The opening of Carlisle’s first LGBT HQ happened on Saturday 27th July 2013. His Royal Highness, (Mr Billie Raymond), officially opened the Centre.

A host of police officials, local councillors, church representatives and local dignitaries attended to show their support for the project. Members of the public and businesses in the local area also attended in large numbers to witness the ceremonial opening of the building.

People who attended were; Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Carlisle Councillor Steven Bowditch and his wife Christine, Vice Chair of Eden District Council Pat Godwin and Cllr David Wilson. Also Sarah Dimmock, Diversity Manager, Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson, Sergeant Mike James, from Cumbria Constabulary and Constable Ian Ashton and Chief Inspector Ralph Copley from Lancashire Police. The Dean of Carlisle Cathedral The Very Revd Mark Boyling and his wife Helen. Sam Brown who runs the Dumfries and Galloway LGBT Centre. Glenn Anderson founder of LGBT HQ premises, Pam Eland co-founder, owner of Sticky Bits Cafe and project worker of Pride in North Cumbria, Martin Reeves Chair LGBT HQ Steering Group, Ben Vollans Managing Director for Gay Older Brothers & Sisters, Richard Kavanagh from OutREACH Cumbria hosted the event.

Representatives from Gay Older Brothers & Sisters (GOBS), OutREACH Cumbria (ORC) and Pride in North Cumbria (PiNC) were there on the day to show people around the proposed plans for the upper floors of the building and how they would like to develop the idea of the LGBT Centre. The proposal includes offices for organisations, meeting rooms, counselling rooms, a health suit and room for the youth group. We aim to rent these office spaces, meeting rooms and counselling rooms out to the wider community to use. Organisations have been approached to provide specialised support for health issues too.

The proposed plan includes Pride in North Cumbria, a youth organisation aimed at helping people aged 13-25 who identify themselves as LGBTQ, by providing a safe environment for young people to socialise, take part in workshops and get involved in activities and events. In the sessions there is information and advice and a chance to discuss issues that affect individuals and the group. They encourage young people to get involved in project planning so they can direct the project in a way that suits their needs.

Gay Older Brothers & Sisters, who provide a mentoring scheme to people aged 13+ while identifying themselves as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) and ‘coming out’ to their family and friends. The individual is given a mentor to talk to, have coffee with, even meet up and go bowling with. Their aim is to help people that are struggling and need to talk to someone when dealing with being LGBT. They are there to help people prepare for life as an ‘out’ LGBT individual, which comes with its ups and downs. They believe that ‘coming out’ shouldn’t really be such a big deal.

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OutREACH Cumbria currently works with the statutory and voluntary sector providing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality advice and facilitate consultation with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. ORC uses the intelligence gathered to address inequalities and other issues that lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people face, from homophobia to hate crime. ORC also provides support for LGBT clients, such as one to one sessions to the provision of advice and information. They also facilitate LGBT Equality training sessions and workshops.

Our main aim is to provide a safe place for the LGBT community to come to, to access services that are situated all under one roof. We are hoping to obtain local and national government funding, further private funding and sponsorship from local and national businesses.