A year of achievement, and a future of hope - a New Year message from LGBT Foundation Chief Executive Paul Martin OBE and Chair Smyth Harper

Published: 01 January 2018 Tags: LGBT Foundation, Smyth Harper, New Year, Message, Paul Martin OBE By John Walding

A year of achievement, and a future of hope - a New Year message from LGBT Foundation Chief Executive Paul Martin OBE and Chair Smyth Harper

It’s been an extraordinary year for LGBT Foundation as we continue our lifesaving work to achieve equality, promote safety and encourage wellbeing for all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.

We ended the year on quite a high by taking part in the inaugural Paypal Turkey Dash. This was a fun and exciting pre-Christmas initiative which saw LGBT Foundation in good-natured competition with seven other national charities to raise vital funds. Aardman animations created unique animated turkeys, representing each of the charities, who then raced against each other on national television in the run-up to the festive break. Our creation – Rainbow Rebel – was a plucky competitor and helped us raise more than £14,000. You can watch what happened in the race at www.turkeydash.co.uk – where you can still make a donation. Rainbow Rebel was quite a character, and we don’t think you’ve seen the last of them.

It’s just one of the innovative partnerships we have been involved with this year and a new departure for LGBT Foundation. We’ll be building on the success in 2018.

Whilst Christmas is a time for hope and joy for most, for many it can be a difficult period. Throughout the break, LGBT Foundation colleagues have shown the true meaning of Christmas by being a helping hand and a listening ear to those who need it. We’ve provided helpline support, and our wonderful Village Angels and Village Haven have been there for people in their hour of need. Our community resource centre at 5 Richmond Street in the heart of the Gay Village is also open between Christmas and New Year This month, we’ve partnered with Smirnoff and Lad Bible to produce a beautiful film that showcases the work of our Angels through the eyes of one of our superstar volunteers, Josh. Take a few minutes to watch the video here. Be warned though, there won’t be a dry eye in the house!

You can also listen to a superb podcast featuring LGBT Foundation with Paul in conversation with Cityco, speaking about the history of our charity and its amazing work. You can listen here or by searching for “Cottonmouth” on iTunes and ACast.

2017 has been a difficult year for many LGBT people at home and abroad. There are still too many countries in the world where people face death because of who they love, or who they are. The enemies of equality seek to unpick the real progress that has been made. And there was a big rise in hate crime against LGBT people right here in Manchester following the terrible terrorist attack of 22 May.

But despite the challenges, hope still shines. From the overwhelming vote in favour of marriage equality in Australia (now let’s make it happen in Northern Ireland!), to the phenomenal response of Manchester people following the bomb – not least from our own LGBT communities – we can go into the future with both confidence and a steely determination that we can make the world a better place. An example of this is the seven-year campaign for sexual orientation to be monitored by health services. This year, in a groundbreaking agreement, the NHS agreed to set a new standard for monitoring which will benefit the health of LGBT people for generations to come. You can read more about this - and why it matters - at lgbt.foundation/monitoring

And in this ever-changing world, LGBT Foundation continues to provide superb services. In 2017 we gave out more than 400,000 condoms – end to end they would go round the M60 twice (and enough lube to fill 70 baths). We trained enough healthcare professionals in our amazing Pride in Practice scheme to fill 40 hospital wards. Our Village Angels helped enough people to fill 30 rush-hour trams. Every single person who accessed our counselling services said their mental health improved. And we provided help, support and advice to enough people to fill the Manchester Arena.

But fundamentally it isn’t about statistics – it’s about the people. And people’s lives have been changed by LGBT Foundation. People like Diana*, who reached out to us as she was on her transitioning journey and told us: “I was lost before I found LGBT Foundation”.

People like Andrew*, recently diagnosed with HIV who tells us that LGBT Foundation colleagues are providing a “helping hand every step of the way”.

And people like Gordon*, who’s received support from our drug and alcohol programme and tells us “The LGBT Foundation drug and alcohol service is a life saver… I am no longer lost. I am living not just existing”.

As we move into 2018 we’re confident we’re going to reach more people, save more lives, and change even more lives for the better.

And you can join us on our journey.

You could be like Josh and volunteer. He tells us: “We’re there to help - which can mean everything”.

Or you could be like George, who donned her trainers and raised more than £2,000 for LGBT Foundation by running in the London Marathon. She told us she was inspired to raise money for us by seeing “the crucial role charities and organisations like LGBT Foundation play in campaigning for equal rights and also how much there is still to be done”.

Or you could become a regular donor by visiting www.lgbt.foundation/donate.
Wishing you the very best of times for 2018.

Paul and Smyth