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Let’s work to make the future for LGBT people a bit brighter!

February 19, 2014
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Derek Preston-Hughes. Funding Manager at the Big Lottery Fund in Wales.

Growing up in a small Welsh village in the 70s wasn’t particularly a great time or place to be when I knew I was different, writes Derek Preston-Hughes; Funding Manager at the Big Lottery Fund.

Understanding and openness about being gay then was completely different to the world of today, and being born in the year that homosexuality was partially decriminalised meant that old ways of thinking would take time to be changed.

Prior to 1968, people often lived in fear of prosecution, they could be blackmailed, experienced personal violence, homelessness, loss of family and friends, loss of employment and had nowhere open to go to meet other LGBT people, so often felt isolated and alone.

The fact is that society is more accepting of LGBT people these days helps, but it doesn’t mean that LGBT people find things completely easy.  There is still the issue of coming to terms with your sexuality and deciding when (and if) to ‘come out’ to family and friends. Deciding to ‘come out’ isn’t just a one off thing, it’s something you have to consider doing every time a new person comes into your life.  Additionally, LGBT people still experience higher than average levels of mental health issues and homelessness.

Fast forward to 2014 and I’ve worked at The Big Lottery Fund for coming up to 16 years.  It was the first workplace I felt able to be open about my sexuality, and when the LGBT staff network group was set up in 2012 I wanted to be a part of it and improve the workplace from an LGBT perspective.  Since then we’ve entered into Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index, improving the ranking to 123rd in 2014 – a massive jump of 101 places from 2013, which we’re extremely proud of.

Working for The Fund I’m pleased that we award so many projects looking at improving the lives of people in need.  However, from an LGBT perspective, recent UK statistics outline that:

  • Only 0.03% of all charitable funding goes to the LGBT third sector
  • In 2012, the total income for the LGBT sector was £9m. Of this income, one organisation receives 43%, and five organisations share 74% between them.
  • 50% of LGBT charities are operating on less than £50k per year, with 30% operating on less than £10k.
  • It is estimated that LGBT volunteers give twice as much time as other volunteers.
  • Outside of sexual health, many LGBT third sector organisations lack infrastructure, and are nervous about applying for funding due to fear of negative perceptions. As a result of poor infrastructure, many also struggle to articulate need and outcomes in an effective way to secure funding.

A year ago I was happy to see the People and Places programme awarding funding of £189,895 to Cardiff Wales LGBT Mardi Gras to work at ensuring that hard to reach groups of the LGBT community are engaged and supported.  It also aims to engage the wider community with the hope this will increase understanding, improve cohesion and reduce hate crime.

To celebrate LGBT history month in February, I would encourage more LGBT organisations apply to us either under the Awards for All programme, for grants up to £5,000 or People and Places for larger projects up to £1 million.  Let’s all work to make the future for LGBT people a bit brighter!

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