This week Birmingham LGBT held the official launch event for England and Wales’ first Health and Wellbeing centre in Birmingham’s Southside district, which will serve the needs of the city’s local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
The launch event, held at the centre on Holloway Circus on Wednesday 23 January, saw specially invited guests from across Birmingham and beyond come together to celebrate the opening of the pioneering centre. Officially opening its doors to the public on Tuesday 29 January, the new centre will address the health inequalities suffered by the LGBT community.
The evening included speeches from the chair of Birmingham LGBT Matt Daniels, as well as funders John Taylor, Head of Big Lottery West Midlands region and Peter Hay, CBE Director of adults and communities Birmingham city council.
Celebrations saw a poem reading followed by a ceremonial rainbow flag ribbon cutting, a long standing tradition in cultures around the world that serves as a sign of diversity and inclusiveness, of hope and of yearning. The use of the rainbow flag by the gay community began in 1978 when it first appeared in the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade. Each colour denotes a different emotion and feeling, including healing in orange and calmness and nature in green.
Attendees were also taken on a guided tour around the centre, which includes a cafe, a clinical and consulting space, a multi-functional counselling and support room, a dedicated counselling space and offices for Birmingham LGBT and a training room to host LGBT community activities.
The opening of the Health and Wellbeing centre will aim to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ to the LGBT community, working closely with other service providers to target issues such as high rates of smoking and drinking, self-harm, depression and attempted suicide.
Steph Keeble, director at Birmingham LGBT, said: “The launch of the LGBT Health and Wellbeing centre is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a very proud moment for everyone at Birmingham LGBT and Birmingham itself. The centre looks amazing and we have had some really positive feedback and look forward to settling in and developing services that meet the needs of Birmingham’s diverse LGBT communities.”
The new centre has received funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities Programme, Birmingham City Council Adults & Communities Directorate in addition to PR and marketing support from Southside Business Improvement District.
Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, said:
“The opening of England and Wales’ first Health and Wellbeing Centre here in Southside is a fantastic achievement for Birmingham’s LGBT community and for the city. It will offer an unrivalled opportunity both in terms of skills and services to cater to the needs of the LGBT community. We are pleased to have been able to support the centre and look forward to seeing it flourish.”
I’m proud that Birmingham City Council has supported this significant new development. We are committed to working in tough times for fairness, social justice, enterprise, innovation and accountability, offering the best chances for the next generations of all our communities. We want to see an inclusive city, with a fair chance for everyone in Birmingham, including Birmingham’s LGBT communities.”
Julia Chance, BID manager for Southside BID, adds:
“It’s brilliant to be able to see the final product of something that has had so much heart and soul put into it. I believe the centre will have tremendous value for the LGBT community and serve as an asset to Southside. I’m very honoured to have been able to support the opening of the Health and Wellbeing Centre and I hope it will set the bar for LGBT communities nationwide.”
Founded in 2002, Birmingham LGBT was originally set up to act as a strategic voice for the members of its community in the city, and has led high profile projects and events over the past ten years. Projects include SHOUT Festival, Gay Birmingham remembered, Birmingham Pride Community Area and the Rhinestone Rhino, a life-sized rhinoceros sculpture which was unveiled as part of Birmingham’s 2012 Gay Pride celebrations.
To find out what else Birmingham’s Southside district has to offer, please visit www.enjoysouthside.co.uk