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Community view: Prepared for supporting the LGBTQ community through uncertain times ahead

PUBLISHED: 15:30 26 September 2020

Tessa Havers-Strong and forum+ are encouraging all local LGBTQ people to get in touch in they are feeling isolated.

Tessa Havers-Strong and forum+ are encouraging all local LGBTQ people to get in touch in they are feeling isolated.

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It was six months ago, on March 17 that forum+ took the difficult decision to temporarily suspend all face-to-face activities in light of the worsening pandemic.

The following week, the government implemented stay-at-home restrictions across the nation and just like that, everyone was left wondering about how we were going to cope without those connections in physical space which we take for granted. It was a very steep learning curve with the situation changing rapidly each day. I am very proud by the way in which community organisations across Camden have come together to ensure no one is left behind. It is heartening to see that despite the many challenges Covid-19 presents, the resilience of our community comes to the fore and people naturally offer their support and are there for one another.

From the outset of the pandemic, forum+ has endeavoured to continue its work in reducing social isolation and loneliness in the local LGBTQ. Regular check-in phone calls and emails to vulnerable clients replace the face to face work. Work continues in supporting LGBTQ victims of hate crime and our strategic work with the local authority to improve the lives of LGBTQ in the borough carries on.

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One major change we have introduced to forum+ activities is the way in which our programme of LGBTQ events is delivered. Prior to the pandemic, most of our events took place in venues across Camden. Since the restrictions were implemented, we have switched to hosting events online via Zoom. International Day Against Homophobia was marked with a Zoomfest of music with Xnthony and the London Gay Men’s Chorus; an interview with long time LGBTQ campaigner, Lisa Power and some delightful poetry with the incredibly talented performance poet and writer Hannah Chutzpah. Hannah hosts the ever growing forum+ LGBTQ poetry evening, Incite!, which is 10 years old this month.

Forum+ works closely with Camden and Islington councils, the Met Police and British Transport Police on reducing homophobic and transphobic hate crime and next month, during National Hate Crime Awareness Week, forum+ will host an online panel discussion event exploring intersectional aspects across the different strands of hate crime and raise awareness to improve outcomes for victims of hate crime across all the strands of race, faith, disability, sexual orientation and gender.

The last six months have existed in a state of flux, with Covid-19 cases reaching its peak in April and slowly tailing off thereafter. And it is evermore looking as though the next six months will continue to provide us with uncertainty as we see new cases begin to surge again. At forum+, through the learning process over these last months, we are more prepared and better able to continue supporting the LGBTQ community through the uncertain times ahead.

Forum+ is encouraging all local LGBTQ people of all ages and identities to reach out for support if they are feeling isolated. If you are a victim of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic harassment or hate crime or have any other enquiries you can contact forum+ on the mainline telephone number, between 10.00am - 5.30pm Monday to Friday: 020 7388 5720 or email info@forumplus.org.uk. For updated information please check forum+ social media and website: Twitter: @forumplus, Facebook: @forumplus and forumplus.org.uk

• Tessa Havers-Strong is executive and governance officer at forum+.


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