A LGBTQ+ Community Centre is opening in Central London next month
The six-month pop-up aims to provide ‘a safe, inclusive, sober, intergenerational and intersectional space’
A volunteer-run LGBTQ+ Community Centre will open as a six-month pop-up on December 1st in Bankside, near the Tate Modern. Modelled after similar initiatives in major cities like New York and Manchester, it aims to create “a safe, inclusive, sober, intergenerational and intersectional space run by the community for the community.”
The centre will include an affordable café and social spaces, as well as providing employment opportunities and community-specific services for mental health, sexual health, and additional services tailored to trans people, young members of the community, and older LGBTQ+ people. All of which are vital and have been few and far between due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“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,” said the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who pledged to support this Centre in his election manifesto.
The London LGBTQ+ Community Centre, the upcoming registered charity behind the project, described the pop-up as born from “conversations between friends and […] brought to life by a group of volunteers.” Findings from recent research have also inspired the project to take shape, since it has been found that nearly 60 per cent of London’s LGBTQ+ venues closed in the last decade, 24 per cent of young people experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+, the community is more prone to poor mental health, and hate crimes against the community have been rising since 2015.
Despite being temporary, the pop-up “intends to transform into a permanent LGBTQ+ Community Centre in the capital continuously serving LGBTQ+ Londoners’ needs.”
To accurately reflect those needs, the Centre’s design is shaped by direct involvement of those within the community. For example, the services provided are determined by a 2018 study into the community’s interests. 72 per cent of respondents expressed a desire for a sustainable cafe, 67 per cent wanted more event spaces, 61 per cent mental health services, and 53 per cent sexual health services.
Martha Summers, a renowned queer architect, has 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.”
“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!” said Matthew Riley, Tonic Housing’s Communications and Marketing Manager.
When asked for a message to London’s uni students, a representative from the Centre said, “Help us create the Centre that London’s LGBTQ+ students want: share your thoughts in our survey (open for another week), sign up to volunteer if you can, and once the Centre opens, come along!”