ+ people continue to face high levels of discrimination in the UK, a few days a year is not enough to tackle widespread injustices. LGBTQ+ rights and concerns are something everyone should be aware of and strive to educate themselves about on an ongoing basis.
Virgin Red members can donate their points to LGBT Foundation and directly support the charity in its mission to provide a wide range of critical services, including a national helpline for people in crisis, an email helpline (for anyone not confident in calling in), and a variety of talking therapies. And if you donate your Virgin Points during the month of June, we will double the cash value of your donations towards LGBT Foundation's work in the UK.
As Pride casts a spotlight on LGBTQ+ rights, we caught up with the LGBT Foundation’s Debra Nixon, Deputy Director of Self-Generated Income, to find out more about the charity’s vital work. Here’s what she had to say:
We empower LGBTQ+ people to realise their full potential every day
“LGBT Foundation are a national charity, with LGBTQ+ health and wellbeing at the heart of everything we do. We celebrate and empower diverse communities to realise their full potential, every day.
"Our services and activities are a lifeline for those in need. We offer hope and support for LGBTQ+ people on their journey to achieving their aspirations. Our vision is a world where queer liberation creates meaningful change and a fairer society for us all.
"We’re proud of the diversity and strength of our communities. We create safe spaces, amplify voices and work with our partners and allies to drive positive change.
"Since 1975, we’ve been transforming the lives of LGBTQ+ people across the UK. The same spirit that fuelled our beginnings still drives us today. We are committed to championing the unique voices, experiences and cultures of LGBTQ+ people across the UK.
"We know that challenges still exist, but we’re hopeful about the progress we’re making. We believe that together we can build a world where queer hope and joy flourish."
"Because same-sex marriage is legal in the UK, there’s a misguided assumption that everyone is on an equal playing field. But the reality is, heteronormativity and cisnormativity are embedded at the heart of our society. This means that the LGBTQ+ communities we support often experience discrimination in their everyday lives. Consequently, this leads to disproportionate rates of hate crime, poorer mental health, and barriers in healthcare barriers for LGBTQ+ people, compared to the general population.
"So it’s really important for us, as a society, to educate ourselves, and build awareness of how we can help LGBTQ+ people feel included in the language and subtleties of everyday life.
"Our report Hidden Figures shines a light on the multiple health inequalities that LGBTQ+ people encounter across the course of their lives, including higher rates of homelessness, domestic abuse and sexual violence. We hope our research prompts key decision makers in healthcare and beyond to become more aware of the barriers that LGBTQ+ people encounter; and take conscious steps to remove them.”
Making a difference
"As one of the largest LGBTQ+ health and wellbeing charities in the country, we provide a range of services ranging from the helpline, befriending service, social support groups, sexual health testing, domestic and sexual abuse support, and many more. Like many other charities, we rely on the generosity of our supporters to ensure that our vital, life-saving work can continue. So, a donation of £10, or even £1, can help to make it possible for us to run projects like Rainbow Buddies, a befriending service, which reduces loneliness for LGBTQ+ people. So anybody who is able to donate, with any amount, really helps to make a difference to the lives of the LGBTQ+ people we serve.
"We know that the work we do has an important impact for our communities. Often, we get feedback years after providing support. One young person, for example, told us, "This is the first birthday in 4 years that I haven’t tried to kill myself" – and that was after contacting LGBT Foundation’s helpline on and off over a number of years. So, we really can be there for people."
"For a charity like ours, every day is Pride. Pride celebrations are indeed important, because it’s a way for community members and allies to come together and celebrate. But LGBTQ+ inclusion is not something that should be confined to special occasions. Ultimately, our goal is for our charity not to have to exist. To create the kind of fair and equal society where people can be who they want to be, with zero prejudice, as a daily reality of life."
Find out more about LGBT Foundation or donate your Virgin Points in support of their brilliant work.